Have you ever felt envy? Envy is not a very nice feeling to have. Envy is a resentful or unhappy feeling of wanting what somebody else has – their success, their good fortune, qualities or possessions.
We’ve all had periods in our lives when things aren’t going as well as we would like them to. For some of us, we might have several areas where this might be happening. I know that I have wished at times that I had the life that other people have had. It’s quite normal to feel this way – we must be careful however that we don’t let envy take over our lives and drag us into a painful pit.
Take a coin out of your pocket and look at it – on one side is heads and on the other is tails. Think of envy in terms of the coin. Picture envy as one side of the coin and love as the other side. You know that a coin only sits on one side at a time and if that side is the side of envy, the side of love is blocked. But fear not, there is hope – learn to move away from envy and toward love.
STEP 1 – ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM
The first step is to acknowledge envy – don’t judge it. I’ve found that when I acknowledge that I have a problem, change is just around the corner. It’s what happens next that really defines who you are.
If you were raised in a family where your needs were not met, you may feel envious of your friends who appeared to have better lives. Maybe you look at other families and see them as loving and kind because of the things that they do. You may envy the fact that their friends dad shows up at their soccer games while you not only have to go alone but also have to find a ride. Maybe they have wonderful holiday get togethers while in your house things are less stable. This is often the case where there is a lot of alcohol abuse for example and it is made even worse if money that could be used for food is used to support a drinking habit. You might be envious of the family that seems to be more stable.
I spoke with a child recently who was envious of her best friend who had often taken vacations to Disney and other exciting places and she had never had a vacation in her life. In cases like this, we can see why people engage in envy. The list of things to be envious about is endless and can go on forever –your reasons are unique to you.
Acknowledge that you’re envious.
STEP 2 – TIME TO GET DIGGING
You’ve acknowledged that you’re envious and realize that you recognize that it is not serving you well and you are ready to stop. Like most change – it takes work, but this is work that will produce such positive results that you’ll be glad to do the work. I like to use a gardening analogy.
The Sumac tree is a tree in Nova Scotia that is a lovely piece of foliage and it is best planted at the edge of your property because it has a massive route system and tends to take over the garden. I had a Sumac tree growing in my front lawn very near my front door and it was unsightly. It had not been cared for and the roots were travelling very near the surface with small shoots every couple of feet. I decided to take it out.
When I started, the job was a lot more difficult than I thought. Every time I thought I had it all pulled out, another little plant would sprout up 20 feet from the original tree. I’d start again pulling it out.
Clearing envy out of your life is like taking out the Sumac – it takes work and you may not realize how deep or broad the envy has spread in your life. But after a bit, you see the progress and there are less and less instances of it. Keep acknowledging the envy, don’t judge and then pull it out.
STEP 3: START PLANTING AGAIN
“Nature abhors a vacuum.” I removed those roots, had to replace it with rich soil and grass seed while tending to and nurturing the new growth of healthy lawn. Envy is the same – you take it out, remove it from your life and replace it with love. Love is easy and involves caring for yourself and others in balance.
Look at the blessings in your own life that you may have overlooked while you were in envy mode – you may not have material possessions but there is so much richness in our lives that has nothing to do with materialism. Are you a good friend? Do you bring joy to others? Is your sense of humour bringing happiness into someone’s life. Don’t under estimate the riches you already have.
Envy is a poison that needs to be removed and replaced with healing, nurturing love. Take the time to acknowledge it, remove it and replace it with life giving love. You won’t be sorry.