Are you a well-wisher? It’s remarkable how people can hold back from praising others, from acknowledging other people’s successes or from wishing people well. Envy can eat into us. Some people let it eat away at their happiness. It can blind. It can poison. It can destroy friendships and prevent new friendships from blossoming.
Maybe it’s the McMahons who are annoying you. They won the Cathedral draw again. Imagine it! €3,000 going into the same home again this year. It’s not fair! It’s a disgrace! You won’t be congratulating them anyway. Everything always goes perfectly for the McMahons! All their children have the permanent jobs! The best exam results. The medal winners in every competition. Does anything ever go wrong for the McMahons? The McMahon’s wouldn’t know a problem if it hit them!! Wouldn’t it just be great if you could commiserate with them for a change?
And Tony McGovern. He has changed his car again. He seems to change it every 18 months! A 2.7 turbo diesel engine. On these roads!! Ridiculous. He pulled up beside you on the lane and opened the window to say hello. Leather seats. The whole works. You pretended that you didn’t notice the new car!
Or your colleague Kathleen invites you to her house for tea. You’re thrilled….until your friend informs you that she’s inviting everyone to her house to admire her €20,000 kitchen. Granite. Hardwood. Designer presses. Will you bother going at all now?
When you are envious of someone you usually do not vocalise it. It burns you from inside. The only time you might let envy have its voice is when you are in the company of someone equally as envious of the same person. Then you can start belittling and denigrating the innocent party. What is at issue is that you desire what the privileged person possesses because you feel inferior.
The circumstances in which you might become envious usually involve some form of social comparison. It’s as if you subconsciously measure your self-worth by using other people as a barometer. Your self-evaluation is based on what you do not possess instead of a deeper awareness of all the things that you are blessed with. Envy grips you when you feel that you fall short in comparison to others. The thoughts and feelings of envy can lead you to develop animosity towards a person and anguish from within yourself.
I was talking to Julia this week. She no longer calls to her friend because the extravagant extension that she has built has dwarfed her own home. Her friend married a very wealthy man. Julia feels that she has less in common with her now. She even feels intimidated when her friend visits her. “I feel she is looking at all my cheap furniture!’ she said.
Envy has to do with feeling unhappy about the success of someone else, or about what they have. At the heart of envy is a feeling of inferiority about yourself and your life. It’s a toxic emotion. We should all work against it.
One way to protect yourself from envy is to count your blessings more. Examine your life and make a list of all the precious gifts you possess. Start with the people that colour your days. Make an effort to praise and encourage others in their successes. There will always be people who are more successful, wealthier, more intelligent and luckier than you. Wish them well.
Congratulate Mrs. McMahon on winning the cathedral draw! May she and her family reap even greater happiness from the prize this year! And let Tony McGovern know that you love his car. Wish him happiness and safety on the road. And be delighted to get an invite to Kathleen’s house. If she has only invited you to admire her kitchen allow yourself to be amused with the innocence of it all. And if it’s a lovely kitchen let her know. Indeed, you might have a great night. Rumour has it that she makes great scones!
© Shane Martin
(c) Shane Martin
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