Why Envy May Actually Make You a Better Person
If honesty is the best policy, then why do we seem to often lie to ourselves? What self-protective mechanism is at work there?
Taking an honest look at yourself, when it comes to envy, can be such an opportunity for growth.
This requires being able to get out of your own way.
And by envy, I mean that “green-eyed monster” that gives you a subconscious physiologic response such as: the feeling of butterflies, nausea, tingling skin or perhaps increased breath when you see, read or hear about another person’s accomplishments. This is actually an excellent way to gauge what exactly it is you covet in that person.
The thing you envy is the very thing need to start going after.
Happiness author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin recently did an episode about envy that really struck a chord with me. In it she talks about when we envy others, often we don’t even know it. In that particular episode, she asks the audience, “Whom do you envy and why?” She went on to give an example in her own life. Her own envy led to an epiphany for her. One that completely changed her life.
She had graduated from law school and one day was reading an alumni newsletter to see what others were up to. In that newsletter, she noted that one of her fellow grads went on to be a writer. She immediately felt a sick feeling. She wasn’t sure why. Shortly after, she understood that the sensible life plan of going to law school was not meant to be her true path. Law-school had just been the path of least resistance.
Once she was able to embrace the fear, she not only lived her truth, but did so as a New York Times best-selling author.
In the book The War of Art, the author Steven Pressfield says this, “If you find yourself criticizing other people, you’re probably doing it out of resistance. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if WE have not lived our own.”
Ok. So…How about it? Whom do you envy and why? Can you be vulnerable enough to do something about it?
On my own long and winding passionate journey for changing my brain, and understanding health, diabetes and obesity to help my patients and clients, I had my own epiphany. I was meditating; reflecting on the multitude of terribly ill patients I had seen and had my heart broken over. Heartbroken over the fact that our current medical models and guidelines have literally placed the patient in the barrel and gave em’ a good shove to head right over that waterfall. The system has failed millions and millions of patients. I lamented over it often without knowing how I could start to help get that pendulum swinging the other way.
Back to the “light-bulb” moment. I realized that I need to be an advocate. I needed to get out there to as many ill patients and struggling health coaching clients and yell, “Jump out! Detour! Get off the sinking ship!! They are lying to you!!!”
I know with my whole being, that this is my calling! I can’t seem to contain the sense of urgency and passion I have on the quest for helping reverse disease.
Ok, swell. I figured out my passion. Now what? I know the-hell-outta some nutrition, health, and biology and neuroscience. How do I translate that passion and knowledge into not only helping the sick folks who are being led by the man wearing the horns and carrying the pitchfork, but how to navigate this scary, unfamiliar territory of <insert dramatic music here> The Worldwide Web….Gulp…umm…breathe…You got this….
Now of course there are numerous folks in this field that I have mad-respect for, but she is one of the first people who came to my mind when Gretchen asked the question, “Whom do you envy and why?” on her podcast.
Cassie is this adorable, intelligent, driven, passionate Registered Dietitian whom I discovered through another professional that I respect (Jimmy Moore). I had never met her but I had heard her on a few podcasts and seen her beautifully done website. I envied her. I wanted something like that.
Today, I am certainly on my way to achieving those goals. I am also very happy to say that I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Cassie a few weeks ago on the Low-carb Cruise. I now call her my friend!
When I saw her for the first time, I made a beeline straight for her (despite being nervous about doing so) and I introduced myself. I told her exactly how I felt about her. I did not beat around the bush. I walked straight through the curtain of fear and self-doubt. And guess what? She was a lovely, open person.
Now….Back to YOU!
Do you still have that microscope you got from Toys-r-Us when you were a kid? You know, the one your parents got you because they were certain you were the smartest, most gifted child ever and would certainly cure cancer, etc. one day?…No? Ok… darn. Well, let’s pull the proverbial one out then!
Whom do you envy? Why?
So, this is where you can take a microscope out and put it on the spot where you need to see exact thing about them that is missing in you.
This is where true self-reflection come into play. It’s not too late. I am (cough) 46 and have never been surer of anything.
What qualities do they possess? How did they get there? What was their first step?
If you are envious of them, befriend them. Tell them you specifically what you admire about them. Perhaps they will mentor you or give you advice. Who knows, you may even become friends.
Eventually, you will figure out that your envy was just admiration cloaked in fear!
Be brave! On the other side of fear is freedom!
Good Luck and Good Growing!