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8 Tips to Move Beyond Envy and Start Thriving

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“Envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness.” ~Bertrand Russell

Everyone feels it. Envy is universal. I can trace my first feelings of envy to my childhood. I grew up with six sisters, each one taller and thinner than I was. On top of that, they all had pretty, long, thick hair. Mine was thin, fine, and unruly. I wore a bra as early as fifth grade. They didn’t need one until high school.

I had a bad case of sister envy. Once, when I was mad at my oldest sister, in particular, I actually imagined taking scissors to her long, lovely locks in the middle of the night. Of course, I never did, but I wanted to!

Today, we are good friends. We have each other’s back.

Envy is a resentful emotion. I measured my beauty against the beauty of my sisters. I felt inferior and made them superior. I felt ugly on the inside and blamed it on the outside. I was too young to understand.

I now know that envy centers on feelings of not enough, resentment, doubt, scarcity, and longing. With my sisters, I can’t say that I didn’t feel animosity toward them. However, the anguish I felt within was much worse.

Today’s Envy 

Today, my envy lies in comparing myself to other writers or bloggers who have best sellers, more readers, and more sales than I have. Never mind what they did to get there. My ego wants me to believe they have had an unfair advantage.

Seth Godin, best-selling author, calls the Internet the envy amplifier.

“Used to be that the only Jones you needed to worry about was the one who lived next door. Now, if you choose too, it’s easy to find someone taller, richer, more successful, better liked, with more followers, online friends, connections and endorsements. And certainly it will be someone less deserving than you.”

It’s not natural to be constantly stressed, upset, reactive, envious, and fearful. It’s just as easy to be brave, courageous, and bold. Don’t allow the success of others to hold you back.

8 Tips to Neutralize Your Envy

1. Want what you have.

Aristotle wrote, “Envy is pain at the good fortune of others.” When I feel centered and I’m coming from a place of love, I’m happy for the success of others. However, if I’m not centered, I can easily feel a frantic sense of distress when another blogger has what I want.

Sometimes I take it a step further and wish they didn’t have it either. For me, it’s usually a partnership with a better-known blogger. I only need to remind myself that life isn’t meaningful because of what we have, it’s meaningful because of who we are.

My happiness doesn’t depend on how popular my blog is. My happiness has more to do with who I am, writing well, and serving others.

2. Be grateful for your blessings.

When we are envious of others, we discount what we do have—intrinsic worth, love, family, friends, and more! When I’m feeling envious, I only need to spend more time reveling in the joy of what I have. In that space there is no need for greed.

3. Toot your own horn.

Bolster yourself. Be bold. Give yourself the praise and approval you want from others. Pat yourself on the back. Buy yourself a treat. Take yourself out to dinner. Post your success and accomplishments on social media. Create good times for yourself by celebrating who you are and what you do for others.

4. Put away your measuring stick.

I believe all of our fears fit under these three: I am not enough. I don’t do enough. I don’t have enough. To eliminate fear we need to believe that, “I am enough. I have enough. I do enough!” As we adopt these as our core beliefs, competition and comparison will fall off our radar.

5. Don’t get distracted.

If my ego can convince me that others are winning and I am losing, I have an excuse for why I don’t have to try or work hard. Envy and comparison are distractions. I unsubscribe to writers that I’m envious of until I can shift my perception and see things differently.

6. Talk to a friend, coach, or therapist. 

If you consistently struggle with envy, seek help and learn how to increase your self-confidence and self-worth.

Envy is something we all feel but we seldom admit it or talk about it. Dr. Phil said, “We can’t erase what we can’t face.” If the Internet exasperated the problem, it’s not going away anytime soon. As a culture, we need to find healthy solutions to this insidious issue.

7. Realize it’s a story.

What story are you telling yourself about your rival? When I’m envious, I feel inferior because I falsely believe that the other person’s possessions or achievements overshadow mine. It’s a harmful story!

When I’m centered, I know that we’re all connected, and that together, we can all use our individual gifts and talents to help heal the world. When I see us all with the same mission, envy evaporates.

8. Take action.

Envy is about fear. Fear that I’m not getting what’s mine. Fear that I’m being left behind. Fear that my work isn’t as important as yours.

The best way to work through your fear is to take action. Choose to be more daring. It’s time to dig deep and connect to your inner genius. The magic lies within your own unique gifts, talents, and journey. When you create from your heart with a loving intention, your work becomes exceptional. Everyone gains.

Life isn’t about what you have and what I do not. Life isn’t about comparison and competition. When we rise above the external rewards and the personal battlefields of our minds, we discover the real meaning of it all.

Our life is a journey of sharing, caring, and making the world a better place for everyone.  The rest is just extra!

How do you struggle with envy? What do you need to change?

Photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

Avatar of Tess Marshall

About Tess Marshall

Tess Marshall M.A. is a risk taker, author, and courage coach with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Register early for her new e-Course, “30 Days of Bold” at her blog The Bold Life, and learn how to live in the bold zone!

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  • Dan Garner

    In our modern connection economy, envy is not necessary It is not an economy of scarcity but an economy of abundance where connectivity and communication build upon each other. As we share ideas and grow together, we all benefit.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

  • Kyrsten @ thestifledartist.com

    I’m learning all of these lessons for myself right now. I’m a musician and a writer, and I was married for nine years, but we split because of conflicting life goals. Now that I have the space and freedom to pursue my art, I’m surrounded by musicians who have been spending the past decade honing their craft and making it in the real world, and I’m still very much feeling in the beginning phases of honing my sound and craft. It’s easy to compare myself to others who focused in on their music for years and years, but it’s not really fair to myself. I’m on my own path and it’s slower than theirs. I’ve learned other things in the past years that are valid and helpful to my life. We are all so different. It’s this internal pressure I put on myself to be more all of the time, its hard to fight.

  • tqH2pz

    I suffer from envy. For most of my life I only knew how to value myself by comparing myself to others. I sometimes feel like I have a bottomless pit that needs to be filled with external validation. I work on mindfulness and meditation to recognize what triggers it, understand how it affects me, and choose how I will respond. It’s a lifelong process to learn to let it go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheBoldLife Tess Marshall

    Mindfulness is an awesome method to escape envy. You’re wise. As you continue the practice I don’t believe it has to be life long. I think you’ll get to a point where you won’t feel envy at all anymore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheBoldLife Tess Marshall

    Kyrsten,

    Yes we are all on our own path. I do thing a different way to look at it is we are all on the same path. We are here to grow, love and share our gifts and talents. When you look at it this way you don’t see different you see the same.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheBoldLife Tess Marshall

    Dan,
    So true. I’m not centered if I’m envious because my cup is overflowing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Centipede

    I second this. It sounds like I’m less far along in the process but I’ve been journaling and persistently practicing self-talk to try to internalize these things. It’s very challenging, but rewarding.

  • tom

    i practice gratitude everyday!

  • http://culturemutt.com/ Bjorn Karlman

    Thanks Tess! I had a professor who once said that comparison is the source of our problems, not the underlying conditions themselves…

    I especially enjoyed point #5 ~ Envy will never leave us alone if we allow ourselves to get distracted….

  • Michelle

    Totally relate to this article. Lately I have found myself constantly falling into the envy trap – envious of other people’s successes (esp other writers), envious of people in happy relationships, envious of those who have been more successful at work, envious of the girls with bigger boobs! You name it, I’ve been envious of so many people lately and it’s shameful but I know it all springs from my own fears of being left behind…and that’s really where I am at right now. I recognize the problem but it’s difficult to conquer those impromptu nagging feelings of insecurity when they hit you at a weak point in your day. Thanks for sharing! ps. I signed up on your site and am very excited to learn about this bold life, you speak of;-)

  • red

    I had that same emotion a few days ago, i need to change my spirit to conquer this problem thank you for this post.

  • Paulissa Kipp

    Love this! Often we have what I refer to as “blessings envy” but we don’t realize that everyone’s path is different or that there is no right or wrong way. There is only hard work, dedication and climbing outside the box.

  • caitlin

    Ah yes, we all struggle with this one once in a while. Your post was super helpful thank you!

  • Rowan

    So ok, I suffer with this too, on a daily basis, almost. I hate it, but it’s a part of me. It taints everything I am and do. I would dearly love to feel happy for others, genuinely, but I can’t. How can I get to that place and is it possible to change when you’ve been like this for decades?

  • kerri

    Yes! It took me a long time to realize the harm in how we are brought into a world where we are conditioned at an early age to compare and compete. I was just saying those words to someone, and how a years of feeling unnecessarily inadequate and “less than” did indeed distract me from appreciating my own unique contribution. We all have an equally important, valuable different and unique role to play in the world. All the time i was spending living from fear (ego) I was missing my life and overlooking my own strengths talents and blessings! This has helped me learn to start seeing others successes as inspirational not a reason to feel less than, or that theirs takes away from mine how could it? All that judgment, ug, and criticism and comparison has much less of a stranglehold on me now. It’s a process but very grateful for the awarenesses and realizations I’ve had however painful it has been to look at and let go of many old beliefs and perceptions. Thanks for this great article it’s so awesome to come across things that resonate so strongly and others who understand.

  • Jack Dunn

    If everyone in a high school class makes a 3.5+ GPA:
    someone still makes the bottom of the 4th quartile. Thanks school!