Envy is an intense and unpleasant emotion. As Dr. Neel Burton explains in an essay for Psychology Today, “to feel envy, three conditions need to be met. First, we must be confronted with a person (or persons) with something—a possession, quality, or achievement—that has eluded us. Second, we must desire that something for ourselves. And third, we must be personally pained by the associated emotion or emotions.”
We all experience it. When you hear that a friend just received a major promotion with a life-changing salary increase or you overhear a colleague gushing about purchasing their dream home, it’s natural to wince as you feel a bit of jealousy welling up inside of you. But what happens if that feeling becomes overwhelming? Crippling, even? Worse, what happens when the feeling comes often and you find yourself not only unable to be happy for others but also feeling completely miserable as a result of the success and prosperity of the people around you?
Life can be extremely unpleasant when you are carrying the burden of intense envy. Not only does it make it completely impossible to enjoy the things that you do have, but it can also wreak havoc on your emotional wellness as well as your relationships.
If this sounds familiar, you may be wondering how you can put a stop to these overpowering feelings of resentment. After all, no one wants to feel jealous of their friends and loved ones. Here are five practical tips for keeping feelings of envy at bay.
Stop the comparisons
One of the primary drivers of envy is unnecessary comparison. It’s within our nature as humans to compare ourselves to one another; however, this seemingly natural reaction can spiral out of control when we choose to fixate on these comparisons and use the success of others as yardsticks to measure our own self-worth.
Practice gratitude exercises
A simple way to stop envying others is to stop focusing on what’s going well in their lives and shift your focus to the things that are going well in your own. Begin each day by reflecting on the things that you have and express gratitude for them. This can be done through journaling or speaking them aloud.
Avoid the boastful
There are some people who seek to make themselves feel better and make other people feel inferior by boasting all of the time. As much as possible, you’ll want to limit your interactions with these people as their vain and arrogant personas can hinder your progress and make you feel worse.
Retrain your thought process
When you find yourself mulling over the good fortune of another, tell yourself that good things will come to you, just as they have come to the people around you. Instead of focusing on your negative feelings and the fact that you desire what the other person has, reflect on positive affirmations.
Even when you are feeling a hint of jealousy, push through it by congratulating others when great things happen to them. Even if you don’t truly mean it at first, fake it until you make it. As you continue to celebrate the wins of your friends and loved ones, you will begin to feel better and it will become easier.