When I was five years old, I remember looking at little skinny girls. I wondered to myself: Why is my body so big? Why do I look so different from the others? Is something wrong with me?
Thoughts like this came and went for a while until my mom relocated to where the population was more diverse.
Over time I came to realize there were others who were built like me. This helped a lot, but of course as I got older I still found other things to envy: girls with longer hair, bigger butts, clearer skin, the list could go on to infinity!
So all of that to say…I’m pretty experienced with envy. According to the dictionary, envy is a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.
This post is about envy and how to transmute, transcend, or transform this emotion into a more beneficial one.
I started this post with a story about feeling different because I believe this is where envy can start. Envy can begin when you perceive your experience or trait as different than someone else, and it can grow when you start to place meaning on that difference. Usually a negative meaning.
Here’s a really mundane example:
First: I see a woman with a Louis Vuitton bag.
Next: I consider the fact that I do not have enough money to afford a Louis Vuitton bag, and therefore I notice that I am DIFFERENT from her.
Then: I conclude that this DIFFERENCE makes me less than, and then I become upset. I am upset that I do not currently have the money to buy the bag, and I believe it makes me a less poppin’* individual. Therefore I am envious. I’m resentful because the woman has a Louis bag which I wish I could have, but I don’t.
So what happened? I saw a woman with something I do not currently have. I noticed I didn’t have it. (I’m different than her). And I made it mean something negative. IE: Because I don’t have what she has, I’m not poppin.
At some point in my life, I got tired of feeling envy. I mean, I am who I am. What’s the point of sitting around mad at that? I intend to live a long life in good health. Why muck it up feeling envious?
Envy ain’t healthy. At all. It’s stressful. And bad for your skin.
So how do you beat it and overcome envy? How can you turn envy into something more beneficial? I’ve got some tips for you:
–Name it. Own it.
In my novel, Mr. Magick, the protagonist, Diane, is jealous of a woman named Portia because she has everything she wants: beauty, status, and a sexy man who worships her.
It isn’t until Diane owns the fact that she is envious of this girl, that she was able to make any real change in her own life.
Whenever you find yourself feeling bad about yourself for what makes you different from someone else, take a note of it. Don’t ignore it and act like you didn’t feel it.
That’s called denial. And denial always comes back to haunt you with the same ass problem you thought you got rid of. We don’t want that. Own your envy so you can fix that shit.
Ask yourself…self…why am I envious? Stay with the feeling.
I know, you log into Instagram and you see a beautiful woman’s picture. Your heart speeds up and you run to the mirror to point out your own flaws and compare yourself to the picture.
What’s happening here? Why are you comparing yourself to this woman who isn’t you?
Were you bullied? Do you think you aren’t good enough? Are you disappointed in yourself for not taking better care of your body? Are you dealing with childhood trauma? Are you depressed? Are you not spending enough time practicing self-care?
Ask yourself as many questions as you can whenever you feel envy, because the more you know about why you feel that way, the easier it will be for you to choose a better emotion to feel.
–Discover your true need
All emotions are messengers. That’s right. Each and every emotion you have is teaching you something and communicating something to you. The thing is, some emotions are beneficial and some are detrimental, if you stay in them long term. Long periods of envy can turn into depression or low-self esteem.
In order to envy someone, you must believe there is something this person has whether it is a trait, item, or whatever, that you should have, yet you don’t.
Whatever you are envious of is not about the thing itself. I repeat: whatever you are envious of is not about the thing itself. It’s deeper. It’s about what the thing MEANS to you.
Let’s go back to the Louis Bag example. If I see a woman with a Louis bag and I become envious, I have to ask myself: What does a Louis bag represent to me?
For me, a Louis Bag May be a sign of wealth and status. Okay, so then I ask myself again. What does wealth and status mean to me, emotionally? What would it mean if I were wealthy or had status? How would it feel?
Maybe it means I feel lovable.
There’s the real need. The Louis bag is simply a representation of my true emotional need…which is to feel lovable.
So what I need to work on is LOVING MYSELF, before I even begin to think about scrambling up some cash for the bag. Because if I get the bag and I still don’t really love myself, I’ll find something else to be envious of with the quickness.
This digging process isn’t always fun, but it’s necessary if you want to get to the root of your envy problem. Envy is never about the surface thing you want…it’s about what that thing means to you emotionally.
–Last step. Give yourself the emotional need.
In the previous step we found that the emotional need my envy was based on was feeling unlovable. No Louis Bag=no status= no wealth= I’m unlovable. That’s the equation.
So how do I change this belief? Simple. I give myself love. Whatever that looks like for me. If a bubble bath makes you feel loved, take one daily. If getting your nails done makes you feel loved, do it. If journaling or going to see a therapist makes you feel loved, do it. If having sex makes you feel loved…you get the point.
All that matters is that you are honest with yourself and that you are really working to FEEL loved. Because envy is an emotion, you must reach for a different emotion to change it.
WASH RINSE REPEAT.
Every time you experience envy cropping up, go through the steps:
- OWN YOUR ENVY
- QUESTION YOUR ENVY
- DISCOVER YOUR TRUE EMOTIONAL NEED
- GIVE YOURSELF THAT NEED
*poppin’= a fly, gorgeous female
NOW GO FORTH AND TRANSFORM THAT ENVY!!! 💚