Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Envy: 10 Steps to Getting Over It

Envy, how I wish I was better than thee. Have I ever felt it? Oh gods, yes. Has anyone ever been envious of me? Uh. Hmm. ~ponders~ Maybe that time in 5th grade when I burped the entire alphabet without barfing. Boys in the class were surprisingly grumpy over that. Since then? No idea. 

That's the thing about envy, isn't it? It's an intensely felt emotion that outwardly presents as any number of other emotions. You're choking on entitlement that's been deprived, but if you've never learned to manage your emotions, you may not yet realize why you're rolling around like a seething pustule. You might even think you're simply angry. Or hurt. Or humiliated. People start avoiding you because you're unpleasant to be around, which compounds your foul mood. You start assigning blame to anyone but yourself. Then, as if summoned by the need to share misery, you attract other envious folks. Your single-pot stew expands into a big ol' cauldron that eventually boils over and burns you, badly.

On the other hand, if you've learned to acknowledge, identify, confront and modify your negative emotions, then you're prepared for the times when envy destroys your equanimity. For example, you learn someone else has achieved/acquired something you crave. Instantly, you're fangs-out pissed. Envy swirls around you like a bad genie freed from its lamp. But, before you allow your physical reactions to extend beyond your person, you take the very necessary moments for introspection. You walk yourself through the 10 steps: 

  • what am I feeling, 
  • why am I feeling it, 
  • is the reaction proportionate, 
  • is it focused, 
  • who else is impacted by it, 
  • do I wish to change my state of mind, 
  • if so, how, 
  • when,
  • for how long, 
  • and who will be affected by it?

For some, the outcome of that introspection is to let go of envy as if letting go of a balloon. For others, social distance is necessary while they make the emotional change (they know they're the problem and they're working to fix themselves). Still others are committed to the Fuck You, Burn It All Down approach.

Me? I'm straddling group 1 and group 2. I aspire to be firmly in group 1, but I'm also honest enough with myself that certain people or certain circumstances will hit me harder than others. Upside, it takes me less time than it once did to complete the mind shift. Progress. It's a good thing.

Emotional maturity is the only way to combat envy. And if you find yourself faltering, Don't Be a Dick is a worthy mantra.