What is envy trying to tell you?
Do you judge it as a “bad” thought and push it away?
What if there is actually an upside to envy?
What could it be telling you about your purpose and potential?
Alright my friends, you may just be in for a “mind-blown” experience if this is a new concept for you today.
I know that the first time I ran across what I am going to share with you today, I felt all the feelings of not quite understanding how I could have missed it before.
As with many of my episodes, I feel it necessary to share a few definitions so understand each other better as we begin today.
Let’s start with a definition of jealousy:
Jealousy is feeling resentment against someone because of that person’s rivalry, success, or advantages.
Jealousy generally refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern over a relative lack of possessions or safety. Jealousy can consist of one or more emotions such as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness, or disgust.
OK. Now let’s define envy:
Envy creates resentful and unhappy feelings because someone else possesses, or has achieved, what one wishes oneself to possess, or to have achieved.
Envy is an emotion which occurs when a person lacks another’s quality, skill, achievement, or possession. Aristotle defined envy as pain at the sight of another’s good fortune, stirred by “those who have what we ought to have”.
What I find extremely interesting about these two definitions; two words that I used to think we’re pretty much the same thing, is that the difference is in how it affects me.
While jealousy brings feelings of resentment because of what someone else has, Envy brings it back towards one’s self and shows that it’s actually something you want.
Did you catch that? The difference is so subtle that it’s kind of hard to wrap your brain around.
Jealousy creates feelings of resentment that someone else has something that includes another party.
Envy points towards something that you want for yourself.
Let’s dig into this a bit deeper and what it could be telling you about your purpose and potential as I said in the introduction of this episode.
Jealousy is not between two people. It needs a third person.
This can show up for example as a person who wants to date the same person as someone else.
It could be two siblings who want attention from a parent.
Or when a coworker gets noticed by the boss and receives a raise that you were hoping for.
Each of those situations includes a third person.
Jealousy includes fear and threatens loss of something.
It feels natural and sometimes even complimentary as in a conversation with a friend when she gets flowers from her husband for her birthday, and you got a frying pan.
You might say something like, “You got flowers for your birthday? I got a frying pan. I’m so jealous!”
We don’t look at envy in the same way.
It seems not as civilized and maybe you don’t even recognize it is happening sometimes.
You see someone has something, or doing something, that you would like for yourself.
Maybe your best friend is having a baby, and you wish it was you.
Perhaps someone gets a new job or does something that makes what you are doing feel less important.
The way you feel in those situations can be really painful, and on a bigger scale can bring about a lot of shame. “I’m so envious” doesn’t sound as graceful as “I’m so jealous”.
If you remember, we read Brene Brown’s book, “Atlas of the Heart” last year in our Book Club.
That was Episode 105 if you’d like to go back and listen.
I’m gonna read to you what she has to say about Envy and Jealousy. She is a really good writer so I think she explains it way better than I can.
“Let me be the first to say that I’ve been using these words all wrong. And I’m pretty sure it’s because, like most people, I don’t like to say that I’m feeling envious—even when I am. I’d rather offer a friendly, “Man, that’s amazing. I’m so jealous.” But as it turns out, I’m probably not jealous when I say that. I’m envious.”
“There are several debates about the inner workings of envy and jealousy, but there seems to be a consensus that these are two significantly different emotions, starting with these definitions:
Envy occurs when we want something that another person has.
Jealousy is when we fear losing a relationship or a valued part of a relationship that we already have.”
That sounds a bit more clear when Brene says it!
She breaks it down even more.
She shared a 2015 study that shows that 90% of episodes that resulted in envy were in one of three categories.
1-Attraction: like physical attractiveness, romantic attraction, or social popularity
2-Competence: like intelligence or knowledge and
Sounds about right.
I could probably group most of my envious feelings into one of those categories.
Jealousy does feel more socially acceptable, right?
Brene wrote this that made me laugh…” who can get mad when we use “jelly” for jealous—it’s funny and doesn’t sound dangerous at all.
I really enjoyed the way she wrapped up that section.
“Regardless of whether we choose to change our language or not, understanding the nuances of that language can help us ask ourselves the right questions when we’re experiencing jealousy or envy. If we’re feeling afraid or sad or angry or we’re deep in “coveting mode”—we have the tools to ask ourselves: Am I fearful of losing something I value to another person, or do I want something someone else has? If I want something that someone else has, do I want to see them lose it, or is it not about that? If I’m scared I’m losing something important to me, what kind of conversation do I need to have with that person?”
Really good and thoughtful questions!
But let’s get to the point of why I even started defining the difference between these two emotions, and the whole point of this podcast today.
Even though these definitions of Envy and Jealously don’t make Envy look very desirable, I have come to learn that it can actually point me to what I am really wanting, even if I don’t recognize it at first.
I have started to pay attention to my envy.
When I simply pay attention to it, instead of judging myself for envying what someone else has, I take a closer look at my thoughts.
Am I wanting the other person to lose what they have? Hardly ever really.
It’s more that it is pointing me to see something that I want!
When I first started down this road of paying attention to my thoughts and how that has helped me to be more emotionally healthy, I couldn’t answer the question, “What do you want?”
I’ve now heard that same scenario from most of the women I coach.
We don’t know what we want because we don’t let ourselves think about it.
We’d rather make everyone else around us happy.
So, when I started paying attention to what I saw others had and I was envious of it, I could start answering that question.
Envy can show us what we want.
It can help us find a way to meet our own needs.
It can remind us of what we’ve been too afraid to go after ourselves.
It’s ok to want the things we want!
We don’t need to feel shame just because we want something.
When we bury what we want in our subconscious, it gets lost.
We’ve decided it’s dangerous to want.
What if you started paying attention to your envy?
What if you took a big old metaphorical light and shined it right on that envy?
Does that mean you’re greedy?
Does that make you shallow?
The definition of envy is that it is between you and the thing…not the person.
Just because you acknowledge what your want is, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.
It’s not really about whether you get it or not, it’s about recognizing the things that are important to you and then making a conscience choice of what to do from there.
See what a few definitions can do for you?
Take some time and start paying attention to your envy.
It can be pointing to your purpose and your potential.
And there’s nothing dangerous about that.
I’d love to help you take a look at what you’re thinking and discover how you can feel peace in your past and hope for your future.
Sign up to meet with me for a Free 15-minute session: https://hunkeedori.com/MiniMentor
I’ll help you learn to look at your thoughts so you can discover more about who you really are.
It’s amazing what you can do when you take some time to care for yourself in this way.
Thanks for joining me here today and remember:
I see you. I understand how hard you’re trying, and I’d like to help however I can.
Have a wonderful day and I’ll see you back here next week.
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