Episode 11: Jealousy and Envy
We live in a world of competition and comparing which can easily slide into Jealousy and Envy. I hope today to shine the light on these two so you can understand them better. Why we feel this way, how it tends to show up in our lives, and how we can overcome these feelings and be able to create confidence in these areas instead.
I’m Hannah Coles and you are listening to the Confidence Catalyst podcast episode 11, Jealousy and Envy
Hi there, welcome back to the show! I hope you are all doing fabulously well. I love hearing from you all during the week on social media and email. Thanks for reaching out and sharing your stories and how this work has helped you become more confident and able to just shine in your lives. I love being a coach and working with so many incredible people. It’s just the best ever.
JEALOUSY AND ENVY
One thing that I’ve been wanting to talk about on the show is Jealousy and Envy. It’s something that everyone has experienced and actually pops up more often than you might realize. I remember years ago prior to learning about life coaching I was sitting in my car waiting for one of my kids to get out of their music lesson and I turned on a podcast. The topic was Envy and I thought, I can’t remember the last time I was envious. Not really something I need to work on and I was about to switch to another episode when an acquaintance knocked on my car window.
So I rolled it down and smiled and started chatting with her. She told me they just started at the school and already they’re bumping her daughter up to this more advanced level. And at first I was like, “wow! That is amazing! Good for you!”
But then she kept talking and telling me all about her brand new amazing car and all the cool features it had. She told me how her husband has this amazing job and so they’re able to donate x amount of dollars to the school. That she and her daughters just went on this month long trip to I can’t remember where, somewhere super fun.
And as she kept talking I felt myself just start to shrink. Here I was in my old, but paid off dingy car. I had been paying and taking my kids to music lessons for years to get to the level they’re at.
We’re pretty good at taking annual trips and such with our family but we haven’t traveled as extensively as she did.
And the more she talked, the more thoughts I had and the worse I felt.
Comparing and despairing
I started comparing and listening to all her good fortune and how it was better than what I had. Her car, her vacation, her kids talents, her money. And it didn’t help that she’s drop dead gorgeous and is like a size 0. The conversation was less than 30 minutes but it felt so painfully long and when she walked away I felt awful about myself and wasn’t too fond of her anymore either and I had to laugh at myself because just prior to that encounter I was feeling so good about myself, confident in my season, and that I wasn’t really an envious or jealous person and just like that I was reminded of some areas I could work on.
So I grabbed my notebook that I always carry with me and I took detailed notes because clearly I needed it and when I became a coach I noticed this pattern showing up more and more in the lives of my clients and especially in the work that I do to help people up level their lives and be able to show up confident despite what the circumstances are around you or that others have more of what you want. Because here’s the thing, Confidence cannot exist when you’re feeling jealous and/or envious. Yes, you might be confident in certain areas but when you start to think about it you’re not confident, sure, certain in the area you’re feeling jealous or envious of.
Understanding the two:
I hope today to shine the light on these two so you can understand them better. Why we feel this way, how it tends to show up in our lives, and how we can overcome these feelings and be able to create confidence in these areas instead.
Let me start by saying that there is a difference between the two and I’m going to talk about both today but to start, what’s the difference between jealous and envy?
Both Jealousy and Envy are what I call secondary emotions. They’re emotions that stem from a deeper emotion. In this case the primary emotion is fear. Jealousy is the fear that you might lose something. We can be jealous of friends hanging out with other friends or family spending more time at another family members house because we FEAR that we’re losing affection, time, and attention.
Envy on the other hand is wanting something that someone else has. It’s the focus and emphasis of not having something. When you look at Instagram and you see pictures of beautifully decorated, organized, immaculately clean homes and you look around your own home with piles here and there are dishes in the sink. You might feel envious that you don’t have what they have and you really, really want it.
It’s important to differentiate which you’re experiencing because each feeling will create a different action, which creates a different result. So Envy is wanting something you don’t have. Jealousy is the fear that you might lose something you do have.
Jealousy is a bit harder to pinpoint sometimes because we don’t always recognize that we’re afraid of losing something. We just feel a very unpleasant feeling and try to fix it, change the circumstance, or act defensively not even really knowing that’s what you’re doing. Let me give you an example,
There was a client once that was experiencing a lot of jealousy towards friends and family members. She was jealous of the relationship some of her family had with these friends that she was also friends with. She called her sister in law to ask if she was going to this activity and her sister in law said no and that she was going to hang out with this other friend.
Now immediately she felt jealousy. She started thinking about all the things they were going to do and all the fun they’d probably have together.
She started ruminating about this sister in law and speculating and creating this whole dramatic story about the sister in law just wanting to show off and rub it in her face. Then she started judging the sister in law and the friend and just felt horrible.
Dr. Hupka said, “Jealousy is an anticipatory emotion. It seeks to prevent loss.”
So her reaction to hearing this was to believe that the sister in law was rubbing it in face, she started judging her and thinking of all the ways she was lacking in her mind, of course. It was her way of preventing loss. If she could make the sister in law less desirable then the outing and the get together would be less painful and less of a loss. She was trying to make herself feel better by lowering the sister in law. It’s not an attractive trait and I’m sure you can relate to different areas of this in your own life when you’ve felt and then acted out of jealousy.
There’s a lot of jealousy when it comes to physical appearance. Women who see other beautiful women get jealous because they have something they want or that they used to have and now things have changed. They see other women who are thinner and have cute clothes and they start comparing themselves to these women. They starting thinking thoughts like, “I used to be so thin. I used to look like that.” And they start feeling terrible inside about themselves because they’re making it mean that somehow they’re less than because this person is beautiful.
And part of this comes from our societies cultural beliefs that women should look a certain way, you should weigh a certain amount, you should act a certain way. So even on a very subconscious level we’re creating fear and worry that manifests itself as jealousy because you think it’s a threat to you and your overall acceptance.
And then what happens is out of self preservation we have all kinds of defensive thoughts. We start justifying why we’re a certain way. “Well, I bet she hasn’t had kids yet. I’ve had 5! If I didn’t have 5 kids it’d be easy for me to be thin too.” Thoughts that are poor attempts at making you feel better by putting her down. If you can lower her in your eyes then she’s not as much of a threat to you and possibly, hopefully then you can feel better. But you don’t feel better. Thinking these thoughts only make you feel worse because deep down you still really believe all the jealous thoughts and now you’ve added guilt to the mix for thinking these judgmental thoughts.
And that’s really one of the ugliest side effects of jealousy. It doesn’t end with comparing or feeling bad. It’s an act of defense. You feel threatened in some way so your actions are rash and out of control because you’re trying to make yourself feel better and keep what you have.
I want to say here too, that while these feelings aren’t fun or pleasant I still am grateful for these feelings. Negative feelings aren’t something to run away from but to lean into – to understand. It’s not something I ever want to live with and stay with but these feelings that come up shine light on areas we can improve on. It’s like pain. No one wants to feel pain but pain is a blessing, it’s a sounding alarm that something is wrong, something needs attention.
So when you understand what jealousy is and that you’re acting out of self-preservation, desperately trying to prevent loss it’s easier to access compassion – whether that’s for yourself or others.
Let’s talk about Envy. Envy is believing that you need something that you don’t have in order to be happy. You look at instagram and you see people going on all kinds of trips and vacations and you’re envious because they look so happy and that must be so fun and if only I had that, if I made more money, if my husband had a better job then I could have that too and then I’d be happy.
Envy shows up when you see other’s succeeding in their lives in different areas and you’re not succeeding as well as you think you should. It looks something like this, You see your friend building a brand new beautiful home with pottery barn everything and it just looks like they have it all. You feel envious and then you start looking at your house and start noticing all the chips in the paint and dents in the walls and you think, I’ll never have that. My house is ugly and old and I need more money to have and do everything I want. So you’re trapped in your own world of thought and scarcity totally unhappy and stuck.
Need something external to be happy
In both cases there’s this underlying belief that you need the thing – the money, the trip, the job, the person, the attention, the approval, time, the something in order to be happy or feel better.
You believe that you will be happier with it, whatever it is – so I need to get that somehow, like when it’s envy. If only I made that much money a year. Or had that house or body then I would be happy. Or if it’s jealousy it’s thinking that if I don’t have that or it gets taken away from me or if someone else can do it better than me I won’t be happy anymore. So I need to prevent them from taking that from me. I need to be on alert and looking for danger and jealous of anyone or anything that might take that from me.
And that’s really important to realize because feelings don’t come from “it”. Feelings come from what you’re thinking about it. Feelings come from your thoughts and if you’re thinking I need that to be happy. If I don’t have that I won’t be happy you’re creating jealousy and envy.
Fixed Amount – There’s no pie
So one of the biggest areas of thoughts that I see this manifesting is the idea and belief that there’s a fixed, finite number or amount. That it’s like a pie and there’s only so many slices and if she gets a piece and she gets another piece then each piece that’s gone is a threat to me because there’s not going to be enough for me. With each slice that’s gone that’s less for you, that you can’t have enough because some of it is already taken so we act out of fear, of lack, and scarcity.
We believe we need that something external to be happy and when others are successful or getting or accomplishing things that we want we feel like there’s less for us. I’ve talked about this before but each time you tell yourself something, you give your brain a directive, a job to look for evidence to prove your thought/belief true.
So when you’re thinking and believing you need something external in order for you to feel good, your brain is looking for that. It’s like, oh, see…if you had more money then you’d be able to replace that, fix that, go there, buy that and then you’d be happy. And the problem with this is it isn’t giving you the results you want. It can never give you the results you want.
It won’t bring you happiness
What’s really fascinating is that people who are envious of others think that when they have that thing, when they get that amazing house, when they have all that money, when they get that job, or whatever it is then they’ll be happy but those people that they’re envious of aren’t problem free or happy all the time but they can’t see that because they just assume that they must have it all.
I was listening to a colleague of mine talk about her weight and she was always so envious of other women that had these tiny, cute, perfect bodies and she wanted that. In her mind she really believed that when she got that cute, tiny body that she’d be happy, her problems would be solved, and the world would be this amazing place. But then she lost all the weight and had this cute, tiny body and she was still unhappy only now she was envious of others that had a lot of money and that perfect house and that perfect friendship with a gang of girlfriends.
It won’t go away
Envy doesn’t just go away. It isn’t solved when you get the thing, whatever the thing is. Holland says, “Envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment!”
It’s a pattern and a habit that you practice. I know you don’t see it as practice but everything you do is a form of practice. Each thought you think is practicing something. Are you practicing thinking thoughts of, “If only I had what she has then I’d happy.” Or “Life would be so much better if only I had that big, gorgeous house.”
So each time you think that thought again and again and again, like, think about instagram and scrolling through and seeing all those posts with beautifully clean, decorated homes and each time you see it you have a thought. A quick subconscious thought. Maybe it’s a quick ugh. Or a sigh. Those still come from a belief now on an internal, subconscious level. You’re practicing envy. So no matter what you get, even if you got exactly what you wanted you’re going to find something else to be envious about. It’s never enough. You just keep thinking if only, if only and raising the bar to what it is you want and in the meantime chugging pickle juice and feeling terrible with each passing thought.
It’s not out there
It’s not out there. What you want, it’s not out there. Your problems will follow you no matter what you get, or how much you get it’ll still be there. Envy just keeps on giving and giving and giving and it feels terrible and lacking and never enough. Happiness is always outside of your grasp and reach. There are so many thin, beautiful, wealthy, successful women with beautiful homes, accomplished kids that are still miserable.
Think about what it is you want. What you’ve been envious of now or in the past. Do you also know people that have what you want that are still unhappy? I do. But we think that they’re doing wrong, like, if it were me, I’d do it right, I’d be happy. The world would be glorious!
There’s so much evidence all around us that shows us that they thing you want isn’t the key to happiness because if it were, the people that have it would be happy and they’re not. So we have to start by acknowledging that happiness isn’t out there. That THING won’t make you happy or sometimes we just think it won’t make us feel bad anymore.
If I had more money I wouldn’t worry about bills or lack. I could get the things I wanted and I wouldn’t feel bad anymore. I could be kinder to myself because I wouldn’t have a reason to beat myself up. I could believe I was successful if I made x amount of dollars. I could believe I was beautiful if I were a size double zero. I could believe that I’m lovable and wanted if I had a lot of friends.
Escape Negative Emotions
So part of this isn’t solely to feel happy, a lot of the time it’s looking for an escape to just get out of unhappiness. Permission to stop being mean to yourself and if I had that thing, if I were that thing then I wouldn’t have to feel bad anymore.
We do a lot of things to try and avoid negative feelings. I’ve talked about this before that negative feelings are part of the package. It’s the 50/50 in life that makes everything possible. Opposition in all things. Which means hardship and happiness.
Something that helped me out tremendously whenever I struggled with envy or jealousy was to believe that there’s no pie. Like I mentioned earlier, the idea that there’s only so much and if someone else has it then that’s less for me or none for me. I also like what James Keller said, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”
There’s enough for everyone
But we kind of think it does. We kind of think that when someone else gets good fortune of any kind that somehow that means less for you but that candle didn’t put yours out. It just illuminated the world all the more. So tell yourself each time you feel scarcity and lack and fear creeping in, there’s no pie. There’s enough for everyone. There is no pie. There is enough and more than enough of whatever it is you want. Truly. There is enough.
So anytime you start to feel envious, fear of not being able to have something you want or jealous, fear of losing something – tell yourself there’s no pie. There’s enough love, success, connection, happiness, joy, money for you to have what you want. There is no pie.
Circumstances are neutral
Lastly what I want to share today is we think we want all these things because it’ll keep us from feeling negative feelings and it’ll make us happy. But here’s the thing, feelings don’t come from things. If you remember the model, things go into the C category or the circumstance category.
Your weight is a circumstance.
Your bank account is a circumstance.
That house, that job, that friendship – circumstances.
Which means, one, that it’s neutral and two, that it doesn’t effect your feelings. There’s a big blocker in between! That’s your thoughts. It goes CIRCUMSTANCES, THOUGHTS, then feelings.
Someone else has x amount of money in their bank account. – that’s totally neutral. It’s just information. It doesn’t mean anything yet until you place a thought on it. Do you really want to think that thought creating envy, jealousy, negativity?
You’re an agent with power to decide
You get to decide. You get to use your agency to think, I don’t have enough. Or you can use it to think, “There’s no pie. There’s plenty for everyone.”
Which of those two thoughts will create the feeling you want?
The first creates envy, jealousy which results in erratic and irrational behavior. The other, what does the other create for you? When you think, “There’s no pie. There’s plenty for everyone.” What do you feel?
I feel confident. Assurance. Abundance even. When I’m not worried that I’m going to miss out I show up totally differently than when I’m envious and/or jealous.
What you think matters
What you think matters and all those feelings you’re trying so hard to avoid doesn’t come from external sources. It’s all in your head. It comes from the way you’re thinking and what you’re believing. Everything you do and think is a form of practice. What do you want to be practicing?
This is a game changer. The only reason you’re feeling envious or jealousy is because of a thought. You’re believing that you need something to be happy. That you need something outside of you to be happy. But what if you didn’t believe that thought?
It’s worth asking yourself. When you start to feel that jealousy and/or envy rising up inside of you try and find the thought. What is it you think you need? What is it you think will make you happy? Then ask yourself, What if I didn’t believe that thought? What if that weren’t true?
When you start questioning the thoughts and wondering why you’re believing them in the first place it’s much easier to access gratitude and even take steps towards abundance. Start with curiosity. Realize the only reason you’re feeling this way is because of a thought you’re choosing to believe. It’s a choice and what if you didn’t choose that anymore? What would change? How would you feel?
Envy and Jealousy are fear based feelings. They’re secondary to fear. Be compassionate instead of judgmental with yourself. Be curious and dig deeper to find out what your believing you need and then question if you really need it and why you think you do. Start to understand yourself. The more you question and wonder where that thought came from in the first place the more you’ve distanced yourself from the original offensive thought. The more room there is for new thoughts, new beliefs, new feelings.
Okay, all…As always, I love chatting with you and hearing about all the fun places you guys take me while you’re listening. I’ve got a webinar coming up soon so if you have any questions you’d like addressed go ahead and email me at email@example.com and I’ll make sure to get to as many of those as I can.
Or better yet, you should sign up for a consult call to speak with me personally. This won’t always be an option so while it’s available, you should absolutely take advantage of it. Just head over to my website and book that soon.
Have a great week, my friends! See you next time.