By Tracy Clifford
Envy. Jealousy. You know that feeling. You want what someone else has. You feel like you’re missing out. If you’re not careful, it can start to eat away at you. It can change the way you interact with the world around you. And sadly, it can close you off to finding true and lasting love.
Admit it. You’ve felt it before. I know I have. You see a beautiful, happy, couple walking down the street holding hands. They look content, relaxed, and in love. You ask yourself: Why can’t I have that? You tell yourself all sorts of things to make yourself feel better. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. Their relationship probably isn’t all that great. You remind yourself that you are only seeing a small snippet of their life. You think about all the single and fabulous people you know. You tell yourself that your next great love is around the corner. You think about the people who have it worse than you do. But none of it works. You still want love. You still envy all the happy couples, because you’re not part of a happy couple, and you want to be.
Instead of telling you to resist these feelings, I propose that you let yourself feel the envy. Let it wash over you. Let yourself sit with it for a while, even if it’s uncomfortable and ugly. Envy is a natural human emotion. Most people try to deny envy. Or they’re told that envy is negative or shameful, so they have a hard time owning up to it. Most people react to envy with fear and control. You attempt to control people around you, or make decisions based out of fear rather than strength.
This blog is not about how to help you not feel envious. You will feel envy. You are a human being. And the last thing you should try to do is control how you feel. The wonderful thing about emotions is that they are transitory. Feelings are energy. They pass through you. It is far more productive to let yourself feel the feeling than try to resist it. With time the emotion will pass. Journaling, talking to a trusted friend, or exercising can help you deal with this energy.
I believe that at the root of most envy is grief. If you observe a happy couple, you might think about the past when you were part of a happy couple. There is a still a well of loss within you that demands to be felt. Or perhaps you’ve never known true love, and you’re angry and hurt when you know that others have experienced it and you haven’t. All I can say is let yourself feel it. Part of the beauty of being alive is feeling a wide range of emotions — even the sad ones.
When you’ve passed through the most poignant and heartbreaking parts of those feelings, remind yourself of this: Every human being on this planet is in a state of transition at this very moment. Some are in the throes of passion and love. Others might be coupled up, but feel numb. Still others are experiencing the kind of heartbreak that feels like it pierces the heart. We are all moving through life at various stages of love. There are countless people who feel similarly to the way you do at this very moment.
So while it may feel like all the world is in love, know that they’re not. In my opinion, one of the most essential human emotions is hope. If you don’t have faith in other human beings or in the future, then what do you have? Once you let envy and jealousy pass through you, you can start to feel truly open again. Open to the idea that we are all on the same journey – striving for connection, meaning, and love. Just like passing seasons, it all comes at different times.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on love and envy. Please leave a comment or ask me a question!