Envy is defined as a feeling of discontent or covetousness with a regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc. It’s an emotion that everyone experiences, and it can cause quite a bit of discomfort. It often leads to feelings of self-doubt and may cause us to compare ourselves to others.
Just about anyone who uses social media, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or otherwise, has most likely experienced envy as they scroll through boasting status updates or the picture-perfect photo album of a friends recent trip. It can leave one feeling as though what they are doing with their lives can’t compare to what their peers are doing.
In my own experience, I’ve noticed this feeling of needing to do more as I use Facebook and other social media sites and begin to feel that nagging “not good enough” feeling. As long as we are alive and we are human, there will always be comparisons that can lead to feelings of envy and not feeling like we have enough, are doing enough, or are enough. So, how does one manage these comparisons and cope with envy?
The first step is acceptance. Acceptance that there will always be someone that is smarter, prettier, funnier, wealthier, etc. than us, and that’s OK! Every human has value and worth, and each person is going to have different qualities than the next person. It’s important that when the emotion of envy begins to take hold, we take a step back from the trigger, take a look at ourselves, and acknowledge the things that we like and value about ourselves as a means of challenging these self-bullying comparisons.
One recommendation that I often suggest with clients that are struggling with constant comparisons is to develop a gratitude practice. Demonstrating gratitude can stop envy dead in its tracks. A simple way to do this: grab a journal, and take stock of everything in your life that you are grateful for. You may even be surprised at all the simple and small aspects of your life that you are truly grateful for. Gratitude has the ability to alleviate negative emotions, as well as increase other positive emotions, such as feelings of compassion for ourselves and others. Exploring gratitude can be relatively simple and extremely beneficial.
My final recommendation is to take time to explore if there are things that you feel are missing from your life. For example, if you see pictures from a friend’s recent trip and you feel pangs of envy, it might indicate that traveling is something you value. Start taking steps towards the things that you value while also practicing acceptance around the aspects of life that can’t or shouldn’t be changed. One example of this would be acceptance of one’s body and refraining from trying to change it while working on exploring movement and exercise that helps you to feel good in your body.
Envy can feel uncomfortable and leave us dissatisfied with our lives. With awareness of the emotion, acceptance and gratitude of what is, and realistic goal setting, we can learn to compare less and feel more satisfaction for our lives. I encourage you to try these steps today to alleviate feelings of envy.