The Positive Side of Envy

Awareness gives us the power and permission to make big changes in our own lives.



We all know how badly it feels when we are envious of someone else. There are times when we want what someone else has or feel unhappy about the success of another.

Sometimes these feelings are misinterpreted as feelings of hostility, anger or shame. To be clear, there are other triggers rather than just material possessions. We tend to envy people in our community, social circle, and family who are well regarded, admired, influential, and successful.  

Envious feelings stem from deep-rooted feelings of dissatisfaction with our self-image, our life accomplishments and low self-esteem.

How can examining our envious feelings help us? Awareness gives us the power and permission to make big changes in our own lives.

Below are 4 tips to help you find the positive side of envy:

1.   Be honest with yourself about your envious feelings. Most of us do not want to admit that we have envious feelings toward another. It’s important to accept these feelings as a normal part of life.  Write a list of what exactly it is you envy about a particular person.

2.   Decide what can be realistic goals for you to pursue. We all have our own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Pursue goals that are compatible with your strengths and talents and make a plan for achieving them.

3.   Minimize social comparisons. It’s normal to socially compare to others and to feel competitive. These are the measures we use for our own self-evaluation. Self-esteem is determined by how well we measure up on our social comparisons. For example, if we measure up to our expectations and goals we feel good and excited. If we do not measure up we feel depressed or ashamed. Persistent social comparisons can be damaging to our self-esteem and increase our envious feelings, especially when we feel we are not measuring up to our ideal selves.  

4.   Interpret your envious feelings as an opportunity for growth. Examining what, who and why you envy makes you aware of what you want in your life. Remember, you would not feel as strongly about the person you envy if whatever they have is not also important or a priority for you.

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A CONVERSATION ABOUT OUR MENTAL HEALTH

About This Blog

Dr. Paula Durlofsky is a psychologist in private practice in Bryn Mawr, whose practice focuses on psychological issues affecting individuals, couples, and families.

Dr. Durlofsky treats a wide variety of disorders and has a special interest in issues affecting women. She is affiliated with Bryn Mawr Hospital, Lankenau Hospital, the Women's Resource Center in Wayne, and the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. In addition to her practice, Dr. Durlofsky is a workshop facilitator and blogger. 

If you have questions or feedback for Dr. Durlofsky, please don't hesitate to reach out to her via email at drpauladurlofsky@gmail.com.

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