I met a friend the other day for coffee. We were talking and I noticed that there was something different about her energy. I wasn’t sure what it was but it was there – a change. She told me that she had learnt something about herself, what others project on her, and she was drawing strength from her new understanding. I’m a real champion of self-awareness and so I asked her what it was. She related that she had come to realise that she seemed to get caught up in the storm of other people’s Envy. She didn’t believe herself to be any more intelligent, beautiful or creative than anyone else, but it would happen to her quite often. For a long time she would feel guilty about this, blaming herself for the unhappiness and anger she incited in others, and to compensate would put herself down, going to lengths to convince others she was worthless, that there was nothing special about her. ‘So what’s changed?’ I asked. ‘I realised’ she said ‘that every time someone disliked me for being me, I tried to destroy that part of me. I was committing the act of self harm from within. Envy is their issue and I won’t take responsibility for it anymore’.
Envy. I left the coffee shop, my mind moving at 100 miles per hour. *How many of us begin to destroy ourselves because of what’s projected on us? Who else does this? I certainly take a lot of responsibility for the way other people feel and I know for the most part this isn’t always good. I didn’t know where to begin. And so to start somewhere, I explored the definition if it. Envy is when someone desires something you have, and seeks to destroy what you have so that you don’t have it. It’s Othello, embodied in Iago’s ‘green-eyed monster’. Envy is very different to jealousy which is more constructive and is the result or fear of losing someone or something that one is attached to. Well, that’s what I understand at present about it.
I found myself thinking about the lengths people will go to to protect themselves from Envy. My Turkish friend told me that it is so deeply rooted in his culture that symbols of the evil eye can be found everywhere and also to the point where no one will share anything in case it is taken from them. Envy had also led to a culture of Secrecy and Mistrust. I’ve also heard stories from aunts in Pakistan who say that their mothers would rotate three eggs/bread/chillies round their sons’ heads and have their daughters throw it in the streets to take the evil away from their beloved boys, while the daughters ran away from the eggs screaming, thinking the witches were collecting the eggs and chasing them. I guess that’s one way to deal with it…
It’s all there and my mind is reeling with it. I want to know more. I want to know how others have experienced it. I wrote to my friend, a distinguished writer who writes about human suffering, and asked him what someone does when they find themselves caught up in the destructive nature of envy, and he said ‘it’s how you deal with it now that counts’. Thus, it requires action in the present so the future is not destroyed. And I think about my friend who has relinquished her responsibility from it and in doing so has stopped self harming.
I feel like I’m on the edge of something here and I want to learn more.
*I’d love to hear your thoughts/ experiences of Envy