Envy is a Helpful Guide
I believe our feelings can be helpful messengers that alert us to the things we value or need in our lives.
Envy can alert us to what we want for ourselves.
For example, I often feel envious of people who live in the forest.
I yearn for the peace, tranquility, and ability to roam freely in nature and be immersed in it regularly.
Envy can become deleterious when we feel what we envy is out of our reach. It can lead us to resent our present.
A forest is not entirely out of reach for me. I can take a 45 minute drive in the forest. I could also choose to relocate.
However, my desire for the forest is not currently worth giving up what I do have (proximity to family, a sunny climate, a thriving private practice, new friends here, and familiarity with a city).
And yet, envy can still be helpful. We can look for ways to bring elements of the thing we envy into our lives.
I can be more intentional about making time to get into the forest. I can also look at how to bring more elements of nature into my daily life, such as plants and more time to observe the flora around me.
My therapy clients often share envy about romantic relationships, careers that provide both meaning and significant income, and individuals who have time for leisure.
I think many people harbor similar envy for such things.
These particular things are not easily obtained.
Individuals cannot swiftly find an ideal romantic relationship or immediately turn their existing relationship into what they fully want.
However, envy can still alert us that a change is needed. For example, an individual could choose to put more intentional effort toward dating or decide to start talking with their partner about changes they would like.
We can also dig deeper by examining what we imagine that envious thing would bring us. For example, if a client is envious of the money someone has, we explore what the client imagines that the money would provide them. I often here answers like a feeling of security, more free time, a decrease in stress, ability to take more vacations, more opportunities to be generous, etc.
We then creatively brainstorm how the client can bring those things into their life now. We look for ways they can decrease stress, feel more secure, take more vacations, and such on the budget they currently have. We can do this while developing long-term strategies to make more money.
Sometimes, people wish they could just shut down the feeling of envy. They consider it a “sin” or a feeling they shouldn’t be having. They wish they could just appreciate what they have and banish the envy.
I don’t think our body gives us feelings without a reason. We can let those feelings lead us on a deeper exploration of ourselves. By examining why something is appealing, we can uncover what is meaningful to us and how we can live a more enjoyable life.
Thank you for reading. I provide therapy for individuals with overwhelming emotions and thoughts. If you'd like to become a client, you can do so here.