How to Get Over Envy & Be Released
Updated: Jul 22, 2019
This is the age of envy. We are living in an age where people are consuming other people’s lives in epic proportions. Social media, in just 15 years, has alerted us to the ins and outs of our friends, families and stranger’s lives. Aspirations have been blown out of proportion with this insight into how others live. Whether it is coveting our friend’s house, car, holidays, body shape or health; social media has created the need for more, more, more.
When I was a child it was only the rich and famous, via Hello magazine or the papers, whose lifestyles were closely tracked. But they were mostly out of reach, and so we gamely went on with our lives, getting qualifications, jobs and a lifestyle to match. I don’t remember much envying going on. Now, it is a phrase that I hear regularly coming from my client’s lips during therapy. They envy their friends, are jealous of their achievements and want more of what their friends are having. They feel their lives pale in comparison. Envy is making them frustrated and depressed. Two very toxic emotions that can contribute, cumulatively, to inflammation and disease.
When you have Cancer another source of envy is comparing yourself to other seemingly healthy people. The words, ‘it’s just not fair why do I have Cancer? Look at all those smokers and drinkers! Why don’t have anything wrong with them?’ often flash through the mind. I bet you have done that comparison at least once since your diagnosis.
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. We can’t help it. But when your envy has turned into frustration at your own life and is making you depressed you must call time on envying others, for your own health and sanity.
Tom was a mid-ranking executive for a large corporate company. He was forty-five years old and married with two kids. He thought he was doing fine; he was ticking all the boxes on life’s journey. Then he got a Cancer diagnosis that threw a big curve ball into his life.
He had to take leave from work and the company supported him in that decision. But after a few months, and deep into chemotherapy, he learnt of the resignation of his boss. This was the person, who in his mind, he was to succeed. Tom then learnt the company had decided to do a search externally for a replacement. They eventually hired an outsider to replace his old boss.
Tom was fuming, just at a time when he needed all his strength to get through the rigours of chemo. When Tom eventually returned to work, he discovered the new person had rejigged the team and some of Tom’s more senior duties had been delegated throughout the team. Every meeting Tom had with his new boss was a hardship for him. He was so jealous and frustrated at the way things had turned out he started to get run down from all the stress. He was so envious, he had juvenile thoughts of scratching his boss’ new company car, the car he thought should have been his.
Then he contracted a nasty chest infection, which turned into pneumonia and was hospitalised, because he nearly died.
At first, when he came to see me, he couldn’t understand how his immune system had got so low, as he had ‘been looking after himself’ a lot more after the cancer. He was eating relatively healthy foods, had stopped drinking and was jogging three times a week. He didn’t understand the connection between toxic thoughts like jealousy and envy, and the immune system. I pointed him in the direction of research, which astonished him.
He was so struck by the link between thoughts and the immune system that he threw himself into challenging every toxic belief he had.
After three months Tom was a changed man. No longer full of envy and jealousy. But jovial and happy. His working relationships improved; and his job became more satisfying. In fact, his company promoted him into another division and a more senior role they had in mind for him all the time. They could have made a big difference, if they had only told him this before hiring the other person to replace his old boss, but that’s company politics for you.
If you find yourself envying others, here is an action plan that will change that:
1. List all the things you are envious of.
2. Assess why you are envious. How would life improve if you had those things you haven’t got?
3. Assess if you are only coveting something to make other people jealous, or do you truly want this for yourself?
4. Strike off the list anything that you covet in order to make other jealous. They are a sign of low self-esteem, which you can work on separately.
5. How achievable are the things on the list that you truly want just for yourself?
6. If they are highly unachievable strike them off the list.
7. If they are achievable write out an action step plan of how you are going to achieve it and put the plan into action.
It’s a little like the person who says, ‘One day I’m going to be a millionaire’ but isn’t doing anything about it, except buying lottery tickets and we all know the stats on winning the lottery!
If you put one foot in front of the other and have a sensible plan to achieve whatever you covet soon you won’t be envying but being.
Life won’t give you anything for free unfortunately. We can only make what we want to make happen. With Cancer, we can choose to sit back and do nothing but the standard western protocols, or we can enrich and support the protocols by helping ourselves in other collaborative ways. One of these is taking care of toxic negative thoughts.
If you are struggling with envy, or other toxic negative thoughts, CBT can help you. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a medically verified form of therapy. It uses powerful techniques and tools to remove toxic negative thoughts from your mind. And helps change sabotaging behaviours and replaces them with positive behaviours instead, for lasting change. For more information, go to www.cbtforcancer.com
For more reading on negative emotions and the immune system this is a good recent article: