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It’s Okay To Be Envious As Long As You’re Not Jealous

It’s Okay To Be Envious As Long As You’re Not Jealous

Jealousy is often seen as a negative emotion or a bad trait to have. It is usually synonymous with actions such as revenge or bitterness especially when it triggers a certain energy within someone. In romantic scenarios, the idea of someone being jealous of their partner talking to another person is a typical example. Or perhaps you see someone else with something you desperately want but don’t have.

Jealousy can lead some of us to make decisions we later regret or at least cause us to become cold and bitter. But there are also times when experiencing that feeling of envy can flick a switch inside of us. That yearning for something we don’t have can trigger us and fuel that determination to get what we want.

So can we look at jealousy differently? Can it actually be a good thing to feel envious? Could we use envy and jealousy to our advantage?

    The Subtle Difference Between Jealousy and Envy

    Jealousy is a natural emotion yet it’s been condemned by all cultures throughout history. It tends to be perceived with a negative charge with ultimate destructive tendencies either to other people or more likely just to our core selves. But while the negative energy can reside in envy, it can also be the basis for construction and motivation in our focus.

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    Small amounts of jealously can actually keep a relationship together or inspire us to be more attentive with our actions.

    So why do we even have the ability to feel these emotions?

    According to David Straker, author of Changing Minds, jealousy is primarily about our reaction to loss. When you are emotionally attached to something and it’s perceived as taken away from you or threatened to be taken away, your reaction is one of hurt and anger.

    Envy is more focused on what you don’t have. You may see someone with something you want and envy that person. The amount of envy you feel is relative to the amount of unfairness you feel about the situation and this negative energy is often aimed proportionally at the person in question. It can then spiral into inferior feelings of unworthiness and so the result is to justify things staying as they are instead of using it as motivation to achieve more.

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      When we break it down, envy is rooted in fear. It’s the fear of feeling weak, powerless or less-than. Advertisers all know about this and tap into the envy lurking in our subconscious to get us to compete with others and spend money to essentially keep up with the Jones’.

      There’s an interesting quote from Helmut Schoeck’s book, Envystates: “Envy is a drive which lies at the core of man’s life as a social being, and which occurs as soon as two individuals become capable of mutual comparison.” He also notes, “It is the great regulator in all personal relationships: fear of arousing it curbs and modifies countless actions.”

      Often, if someone shines a spotlight on an accomplishment of ours there’s a need to counteract this by us mentioning some misfortune to balance it out. The negativity around envy is born out of comparisons which only become stronger within a close-knit society and people with similar and comparable backgrounds to us.

      How The ‘Flaw’ of Envy Can Be a Good Thing

      It’s important to perceive envy as an indicator to where your focus is and where it’s guiding you. It’s an opportunity to stand back and re-evaluate your mindset and what you want in life.

      What is this feeling of envy telling you? Is there a certain direction you want to follow? Why are you having these feelings?

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      Understand that when you feel envy, it’s not about the other person or circumstance, it’s fundamentally about you. It’s time to question yourself – not in a judgemental way – but rather a means to focus on what needs to change within yourself in order to get what you want.

      Envy is an illusion. It’s not about reality but all about our own perception. Once we understand this, we can use this as fuel for motivation and changing our mindset towards ourselves and our situation.

      How To Use Envy To Your Advantage

      When feelings of envy come up in your life, question yourself.

      1. What can I learn from this person’s success?
      2. What’s been stopping me from thinking bigger with my life and not achieving what they’ve achieved?
      3. Have I set the right standards for my own success? Have I appreciated what I’ve already achieved or have I just dismissed milestones? Am I not getting recognition because I’ve been envious of others rather than recognising their successes positively?

      Embracing our negative emotions is key because they’re there to show us changes we need to make. Envy and jealously opens up doors that we need to acknowledge and walk through.

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        When we realise envy is more about us we can understand that it’s really us acknowledging other’s fortunes instead of our own. Jean Vanier stated that, “envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.”

        Therefore the best cure for envy is prosperity and the best thing about envy is the opportunity for motivation and change in your life. If you’re feeling the emotion of envy strongly, it may be an important indicator to let you know there are perspectives about your own life that you need to re-evaluate. Use it for motivation and positivity rather than the negative and powerless charge we’re led to believe it is.

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel.com via pexels.com

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        Anna Chui

        Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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        Last Updated on September 18, 2020

        How to Break Free From Negative Thinking for Good

        How to Break Free From Negative Thinking for Good

        Negative thinking can make us feel as though we are never truly good enough to change our lives. Whether we believe that we are not good looking enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, or something in between, we are always right.

        We often tell ourselves the following:

        “I’m not good enough to accomplish this.”

        “They won’t like me. I’m too ugly to be around them.”

        “I won’t ever be able to get out of this situation.”

        How we see ourselves dictates how we lead our lives. This simple truth, while it is currently impacting your reality in a negative way, is actually good news. Why?

        You can change your thinking, and when you can change your thoughts, you can change your reality.

        Put simply, if you start to believe and feel like you are good-looking, intelligent, wealthy, or other things, you begin to see yourself in that light. If you tell yourself that you are capable of achieving greatness, you will eventually get there!

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        That said, many find themselves wondering what to do when they get stuck in negative thinking. Are you tired of letting negative thinking run your life? Do you want to take control of how you feel and put yourself out there?

        If you want to start writing your own narrative, let’s learn more about negative thought cycles and how you can change your own internal voice.

        Where Do Negative Thoughts Come From?

        You aren’t going to wake up one day and find that you are suffering from random negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are often a mix of ideas that we develop on our own, as well as ideas that we may have gotten from others.

        For example, if you are constantly watching media where individuals are depicted as having thin bodies and perfect skin (and you do not have the same characteristics as those who are traditionally considered to be beautiful), you may come to the conclusion that you are not beautiful or deserving of love.

        This is far from the truth, but your own take on how the world works can play into how you feel about yourself.

        Equally harmful, the opinions of others can start to affect our self-perception. If several people tell you something negative about yourself, you may begin to take these opinions to heart, telling yourself the same things over time. This self-belief then becomes the model for how you live.

        More often than not, the reality is that individuals who lack confidence and self-esteem are going to develop negative thought patterns.

        This does not mean that confident people do not face internal crises of their own. After all, everyone is prone to experiencing a negative thought here and there. However, those who are self-aware and confident are able to bounce back from these thoughts and return to their truth.

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        Those who do not think highly of themselves, on the other hand, are going to keep believing the negative thoughts that come into their mind. The issue? These negative thoughts turn into a repetitive cycle that becomes harder to break over time.

        When you tell yourself something for months or years at a time, it can be difficult to transform that internal dialogue into something more positive and realistic. But is it possible? Absolutely!

        The Importance of Quitting Negative Thinking

        Beyond low-self esteem, there may be mental health-related causes behind your negative thought patterns, like depression. One of the major symptoms of depression is, you guessed it, negative thoughts. Depression can make us feel unworthy of love and life, even if we have everything we could wish for[1].

        You may be struggling with anxiety disorders instead, which can paint uncertain visions of the future and leave you anticipating the worst long before the moment has arrived. Some people have anxiety about the present or will return to past moments where they felt as though they failed, which affects their feelings about who they are or who they will be[2].

        Having mental health issues can make your situation more complex, but it is important to know that these types of health issues are highly treatable, especially with the assistance of a mental health professional. You are deserving of self-love, and getting help is the first, most important step of your journey!

        How to Break the Cycle of Negative Thinking

        In order to overcome your negative thought process, you are going to need two things: self-awareness and a willingness to love yourself. Once you are armed with these two tools, take a look below to learn more about how you can break free of the cycle of negative thinking.

        1. Become Aware of the Thoughts That Are Affecting You

        Negative thoughts are hard to catch because they have a tendency to become a part of who we are. These thoughts build our belief system and go unchallenged, even when they pop up daily.

        All change begins with awareness. Whatever it is that you believe about yourself, take the time to pay attention to your own dialogue.

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        What are you saying to yourself on a regular basis? How does it make you feel? Is any of it true?

         

        When these thoughts are brought to your attention, you begin to notice just how often you are saying these things to yourself. Once you’ve cultivated awareness around these thoughts, you can begin to develop the change that you want.

        2. Learn to Accept Them as They Come (and Move on)

        A lot of people believe that you have to completely remove negative thinking patterns from your life in order to be happy. Not only is this not possible, but it’s also not true. You are going to experience negative thoughts regardless. It’s what you decide to do with these thoughts that matters.

        Next time a negative thought comes into your mind, treat it like a passing car. Acknowledge it and let it pass you by. Don’t try to wave the driver over to you or continue thinking about once it has passed. Just let it go.

        Giving power to your thoughts allows them to have control over you. You can’t stop a negative thought from entering your mind, but you always have the power to let it go!

        3. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

        Our own beliefs play on a loop, telling us certain things over and over again. While it’s important to let go, it is also important to get to the root of these issues and figure out where they are coming from.

        Let’s imagine that you are telling yourself you are stupid throughout the day. If you notice this pattern, ask yourself: Does this have any basis in reality? Am I really stupid or am I telling myself this unnecessarily? Is there any evidence to support this[3]?

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        Challenge negative thinking by asking questions.

          Challenging your negative thoughts will help you realize that they are highly-exaggerated and untrue. This gives you the opportunity to transform these negative thoughts into positive ones that resonate with you.

          4. Replace These Thoughts with Kinder, More Realistic Alternatives

          Anything that is broken must be replaced. The broken record playing on a loop within you can easily be changed to a tune that you can actually sing to.

          Whenever a negative thought comes up, take the time to stop yourself and think of something positive to put in its place. If you find yourself saying, “I can’t do this,” try telling yourself that you are more than capable instead.

          Keep in mind, however, that you need to tell yourself things that you truly believe. If you start telling yourself things that don’t resonate with you and encounter a situation that proves your belief wrong, you may do more harm than good!

          Bottom Line

          Changing the way you think is a rigorous but rewarding process that will change your outlook on life. If you find yourself struggling with negative thinking, learn more about where they come from and how you can stop them for good with the guide above!

          More on How to Stop Negative Thinking

          Featured photo credit: Max Ilienerwise via unsplash.com

          Reference

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