Envy is essentially celebrating others blessings instead of your own. When I was very young, my envy was confined to the cafeteria. I often found myself jealous of the kids whose moms packed lunchables while I got stuck with smelly egg salad sandos. In Junior High, it moved the classroom, and the girl who blossomed early and got all the boys’ attention. Around 2006, I got bumped from Myspace Top 8 and envied the intimacy of some of my friends. Then one day, and I can see it clearly in my head, my friend Chris took a photograph of his sweet potato fries and “posted it.” He said “You don’t have Instagram? It’s so cool. You have to get it. You just take pictures of stuff. None of the drama like Myspace or Facebook.” Oh, sweet innocent Chris.
With the rise of social media, envy has become a household emotion in our culture. But, Envy does not have to be a bad thing. In fact envy can be an effective tool if you learn how to use it for good in your own life. Here is how:
Step number one: Don’t hate, celebrate!
Yes, celebrate it! Bake it a cupcake, buy it a shot, take it out to a night on the town, and celebrate that little inkling of envy! Why? Why would you celebrate it? That green monster has brought countless sleepless nights, immeasurable self-doubt, tears and possible carpal tunnel from hours of scrolling the ‘gram. Why would I celebrate such an icky feeling? Because it is very likely that hint of envy is an indicator of someplace in your life that needs more focus and attention.
Boom! There it is. That hint of envy is an indicator of someplace in your life that needs more focus and attention. Once I realized this I began to kick resentment to the curb and replace it with joyfulness. I love to see people succeed! When I see others succeed it shows me that I can as well. It is hard for us to become what we don’t see. We need to see examples before we can even see what is possible in our lives. Thank that person for showing you your dreams are promising. Step one is appreciate, congratulate and celebrate both the feeling and the person that triggered it.
Step two: Investigate
Let’s dig deeper. Take out a pen and paper and write down exactly what you are envious of and here’s the really important part: Why.
For instance, let’s say you are envious of someone’s finical success. When asked why, you might initially say “well, I just want more money.” Yeah, girl we all do! But why? Is there something more? Perhaps if you had more money you could travel or you could invest in that business you have been tossing around. Maybe it is has nothing to do with those dolla dolla bills and more with the dreams attached to them. What are you envious of and more importantly, why?
Then, ask yourselves these two crucial questions:
Are you willing to put in the time, effort and energy to create the results you want in your life? Is developing that skill or trait or having that thing really aligned with your goals and priorities right now? If you are chasing the dreams of someone else, pursuing the “highlight reel” then you are not focused on your own abilities.
Comparison is not the thief of joy—it is the thief of everything. Don’t let envy and comparison rob the world of you. We need you.
And here’s the really great thing, often once you find out what you are envious of and why, once you investigate, some of your envy might just evaporate. You may discover you don’t actually want what someone else has. Case and point: For a while I followed a girl on Instagram who has grown into a bit of a social media influencer. I liked her. I liked her vibe, I liked her pictures, I liked following her adventures. At some point I began to compare myself to her. We both started on our blogging and influencer path about the same time and I can say with certainty if I mentioned her name here you would know who she was, and when you saw I authored this blog you went “Allison who?”. But, then, as time went on I started noticing her emulating other influencers. She started talking like them, dressing like them, her stories began to feel scripted. She championed “authenticity and vulnerability” and yet her feed was morphing into the opposite. I actually began to feel bad for her versus envying her. How terrible that must be to have to curate your life so precisely just to maintain a level of influence. I don’t want that. I don’t want that at all. The closer I paid attention to the girl I once envied the more I realized I was doing just fine where I was. Sure, I’m not a household name yet, but the game isn’t over. I have time. There’s room for all of us when the time and conditions are right. And her conditions—well, meh, they aren’t right for me after all.
Step three: Activate
If you see something that you want, get to work! Envy isn’t the enemy. It is a clue to who you want to be and how to get there. Get movin!
A few more tips:
Remind yourself that other people’s “outsides” can’t be compared to your “insides”
This is such a helpful habit to cultivate. Unless you’re really close to someone, you can’t use their outward appearance to judge the reality of their life. People carefully curate the social media versions of their lives. Continue to wish others well, of course, but in the event that their life gives you reason to feel bad about yours, remind yourself that you don’t actually know what goes on behind closed doors.
Be grateful for the good in your life, and shut down the voice that shouts “It’s not enough”
If you commit yourself to being deeply grateful for what’s good in your life you’ll be far less vulnerable to comparison and envy. If someone or something triggers that unpleasant feeling of negative comparison, stop and remind yourself of what’s fabulous in your life, right now. I criss cross my heart there is so much.
Find healthy comparisons
Chances are, despite all the tips and good advice you will still compare. Ok fine, compare if you must BUT at least try shifting your comparisons to something positive. Who do you admire? What kinds of comparisons might actually be healthy for you? For example, there are women I know well who are extraordinarily kind and generous wives, mothers, and friends. They truly make a difference in their worlds, and I want to be more and more like them. Who inspires you to live better, in the way that matters most? Spend your precious time and thoughts on this, instead.
Allison Avalon is a Blogger and self-help mogul originally from Northern California. As a former counselor to at-risk youth Allison developed creative and inspiring new tactics to tackle self-doubt, negative self-worth and body issues. Her website “I’m Just Not That Girl” supports personal growth and navigating life’s transitions. Additionally, Allison moonlights as a motivational speaker for women. You can connect with Allison on Instagram @Im_Just_not_that_girl
*Photo by Christy Shaterian Photography