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Last Updated on February 28, 2018

Envy Used to Be a Good Thing, Why We Don’t Need It Any More?

Envy Used to Be a Good Thing, Why We Don’t Need It Any More?

Jealousy and envy is part of human nature, a trait that everyone has.

An experiment about envy was conducted by researchers from Oxford and Warwick Universities.[1] In the study, researchers created an online game that gave people the chance to win money. People who won were presented with the option to spend some of their winnings to burn the winnings of others. This at first sounds like a strange option. Yet during the experiment, 2/3 of the players chose to burn others winnings.

Their envy was so bad that, it was not enough for them to do well, other people had to do badly. Their victory had to be conclusive, and they were paradoxically willing to lose money to ensure this. In the end, everyone lost out.

If a person wasn’t envious of someone they considered more successful, they may not aspire to be like them and as a result, may not push themselves to greater success. However, make no mistake, envy is always destructive.

Envy Was for Survival, but Now It’s for Savage

It has been argued that envy originated as an early survival instinct. When humans lived as hunter-gatherers millions of years ago, survival and social advancement was based on competition. In such a world, it is easy to imagine that a person would have only judged themselves in direct comparison to others.

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The caveman would have been constantly on the lookout for rivals, or those in possession of things they desired. When such a person was identified, the caveman would have either eliminated that rival, or found a way to beat them in other ways. Not unlike how a wolf can become the alpha of his clan by beating them in other ways.

    But the fact is, humans no longer operate like this. We do not survive by eliminating our rivals anymore. Putting others down in order to raise yourself up is not the good way to succeed. While taking others down is irrational, it can be illegal too. As such we have outlived the need for envy.

      Envy makes us blind and unreasonable, think about it, have you ever seen a post on facebook by someone you know that makes it seem like their lives are different than in reality? Maybe it’s a flashy car a friend has just bought himself, or maybe it’s another friend traveling around the world. All of their lives seem perfect.

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        But the truth is, you never really know the real life behind each of these facebook posts. That friend who has a flashy car could be having loads of struggles that you don’t see, maybe he just wants attention from others yet he doesn’t really have true friends to share his thoughts with.

          You are assuming that they have a great life based on what they have showed others in a virtual world. Envy makes you admire another person’s life and believe that others are having better lives than yours. It’s like giving another person compliment in a way that make yourself feel bad.

          A Wise Man’s Take on Envy

          Next time when you feel like envy is popping up in your head, try these steps:

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          1. Stop Believing the Perfect Picture

          You’re not other people. You don’t really know the struggles behind that flashy car, that cool vacation, or that expensive house. For example, that friend who’s got himself a nice car doesn’t have real friends, that’s very sad.

          That “perfect” picture in our mind is purely imaginative. When we stop idealizing what others are experiencing, we will not be blinded by what we wee with our eyes.

          2. Reframe the Picture

          Ask yourself, the things that others have, do you really need them?

          Can you imagine how expensive it is to maintain a house like that? What’s the point of having nine or more rooms when they only have a family of three? Most of their money probably goes into merely keeping their house clean and in good condition. Ultimately, a house like that might not suit you.

          What about that car? Sure it looks nice, it’s probably comfortable and fast. But it’s pretty impractical for driving around a busy city. It might not be very fuel efficient. So right there, the two most appealing parts of the picture become less impressive and actually pretty useless.

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          Relate what you see to your own life, picture yourself being in that situation and what you really need to take care of. Then you’ll see the downside of those things too and realize that you don’t really need them.

          3. Look Away from the Picture and Look at Yourself

          It sounds like a cliche, but it’s always a good idea to be thankful for what you have. Look at the people and things you’ve already had and how these things have satisfied your needs.

          You might not think your car isn’t fancy, but it takes you to where you want to go. You might want a bigger house, but your current one could be cosy, warm and comfortable.

          Envy will only make you sadder. It doesn’t help you to make yourself better and happier. So when envy is hitting you again, stop, take a look at yourself and appreciate what you have.

          Reference

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          Brian Lee

          Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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          Last Updated on October 12, 2018

          How to Tell Symptoms of Social Anxiety And What to Do About It

          How to Tell Symptoms of Social Anxiety And What to Do About It

          Social Anxiety Disorder (formerly known as Social Phobia) can be a significant hurdle to your happiness, health, and ability to achieve your potential in relationships and at work

          Here’s a common scenario:

          You’re the kind of person that likes others. You want friends, you want to hang out with your co-workers for hors d’oeuvres after work, and you definitely don’t want someone to hang out with on Friday nights. You just can’t make your reality fit with your wishes.

          Here’s one scenario that often happens: after wish you could be bold at work, make friends, and ask for that raise, the minute you’re invited to golf with your boss, do a presentation for the team, or come to a friend’s anniversary party…you bail out. You don’t feel smart enough, worthy enough, prepared enough…it is never enough…so you say “no’ to the very thing you wish you could do.

          So, on one hand, you’re happy because you got to avoid the anxiety-provoking personal encounter, but you’re simultaneously miserable because – yet one more time – you didn’t go after what you want most. This can hurt your self-esteem even further, which only makes you less apt to try again the next time.

          The vicious cycle can go on for years on end. Clearly, this disorder has the potential to rob you of your health or prevent you from meeting your goals at work and having positive, healthy relationships.

          But here’s the good news about Social Anxiety Disorder – you don’t have to let it rob your future!

          Is It Social Anxiety Disorder?

          First, let’s figure out what we’re dealing with.

          The Fancy Definition 

          According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Social Anxiety Disorder (formerly known as Social Phobia) is an “intense, persistent fear of being noticed and judged by others” to the degree that it can prevent you from reaching your potential at work and other areas of your life.  

          It’s not “just” being shy. The anxiety must last over six months and cause “considerable impairment” in your life, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (5th ed.).[1] In addition, the anxiety must be constant, intense, and disabling to qualify. 

          You’re not the only one!

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          According to Social Phobia org, social anxiety is the third- largest mental health issue in the world, and affects 7% of US citizens.[2] It often (not always) begins around middle school which is inherently a period of intense self-consciousness. 

          The Theories

          Research is still divided on the cause of Social Anxiety Disorder, but some theories indicate there is a genetic/inheritable component while others argue that it can be a learned behavior.

          Others believe the problem is multi-determined and can be a combination of genetics, social learning, and other factors combined. 

          10 Scenarios That are Potential Triggers 

          The Social Anxiety Association lists several scenarios that can be triggers for your anxiety including these common ones:[3]

          • Being teased or criticized
          • Being the center of attention
          • Being watched or observed
          • Having to say something in a formal, public situation
          • Meeting people in authority (“important people/authority figures”)
          • Feeling insecure and out of place in social situations (“I don’t know what to say.”)
          • Feeling embarrassed (e.g., blushing, shaking)
          • Meeting other peoples’ eyes
          • Swallowing, writing, talking, making phone calls if in public
          • Being introduced to other people

          3 Major Symptom Categories

          When we encounter our triggers, sufferers tend to become symptomatic. According to Psycom, there are 3 main categories of symptoms for this disorder:

          1. Physical symptoms: racing heart, dizziness, stomach trouble, blushing, sweating, trembling, and dry mouth
          2. Emotional Symptoms: panic attacks, poor body image, nervousness, high levels of anxiety and fears.
          3. Behavioral Symptoms: Avoiding places/situations where you think you will be the center of attention; not pursuing activities for fear of embarrassment; becoming isolated, quitting school or a job, substance abuse.

          NIMH adds that poor eye contact, mind going blank, speaking softly, self-consciousness, and feeling awkward are also commonplace. Remember: these symptoms can be “normal” – we are looking only for a situation where it is prolonged and a true hinderance to functioning!

          What To Do About It

          The important factor is to do something about your Social Phobia as it can become more self-perpetuating over time. Here’s are a few ideas of how to get started.

          1. Ask a Doctor

          Don’t self diagnose, ask a doctor. Reach out!

          If you are concerned that social anxiety is preventing you from reaching your full potential, then seek consultation from a mental health professional or medical provider. Don’t suffer in silence!

          Fewer than 5% of people with social anxiety seek treatment after their symptoms begin and, in fact, 1/3 of sufferers report having symptoms for ten years or more before reaching out for help. 

          This is a needless impediment to your wellbeing, because studies indicate that this condition is highly treatable. In fact, one study claims an 85% improvement and sometimes full recovery after treatment! [4]

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          A family doctor, internal medicine physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist are among the types of providers experienced in diagnosing and treating Social Anxiety Disorder. Be sure to check reviews and recommendations in your community.

          Insider Tip!

          Experienced mental health providers always ensure that other factors aren’t the cause of your problem before assigning a psychiatric diagnosis. Many medical issues, medications, and even substance abuse can mimic psychiatric issues so it is essential to rule these out first. 

          Special note: Make sure your provider considers all angles without making any assumptions because some people truly do have both genuine psychiatric symptoms and a coincidental medical problems which can mimic it. 

          Diagnostics can get complex, so this is why only a credentialed provider should diagnose your concerns! 

          What Should You Expect?

          Most providers will conduct an intake evaluation where they will take a thorough history, check your symptoms against the DSM-5 criteria, provide you with an anxiety checklist or other type of self-report test instrument, and review your medical records to name a few possibilities.

          Be prepared to speak honestly about your history as the more data, the more accurate your diagnosis and recommendations will be. There are also resources, by Mayo Clinic and others, which provide some of the questions you might be asked. Preparation can certainly help with your anxiety about the interview. [5] 

          2. Treatment Options

          Here are some ways to try to regain your health!

          Psychiatric Treatments

          The most common types of treatment for social anxiety are psychotherapy, medication, or some combination thereof. 

          If you elect to take medication, your doctor can help you decide which one is right for you. Be sure to ask about how long it will take to notice improvement, any potential side effects, and how to weigh the risks versus benefits of the medication.

          As for psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a common option and NIMH found particularly good outcomes using cognitive therapy combined with a behavioral therapy group.[6]

          While the prospect of a group treatment might seem terrifying, it is deemed important so you can work on your symptoms in real-life scenarios with other group members.

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          What is the goal of psychiatric treatment? 

          A good goal to aspire to in the treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder is to decrease symptoms, learn to reframe negative thoughts about yourself, developing confidence in social situations, which in the end should help you develop the type of friendships, relationships, jobs, and other opportunities that you previously could not negotiate on your own.

          Alternatives

          Some organizations are proponents of alternative medicine as an adjunctive treatment. Treatments such as massage, meditation, mindfulness, hypnotherapy, and acupuncture are common place. 

          NAMI also suggests various self-management strategies (identifying one specific time to worry during the day, becoming an expert on your triggers, etc.); stress and relaxation techniques (e.g., breathing exercising, focused attention), and yoga (physical postures, breathing, and meditation). Exercise, like in many other areas, is also recommended but check with your doctor before starting an exercise plan.[7]

          3. Community Support

          Many churches, clubs, and local organizations provide support and healing opportunities for Social Anxiety Disorder. 

          The National Alliance of Mental Health provides educational and support resources to those with mental illness including social anxiety at 1-800-950-NAMI or info@nami.org

          4. Help Yourself!

          NAMI and other organizations provide many ideas for self-help as a first step or as an adjunct to formal treatment. Here are some  ideas for being proactive in your care:

          1. Become educated about medication and treatment options. 
          2. Know your personal triggers and stressors and plan ahead. 
          3. Actively participate in your treatment. 
          4. Don’t QUIT if it isn’t helping. Keep at it until something does.
          5. Live a healthy lifestyle – engage in exercise and de-stressors and watch your diet.
          6. Avoid drugs and alcohol as they affect emotional balance, sleep, and can interactive with medication. *This includes too much caffeine!
          7. Join online discussion groups.

          Practice Makes Improvement (If Not Perfect)

          Mayo recommends that sufferers participate in social situations by being with those you feel comfortable around.  Then, slowly increase the “risk” by branching out a bit more. Rather than throw yourself into a wild frat party, you might first want to take a small interesting class where the teacher does most of the talking.

          You might find that these are “safe” settings to meet people since it is highly structured and there is inherently a reason to speak with your peers. It also levels the playing ground as all of you are “new” in this social setting. [8]

          Mayo further suggests that you actually practice socializing, just as you might practice piano. Here are some examples they suggested:

          • Eat with a close relative, friend or acquaintance in a public setting.
          • Purposefully make eye contact and return greetings from others, or be the first to say “hello”.
          • Give someone a compliment.
          • Ask a retail clerk to help you find an item.
          • Get directions from a stranger.
          • Show an interest in others — ask about their homes, children, grandchildren, hobbies or travels, for instance.
          • Call a friend to make plans.

          While these might seem like basic tasks to our more extroverted friends, this can be seemingly unsurmountable to our friends with Social Anxiety Disorder!

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          Be Kind (To Yourself)

          Learning these new social skills is taxing. Remember to be kind to yourself along the way. Mayo suggests that you spend some time with people you already know and feel comfortable with such as long-term friends and family. 

          Another idea is to engage in pleasurable activities and hobbies when you’re anxious. 

          Remind yourself that anxiety doesn’t last forever and that you have survived it before and will survive it again. 

          Never, Ever Give Up

          As you begin your treatment strategies, don’t give up. Don’t ever, ever give up. 

          Social Anxiety Disorder, as we stated earlier, is a treatable disorder, so every single small step gets you further to your end goal.

          Remember: As you practice, you will invariably fail and have set-backs. It is normal so just expect it! Progress isn’t linear– it occurs with step-by-step small gains over time. 

          The Future You

          Remember that the best time to start is now. Be a strong, stubborn, tenacious self-advocate. Get help if needed to take the step toward wholeness and healing now!

          No matter whether your goal is having close friends, being more effective at work, or even finding a new relationship partner, being able to successfully connect with others can indeed transform a lonely, frustrating life into a more fulfilling one.

          Take the step.

          Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

          Reference

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