Conquering Envy in Yourself

“Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate.” ― William Arthur Ward

What is envy? A natural reaction towards someone who is a winner.

It is defined by the Oxford Concise Dictionary as "discontented or resentful longing aroused by another's possessions, qualities or luck" – occurs in the workplace and in the social settings.

Workplace Envy

Workplace envy, as defined by Harvard Business Review, is the distress we feel when others get what we want. Professional envy rears its head when you have missed on getting a plum project that you were looking forward to, or you missed being considered for a promotion. Envy makes you behave in several different ways, which is not considered good for your own success or for your health. It does not allow you to think straight. You start getting aggressive in your behavior towards others, or you go into a shell. In either case, the loss is yours.

The feeling of envy should be acknowledged, and only then you would be able to bring it under control. There were times in my own career when I was envious of others. It brought me at times to the brink of depression. Only once I acknowledged it and used it to fuel my curiosity, I felt better. Instead of playing the victim, I spent time finding what the winners did to be more successful and gained the knowledge to improve my skills. It’s very difficult to let go the negativity, but once you decide to do it, it’s a very liberating experience.

When you are envious of others, you fall in your own eyes and your self-respect takes a dip. The feeling does not allow you to progress in your career or your life.

Social Envy

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide."

One of the greatest challenges of our times is that social media does not allow you to being yourself. Striving for creating a well-appointed life, showcasing it on social media even if something like it does not exist, has become a trend.

Someone will always be more pretty, smart, young, intelligent than you. People who feel envious looking at their friends on Facebook and Instagram are always struggling to be like them.

The story of my friend and mentee Kusum, Breaking Free from Social Comparison, talks about how several hours on Facebook got her into depression and impacted her career. Her obsession to log on to Facebook frequently just to check how her friends looked and how they dressed, was in fact proving to be stressful for her.

Changing yourself for social media acceptance is foolish. If you are yourself, people will love you more and most important is you will love yourself more.

Be Grateful and Focus on Yourself

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow's blessings instead of your own.” ― Harold Coffin

Moving past the feeling of envy can be challenging. Here are a few tips that have helped me conquer envy.

  • Instead of comparing myself to someone else, I have learned to compare myself to myself. Whenever I feel low, I look back at all my achievements in life. It is a great motivator. It reminds me that I can achieve everything if I have the determination and my goals are reasonable.
  • Be grateful for what you have. Small prayers of gratitude and journaling what I have helps me become emotionally stable.
  • Let go the negativity that comes with envy. This does sound difficult, but if you can busy yourself in a new role, new hobby, or learning something new, the negative feeling disappears. You don’t have any time left to nurse your negative feeling.It takes stoic resolve to ignore the feeling of envy, but it is worth the effort.


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