Life Advice: Dealing with Envy


Jealousy and envy can be crippling emotions. When we spend our time looking at how others do things or at what they’ve accomplished and then find ourselves lacking in comparison, it takes away from the energy we could be using to move our own lives forward. It can be tough, though, to not fall into a chasm of self-doubt when we see someone who appears to do what we do, only better. Who everyone else seems to admire without reservation. Who seems to achieve all that we want without as much of the struggle we seem to face.

Instead of wasting time feeling small when faced with someone who stirs up jealousy, turn that emotion around to make it work for you instead of against you. Here are a few suggestions to turn envy into victory.

Look for the 2% of truth

If you find yourself envying someone’s abilities, take a moment to ask yourself, “Is there something that I could be doing that would get me closer to the level of this person?” For example, if you you and a friend both play piano and you find yourself quietly seething with jealousy every time someone compliments her playing, ask yourself if you are living up to your own potential as a musician. What actions is the other person taking that you could yourself adopt? Are you practicing enough? Are you learning new songs? Are you studying with a good teacher? If the answer is no and you want to improve, then get on it! And if you find yourself thinking that, actually, you really don’t want to dedicate any more time to practicing, then let the jealousy go. Be content with your own level of musicianship and know that you have made an active choice to do so. And then once you’ve let go of the need to compete, perhaps you’ll be able to actually enjoy your friend’s playing as well as get more joy out of your own.

Turn envy into inspiration

When you find that someone constantly brings out your green-eyed monster, take a moment to breathe and then see if you can source out what it is that’s actually at the root of your resentfulness. Are you jealous of their accomplishments or is it the attention they receive for them? If it’s the former and you study or work in the same field, turn that envy into fuel to work harder and more efficiently, to come up with creative solutions and to tap into your most innovative self. Let their work inspire you to push yourself to the next level. Sometimes, a little bit of healthy competition can be a good thing!

If what is really making you nutty is the attention this person receives, then you need to learn the larger lesson of taking satisfaction in your own achievements. While it can be hard to let go of using what others think as a measuring stick, external kudos come and go. If you can figure out how to tap into your own inner barometer of recognizing when you have done something well and taking pleasure in that, you’ll be much better off in the long run.

Find your own voice

Even if you have the same goals as someone else, you will both go about accomplishing those objectives in different ways. There is only one you, and you bring a unique set of education, opinions and experiences to everything that you do. Recently, I talked about the importance of knowing your own self worth in the workplace, but that holds true for all of your endeavors in life. Rather than spending your time figuring out how you can copy what someone else is doing, focus on finding all the specific, wonderful things that make you special. I fully recognize that this is easy to write but much harder to put into action. But tapping into your authentic self is one of the major factors that contributes to long-term happiness, so give it a try! The more you practice, the better you’ll get. Be patient with yourself, and before you know it, you’ll be celebrating your achievements – and so will everyone else!

Speaking of finding your voice and using others as inspiration, I wanted to draw your attention to this fantastic playlist of covers from Harriet’s music club! I’ve already told you how proud I am of my assistant and friend for digging deep to figure out a project that would truly excite her. And now her work has inspired lots of others to pick up their own instruments! One of my pet peeves is when people come from a place of scarcity, which can result in an unhealthy sense of competition due to the feeling that there’s only room for a chosen few. I think this playlist is a great example of how there is room for everyone’s creativity when people are true to themselves and not afraid to put their own personal stamp on something. You have a lot to offer the world – never forget that!