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Escaping the Envy Trap: Pathways to Emotional Wellness

Looking on with envy and jealousy

Our primitive nature, what I have identified as our automatic brain (AB), causes us to have habits. And habits become our automatic, default, go-to response to situations. After all, if we were to design our own security system, wouldn’t we want it to be very sensitive, automatic, and predictable? Habits make us feel safe.

Well, reliability is great in a home or office security system. Still, an automatic and predictable response in the human brain can be harmful, as with many habits. One habit most of us have is the jealousy (and envy) habit. The jealousy/envy habit is like any other response that originates from the AB. It ultimately wears down your body with the constant electrochemical impulses that produce the “bad for you” hormones and chemicals. These emotions arise because your brain detects (or thinks it detects) danger from a potential rival.

Here’s how you can break the jealousy habit:

  1. Acknowledge the feeling, and be honest with yourself.

  2. Do not respond to the emotion by overly professing your happiness for the person or plotting to sabotage their new success.

  3. Don’t judge yourself as a bad person for feeling jealousy; it’s entirely normal.

  4. Repeat in your mind, “There is no danger, there is no threat; there is no danger, there is no threat.” Another’s success does not jeopardize you. Your focus on it only diverts attention from what is good in your life and your talents and successes.

  5. On a piece of paper, write down all the things that would change in your life if you were in the other person’s shoes. Once you have done that, read the list and understand that everything you wrote is pure conjecture—fantasy. No one can predict the future, so tear up the list and move on to the next step.

  6. Get rid of the pieces of that paper! Dump them in a fire, toss them on the floor, vacuum them up, or put them in the trash—whatever. In other words, Let It Go. Just Let It Go!

These steps will work very nicely to vanquish jealousy or envy, even when faced with rivals trying to one-up you with their successes.

We have no idea how much we are in control of our health and happiness. When one looks closer at some of the instincts that appear automatically and break them down, it becomes apparent that we can intervene against the automaticity of our brains and see the glory that resides in the power of our minds. Make the only person you are jealous of be yourself. Say to yourself, “If I were to see myself in a department store, or at work, or interacting with friends, I would be jealous of me.” Break the jealousy/envy habit and begin to make you the only person with whom you are jealous. You will have overcome an enormous obstacle to health and happiness and begin to live your everyday extraordinary.

© Dr. Charles F. Glassman, Coach MD

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