Green emotions: overcoming envy

When someone uses the phrase ‘green eyes’, they are implying that they are either envious or jealous. Envy and jealousy are terms often used interchangeably. Envy in its purest form is directed at other people, wanting what they possess such as their qualities or success. Jealousy, however, is often elicited when you feel a threat to a relationship from another person. Jealousy evokes fear from a loss of security or affection ensuring the person remains in a state of uncertainty. 

Both envy and jealousy involve carrying out a mental comparison around the insecurity as you focus on how you are different and similar to others. Feeling intense levels of envy or jealous can have detrimental effects such as:

  • Feelings of resentment
  • Feelings of depression
  • Fostering a sense of discontent
  • Idealising the person, their lifestyle, possessions, partners or success
  • Intrusive and/or obsessional thoughts.

Envy and jealousy hold no purpose other than to make you feel inferior to others when in reality you are not. When you feel the green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head ask yourself: Do they actually have it all? The likelihood is that they don’t.  

In summary, envy is a strong desire or longing to have something that another person has, but jealousy is when there is worry that someone is trying to take away something that you have. Feeling either of these emotions can evoke strong feelings of inadequacy. Here are a few helpful tips that may help:

Take off those rose-tinted glasses:

The ‘rose-tinted glass illusion’ is where it feels that other people have it all and their life is better than yours. During these moments, it is helpful to remind yourself that nobody has it all. Doing negative comparisons ultimately makes you feel worse about yourself, the main reason being is that what you are doing is comparing the worst of your own life with the best of what you assume others have. This is self-deprecating and can ultimately cause you more harm than good. Gently remind yourself that everyone experiences trials and tribulations as part of life and which, by the very nature, makes us human.

Choose your friends wisely:

Avoid being with people who do not share the same values as you. If you spend all your time with people who compare the latest fashions or cars then you may find yourself wanting or desiring such materialistic objects. Thus, it is important to do things that are in line with your own values and belief system and to be with those friends who share the same outlook on life.

Remind yourself of what you have:

Shift your focus to the good stuff. It can be easy to forget what we actually have and begin to envy the life of another. Positive affirmations can be really useful: “You are a badass”. “You are amazing and unique”. “You are loved”. “You are the doing the best you can”. There are countless reasons to be grateful for the life you have right now and say thank you.

Try to follow this advice over the course of a week and see how it positively impacts on how you feel about yourself. And remember that your uniqueness adds to the diversity of this world - so let envy become part of your past.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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