Sunday, June 28, 2009

dealing with the green-eyed monster

“our envy of others devours us most of all.”—Alexander Solzhenitsyn

the merriam-webster dictionary defines envy as:
“painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another,
joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.”
it’s no surprise that a fair number of people are suffering a spell of envy.
the combination of people losing their jobs (or husbands)
and position in society with so many still caught up in the modern obsession with being ‘somebody’,
would almost guarantee it,
let alone the extra spur of learning almost daily how much
the rich and powerful have been taking for themselves.

envy is also built into the modern belief
in competition as an essential spur to success.

what drives competition save some level of envy of the winners?

and if envy can be a positive motivator in some cases, as it can,
mental health statistics and reports also point in a different direction,
showing how envy can become the catalyst that leads to depression, resentment, malice and deep-seated negativity and eventual dementia, melancholia.

competition works for the winners.
envy has least impact on those who already ‘have it all’.
for the rest, it’s usually negative in the extreme.

envy isn’t about others. it’s about you.

the underlying energy around envy is twofold:
both wanting what others have and
dwelling on what you suspect may be wrong with you.
it’s a place smelling of self-loathing and self-pity.
it’s a spur to feeling ‘less than’ and focusing on what you don’t have.
lack attracts lack.
caught up in a downward spiral of envy,
you’re steadily moving backwards, sowing more seeds of doubt about your real worth.
the corrosive power of envy comes from this accompanying sense of deficiency.
like an ulcer, it eats away at you.
it runs your life and builds frustration.
it warps your perspective, making you want to ‘get even’ with anyone who even seems to have more than you.
it is completely self-destructive.
in the throes of envy,
you either obsess about ways to prop up your ego,
or plan how to denigrate others for having what you imagine you ought to have too. either way, it’s a lose:lose proposition.

envy is never, never really about the other person.
it’s about you and your own sense of self-criticism and failure.
few of us realize we are our own target when it comes to envy, but it’s true.
only the person who believes, deep down, that he or she is a failure will be envious of others.

only the loser wastes time imagining how it would feel to see the winner knocked off that long-for pedestal.

people who are taken over by envy spend much of their time gossiping, bullying, spreading nasty rumors or quietly reveling in others’ mistakes.
secretly, they want others to fail because they imagine this will make them feel better about themselves.

envy quickly erodes relationships, eating away at intimacy, openness and connection. how can you deal fairly with others if you are simultaneously plotting how to ‘bring them down a peg or two’?