“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” ~Unknown
When I arrived home after a brief stint living in another state, I was anxious to reconnect with places from my childhood and the friends I’d left behind.
But while I was healing from a heart-wrenching breakup, suffering through sleepless nights on my parents rock-hard couch, and mulling over where all my freelance writing work had gone, my friends seemed to be successful, happy, and right on track.
Realizing that I had hit rock-bottom and that it crippled my self-esteem, my friends gathered around me, taking shifts to ensure that I wouldn’t drown in my own overwhelming grief.
Yet, while their love and support was what got me through, seeing each of their lives so clearly flourishing added another emotion to my already full load: envy.
Envy is a sneaky bugger—a pot-stirrer who likes to aid the ego in pointing out flaws you’d rather just sweep under the rug. It serves as a reminder of all the success you don’t have, the experiences you haven’t had, the relationships you’d like to have—basically everything that makes you feel “less than.”
I spent the next few months wallowing in comparisons—staring longingly at couples clutching hands as they walked down the street, watching people hustle to their well-paying jobs, and picturing myself in the beautiful homes that others had the ability to purchase.
Unfortunately, while I knew with every cell in my body that I wanted to be somewhere different doing something different, envy kept me rooted firmly in place—a place plagued by lack and thoughts of “if only.”
Once I realized that the circumstances wouldn’t change until I did, I noticed that entertaining this toxic emotion was getting me nowhere but deeper in my hole of self pity. That was when envy and I parted ways, leading me to some very powerful realizations.
Realization #1: Being anything less than happy for others was blocking my own chance at success and happiness.
Like attracts like, so by ruminating in the idea that you don’t have what someone else has, you’re simply attracting more of what you’re feeling: lack. This means you are actually pushing away the very things you’re craving.
Yet, if you are able to celebrate in the successes of others, you are sending a very clear message to the universe: “I’ll have some of that too, please!”
It all comes down to the energy of the emotions you’re carrying. Frowning on another person’s good fortune doesn’t feel good; therefore, it can’t be creating good things. Feeling excited for someone feels good; therefore, it can help create more good things, for you and for them.
Realization #2: Seeing the positive experiences other people were having opened me up to the possibilities.
When someone else lands a killer job with an impressive pay check, it’s easy to fall into the envy trap. But seeing that such a great job exists can, instead, give you something to shoot for. It can show you the amazing possibilities that are already present in the world.
This also allows us to confront one negative belief we carry with us as a society: there isn’t enough to go around. So if one person gets something we want, the chances of us getting the same thing are significantly diminished.
The truth is, there is always enough to go around if we believe it is so. We simply have to claim it.
Realization #3: Everything is temporary, and the tables are constantly turning.
Realizing that things are temporary and always changing can do wonders in all areas of your life, especially when it comes to dealing with envy.
The monetary wealth you see a friend experiencing could be gone within a year. The relationship you witness and long for could be over within a month. The string of unfortunate circumstances you’ve been struggling with could turn around in a day.
I’m not implying we should take solace in knowing that other people’s blessings are temporary, but rather that it helps to realize everything in life is, for all of us. We are not the only people who go through hard times.
Circumstances are constantly changing, so to spend a great deal of time and energy fretting over them or wishing for something different is, frankly, a waste.
Realization #4: Appreciating “what is” makes what “could be” even sweeter.
If you’re able to appreciate and express gratitude for the experience you are having right now—no matter how negative they may look on the surface—you’ll have a greater capacity for appreciating the positive experiences when they begin to show up.
Maybe you don’t have the career success or relationship satisfaction of those around you, but by working through anything that is less than ideal, you are achieving something great: growth. And growth will make room for the changes you’ve been waiting for.
Envy planted one glaring misconception in my mind: who I was simply wasn’t enough. I have since realized that the hardships I was experiencing weren’t meant to point out my inadequacies, but to create an entirely new life experience that was more fulfilling and more…me.