Envy is a shadow emotion.
It’s the dark side of desire, and it shields itself as so many different things.
We often don’t realize that we’re jealous of someone until it’s boiled over into an anger so hot, we are forced to stop and ask ourselves why we are so lost in rage.
We often don’t realize that we’re jealous of someone because the people we are jealous of often aren’t superhuman. There are enough beautiful people in the world that we could envy, but we don’t, because the people whose lives we most deeply covet are the ones that are most similar to our own.
In that is the lesson.
The people we envy are not our enemies, they are our mentors.
They are our mentors because what they are really showing us is what we aren’t allowing ourselves to have.
What they are really showing us is the depth of our desire.
What they are really giving us is clarity.
The people we envy are our mentors because envy itself is an enlightening, guiding emotion. It shows us what we want for ourselves, and think we can’t have. It shows us what we want to pursue, but think we aren’t able. It shows us what we want to have, but assume we don’t deserve.
When we someone who has what we really want, instead of reconciling our own desire, we try to suppress them as well.
We try to humanize and villianize them. We try to find fault wherever we can. Instead of allowing their lives to be proof that what we want is possible, we instead deny that they could possibly have achieved that which we are so convinced we ourselves could never have.
Instead of recognizing that our envy is showing us the places in which we want to grow, we displace the feeling, and blame someone else instead.
You do not want the exact life that someone else has.
You want whatever it is they are giving themselves permission to have, to feel, and to pursue.
Maybe you see someone else in a relationship. It’s not that you want to be with their exact partner, it’s that you also want to put yourself out there and find someone who matters to you. Maybe you see someone who is attractive. It’s not that you want to look exactly like them, it’s that you want to feel good about who you are. It’s not that you want exactly what they have, it’s that you want permission.
That’s why we’re more likely to be jealous of our peers than we are a celebrity. We’re more likely to envy the people just close enough to us than the people far away — even if those people are the ones who have far more than we could ever imagine.
We don’t covet it because what we envy are the lives that are ever so slightly elevated from our own. They’re just out of reach, but not so impossibly far away that they seem unrealistic.
That’s the thing about envy: underneath it all, the thing we most deeply desire is also the thing that we know, at some level, we are capable of having.
What we want is not to suppress someone else’s joy.
What we want is not to take away someone else’s success.
What we want is not to deny someone else’s love.
What we want is to allow ourselves to pursue what we know is within our reach.
What we want is to allow that envy to show us exactly what we want, and then to dissolve the limiting beliefs that are preventing us from having it.
When we envy someone, we are actually getting a lesson in our own desires.