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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

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

          More by this author

          Brian Lee

          Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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          Published on April 7, 2021

          6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

          6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

          Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

          While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

          1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

          Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

          If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

          In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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          2. They Make Everything Transactional

          Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

          For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

          Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

          A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

          Some statements to be wary of include:

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          • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
          • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
          • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
          • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

          3. They Criticize Everything

          One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

          However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

          Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

          • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
          • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
          • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
          • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

          4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

          We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

          For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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          This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

          5. They Socially Isolate You

          Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

          Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

          This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

          In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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          6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

          It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

          Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

          Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

          • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
          • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
          • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
          • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

          Final Thoughts

          It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

          More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

          Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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