Envy arises when we wish we had something that someone else has.
Maybe you know someone who has decided to take a new job, go back to school or start his own business and you feel that dark emotion rising. You may even feel a little defensive or judgmental thinking something along the lines of “He’s crazy to quit a steady job to go back to school” or “Her business will probably fail — I’m the smart one for sticking with the safe 9-to-5.” When you feel envy, your subconscious is trying to tell you, “I’d like to do that too!” But there’s conflict as another part of you is shutting that desire down fast because it seems dangerous or risky. The internal conflict is why it feels bad.
When you feel envy, your subconscious is trying to tell you, “I’d like to do that too!”
For years before I started my own business, I felt a sharp pang of envy when I’d see people running their own businesses. I had struggled for years to scratch my own entrepreneurial itch while working in big corporations. My appetite for risk and variety were appreciated by my employers during times of change, but were looked at as trouble when things got back to normal. Part of me was screaming, “Leave this civilized place and go run free in the wild” while another part was saying “What about your 401(k) and health insurance?” If you ever have similar internal arguments raging inside, take some time to figure out what’s really going on there.
Your heart and soul may be trying to tell you something that your head doesn’t want to hear. Often, we have ideas that we don’t allow ourselves to explore out of fear — fear that we’ll fail, fear that we’ll succeed, fear of change, fear of what people will say, or fear of who we’ll be outside of the status quo.
Next time you feel envy, invite it to sit for a while and tell you why it’s there.
I encourage you to let your heart and soul tell you what they want. Those parts want you to have joy and meaning in your life. Your head is the rational overseer that wants to make sure you are safe. Envy arises when there’s conflict between these parts of yourself. When you allow your head to slam the door on your heart and soul, you're basically telling yourself that you don't deserve happiness or joy — that it's not even worth seeing if it would be possible to pursue your dreams. Pay attention to what lies beneath when you feel those feelings and ask yourself if there’s a way to pursue your heart’s desire while also taking care of your practical needs.
Often there is a way but we don’t explore it because our brains shut it down before we can even begin. And we keep feeling envy when someone else does what we’d really like to do and we struggle on — not feeling the happiness and success that could be ours if we let ourselves be who we want to be.
So next time you feel envy, invite it to sit for a while and tell you why it’s there.