I knew I wanted to marry my husband after we had only been dating for a few months. So as friends and acquaintances began getting engaged, I felt happy for them, and at the same time, incredibly envious. I don’t feel proud of these feelings, but I’m sharing them on this blog to make the point that we all experience envy occasionally – yes, even therapists.
One of the things that makes envy so difficult to deal with is that it is often a package deal with shame. We feel envy, and then feel ashamed for feeling envy. And that shame often prevents us from sharing our true feelings with others and getting support.
Talking to someone, whether it’s a therapist or a trusted friend, about your envious feelings is always a good option. But if you aren’t ready to do that or would prefer not to, here are three other ways to cope with envy.
1. Remember that you never see the whole picture. Even if the person you’re envious of *seems* to have everything you want, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re as happy as you might imagine. Just because someone smiles in all of their Instagram pictures doesn’t mean they don’t also have bad days, or question their life choices. They do – they just don’t post about it on the curated capsules of their lives called Facebook and Instagram.
2. Change your perspective from a scarcity to abundance mindset. Often, envy stems from worries that there are only so many great jobs or partners or cars to go around, and they are all being snapped up. The reality is, there are tons of great opportunities out there. If you miss one, something even better might be waiting around the corner. Another way to look at it is that if your peers, classmates and friends can get what they want in life, why *not* you? Allow them to inspire motivation and hope, in addition to fear and bitterness. Notice I said “in addition to,” rather than “instead of.” You don’t need to ignore or stuff your envy. It helps to let positivity in along with them.
3. Think about what you’re grateful for. So many people in the world are homeless, chronically unemployed, sick, and/or lonely. This world we live in makes no promises to anyone. It may seem cruel to compare your life to others who are less well off, but I don’t see it that way. It’s more like putting things into perspective in the context of the bigger picture. If you’re having a hard time thinking of things for which you are grateful, consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or somewhere you can interact with folks outside of your usual bubble.
Thank you so much for reading my blog! If you’re interested in learning more about my online therapy practice, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.