That “Green Eyed Monster” called Envy
The term “Green Eyed Monster” was first penned by Shakespeare in “The Merchant of Venice” to describe the emotion of jealousy or envy. The word “envy” is defined as “the feeling of wanting to be like someone else or have what they have.” Most people shy away from admitting to feeling envious, but… let’s face facts… we ALL have experienced a bit of envy now and then. Feelings of envy or jealously are a normal, natural part of being human.
There’s nothing unusual or unacceptable about feeling a little envious when hearing about great things happening in other people’s lives. You can be happy for them and also wish the same thing or something similar could happen in your own life. It certainly isn’t uncommon to have the fleeting thought of “Gee, I’d like that, too.” Envy only becomes a problem if it hangs around too long or grows to an exaggerated level that interferes with your life.
Indeed, overly strong or lasting feelings of envy can have a negative impact. Studies have shown that intense feelings of envy can influence our health and well-being. Envy has been linked to the release of stress hormones, increased blood pressure, and elevated heart rate. On the other hand, a little bit of healthy envy can sometimes be helpful as a motivating force giving us that extra needed push to help us achieve our goals.
In today’s world of global connectivity, the flames of envy can be easily fanned and often misdirected. Social media has a way of glorifying and exaggerating other people’s realities. While someone’s life MAY APPEAR to be filled with only good fortune and happiness, the truth is NO life is perfect and/or free of problems or pain. Everyone has ups and downs. Everyone experiences disappointments and unhappiness. No matter what we see on social media, the grass is NOT always greener in someone else’s yard.
Research suggests that heavy use of social media can produce exaggerated feelings of envy as well as lower self-esteem. Keep in mind that most people only “advertise” the positives in their lives. Few make a habit of sharing their problems, missteps, or losses. If you find yourself feeling down after social media sessions, maybe it’s time to take a break from the medium.
We’ve compiled a few helpful suggestions that can help reign in the “Green Eyed Monster” and keep envy in line.
Suggestions for taming the “Green Eyed Monster”…
- Acknowledge envious feelings and move on. Let yourself feel jealous, but don’t wallow in those feelings. When we hold on to feelings of envy for too long, they can grow into resentment and bitterness. Focus on something positive instead. Find something in your own life that brings you joy and concentrate on that.
- Be your own cheerleader. Work on building up feelings of self-esteem. You are the only you in the world. That fact alone makes you special. Be who you are and try to become your own biggest fan. Make a list of your positive qualities and acknowledge them regularly. Think positive thoughts and speak to yourself with positive, encouraging messages. If there’s a positive change you’d like to make in your life and you have the ability or power to change it, then go ahead and set out to make the change.
- Don’t downplay your own successes. Avoid the trap of focusing all your attention on the negatives in your life. There are many ways in which we succeed in our daily life. Celebrate and remember your accomplishments, even those that may seem small or inconsequential. We are often too critical of ourselves. Sometimes, the accomplishments in our lives that seem small to us are actually a whole lot more substantial and meaningful than they may seem.
- Be grateful. Almost everyone is able to find something in their own life to be thankful for and appreciate. However, even the most fortunate individuals can forget to be grateful for what they have. Try keeping a daily gratitude journal. Write down at least one thing every day that you’re thankful for and spend a few moments consciously feeling grateful.
- Focus less attention on other people’s lives. If you spend a significant amount of time looking at other people’s lives and comparing them to your own, you are being unfair to yourself. In fact, you’re doing yourself much more harm than good. When you feel a pang of envy toward someone else’s life, it’s okay to feel your feelings but it is important to let those feelings pass. Try taking a step back and refocusing. Look for the positives in your own life. The truth is there‘s probably someone you know who is envious of you!
- Avoid comparing yourself to anyone else. No two lives are the same. Everyone’s story is different. Comparing your own life to someone else’s is a pointless endeavor. Trying to live up to or exceed someone else’s accomplishments is often a losing game. Remember, something you consider a success in another person’s life does not reflect any kind of failure upon your own life. Focus on what you have achieved in the unique story that you’re living and with the cards you’ve been dealt in life.