Coffee Shop Confessional / Love / Philosophy / Real Life / relationships / Woman / Writing

Is that Envy I see?

evil eyeI 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 rootedmodern-evil-eye-charms- 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

33 thoughts on “Is that Envy I see?

  1. I love this post and it really speaks to me. I relate because I avoided the use of jealous and substituted envious, mistakenly trying to demonstrate the emphasis of appreciation for someone’s attributes and trying to verbally express that I would like to cultivate those traits in myself rather than was lustful after what they had. An attempt at honoring and respecting. I like this post as I realize that both words are inadequate for this; as well as I find it interesting that there is not an easily accessible word for what I want to show/demonstrate/convey.

    Also, I can relate to your friend; I do not look upon myself as someone who stands out, however I can attract and come across people who feel I do (usually for my perceived assertiveness/independence). It is this odd interplay between using me as inspiration and at the same time tearing me down because of it. So, I greatly appreciate the articulation about the desire to destroy.

    Keep inquiring, I would love to learn more myself!

    • Thank you for your honest and extremely insightful words. There is so much of what you wrote that I can completely relate to and I think you are right – Envy is so seeped in feeling/emotion that it is hard to find the right words to define it. But you used the word ‘perception’ and I think this is key. It is how other percieve us and not necessarily how we perceive ourselves, and so the destruction of something that you’re not sure you have is really confusing. Thus the ‘interplay’ as you perfectly describe does become destructive for all involved.
      Thank you for your unique insight and wisdom. It’s certainly given me a lot to think about!

  2. I had never realized that there might be a difference in the meaning of the two words, envy and jealousy. Sure enough, Wikipedia agrees with you. Just becoming aware of the nature of envy is the learning for me here.

    Whether for jealousy or envy, I did act even spacier than I am as a young person, so that others would not dislike me for my intelligence. But the bigger alteration was that I turned off much of my intuition of negativity in others — judge not, that ye be not judged. I misinterpreted the teaching that all are equal in the eyes of God as meaning that we must all be viewed with blinders as being the same ethically. While this naivete left me vulnerable when I didn’t recognize those who meant me ill, it also served to protect me, because I gave them no power.

    Interesting food for thought.

    • One of the most valuables things I have learnt while I am at the start of my journey with Envy is the difference between jeolousy and envy. It’s funny how empowering language and our understanding of it can be! I love your point about not judging and I think it takes a lot of strength and self awareness to do that. It’s a valuable lesson and I thank you most sincerely for sharing it. Perhaps vulnerability and strength come together?

      Thank you for your wise and inspiring words.

      • I kept thinking about this, and wondered: Two recipients of envy stated that they do not think that they are different or better than others. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that they ARE different, more skilled or attractive than average in some way. I wonder how it would change the gifted person’s external world to internally acknowledge her gifts (not with a value judgement, just as reality)? It is, in a sense, deceit not to do so… Enjoyable thinking, the thanks are due to you!

      • You make such an important point and I think you really might have hit upon something here. Perhaps we are just different, more skilled or attractive and the question may be why the so called ‘envied’ has such trouble accpeting this. Thank you for the thought process you have started!

  3. Your post makes me curious about envy in this context: as human beings, we subconsciously keep recreating the same experiences for ourselves out of belief patterns about who we are and what we deserve. The easiest example is when we date the same type of person or keep having the same type of relationships. So if we are continually experiencing envy from others, is there a deeper belief that we don’t deserve what we have? A belief that it isn’t fair for us to have it any better than anyone else? I have found it immensely helpful in life to look at what internal pattern I might be in that is assisting in the creation of my external world. Thank you for your post.

    • Yes, I think you make a very important point. I spoke to a good friend of mine who is psychotherapist and she agrees with you. She thinks we need to also examine what we project out and why we keep falling into the same patterns. She agreed that we need to look at our inner patterns and so the question you raise about not deserving is certainly one that becomes extremely significant. I do hope to explore this more in the future but I feel like I’m at the start of my understanding with Envy. Thank you for your truely wise words! They’ve given me a lot of food for thought. And if ever you’d like to write a guest post on this I’d love to share it!

  4. Awesome post. I was hoping that I no longer cared what other people thought of me but if that is so, why do I still put myself down to try to fit in? It’s like this big game that my group plays. Do I think I am superior, or do I just sense that they don’t want to see me thrive? Thanks for the awareness so I can now be a wiitness to my interactions.

    • I think that’s what happens when we become the ‘envied’ we begin to put ourselves down and think we’re behaving superior. If you’re putting yourself down then you certainly don’t think you’re superior. I understand this because I do the same. I love the idea of being a ‘witness’ to your interactions – I hope this objectvity brings you strength and I’m going to try and do more of the same. Thank you.

  5. Society has an uncalled competition , no one announces yet its on, people compare and when they find another person having a certain quality, that is missing in them this leads to envy..

  6. I can’t protect other people from their own envy — but I can protect myself from mine. Simply: I don’t envy.
    I might say in a blog post that I do but that’s just for effect. If someone else has something I desire, want, or yearn for — that’s his good luck and I’m happy for him. If luck befalls someone who just doesn’t deserve a bit of it, I ponder the vicissitudes of fate and wish that it had befallen me … but that’s not the same as envy, I wouldn’t take it away from him.
    The Spouse and I play Yahtzee every lunchtime—she’s currently 2,600 points ahead of me and some 27 games and 20 yahtzees. Quite simply, she’s luckier than me (which is why we play Yahtzee and not Scrabble; in theory ‘luck’ should even out and give us both a chance in Yahtzee, in Scrabble she doesn’t stand a chance) … but I don’t ‘envy’ her her luck. We enjoy our games. And maybe one day I too will throw lots of sixes …
    I believe in Justice.
    And envy is entirely human but we don’t have to allow ourselves to be its victims.

    • Argus, your unique and very real way of looking at things is always very much appreciated! I really love the way you linked up justice, luck and envy.And I think you’re right – perhaps we can only start with ourselves and control our own feelings of envy…
      I’ve never played yahtzees – I’m going to look for it today. I have a lovely image of you and oyour partner playing it at lunch times 🙂
      Thank you for your words.

  7. Superb post. Envy no matter how you sliced ie, its empty pride to be and posses what its unreachable .Thank you for the visit and your like on my post ( Vows…) warm regards.jalal

  8. Wow, such a deep post. I am very glad i found you through the Liebster because you evake some deep thoughts. I haven’t really noticed people projecting envy before. Maybe so and i just did not receive it as such. I am going to take some time to think about how this may be. On the surface I guess i would say envy is more the other person’s issue to deal with. I can only be me no matter how that irks another. The key is to be the best me I know how and hope that is enough.

    • Joe, I think what you say is so important. Funnily enough, I was talking to my cousin about this yesterday. If you worry too much about envy I think it can stifle who you are and so you do have to be brave enough to ‘be me’. I agree that the key is to be the best me possible..thank you for sharing your insight.

  9. Pingback: Envy is WatchingFunPhotoLolz

  10. I can relate this to this on a lot of levels right now. What a powerful insight your friend had–about the knee-jerk tendency to denigrate oneself for that which is envied. How harmful to the one envied! It’s a different take on how the observer will necessarily change the behavior of that observed–and bears huge contemplation. I think I want to stop the self-destruction, too! (and feel obligated to note, I do not think I am all that & bag of chips–it’s just I really know where I want to go in my life all of a sudden, and have tremendous drive to devote to that, and I think that’s what all this has been about for me in my personal & professional life.)

    • It’s huge to come to that conclusion that you want to stop that self destruction caused by Envy. It’s the start of self discovery and empowerment, I think. I’m like you, if I talk about envy I feel the need to say that I’m not that special but perhaps you are and I hope that you’re on the path to embracing that. I wish you all the Strength and Love in the world with it.

  11. Thank you so much for keeping in touch and liking my new post (earthly glorification).l appreciate your friendship.Warm regard.jalal

  12. Interesting post.

    I write for a living and boy, if you want to see/hear envy, come on down! We all, (sad but true) read the best-seller lists, gnashing our teeth in dismay at the crap that ends up selling millions and we can only dream of it happening to us. Do I desperately long for that? No, but the cash would be nice. The challenge of NOT being envious in creative fields especially is that fate seems mighty fickle — many of us work insanely hard for decades but never achieve the huge commercial success that literally rewards some for it.

    I’ve also been the object of envy for my success so far. I get it, but I also know how much scrapping and hustling it has taken me to do it. Some is luck, some talent, some timing. That’s the only way to defuse envy.

    • Firstly, I need to congratulate you on your success as a writer because I can imagine that it’s a very tough world. I love your writing and your success is very well deserved. But the point about being envied is so important – it’s very easy to envy the success but as you describe it( ‘scraping, hustling…some luck, some talent, some timing’) there’s a lot of work that’s gone into achieving it and that’s not what the envier can always see. I read somewhere that it’s described as being ‘blind sighted’…
      Thank you for your very valuable comments.

  13. all these comments plus the post are great…its a betrayal of the truth of our real identity and the compassion inyour post reveals how your friend healed herself and thus opened up that same door of healing for all of us to willingly walk through. in a strange way, the envy became a gift…as is your blog and this post…thank you…to the haters as they invite us all to notice it within ourselves and with compassion, soothe her…thank you

    • Thankyou for your generous and wise comments. You are right – the Envy did become a gift and so you make me think tthat perhaps we can transform negativity into a gift and thus not allow others to harm us. Thank you for opening up these thoughts for me…

      • Thank you for writing this in the first place, it just helped us join up some dots. In fact, it’s really helped us to explore that process of self harm in a compassionate way for all involved. We are all touched and we are all one. There is no separation.Your sharing was breathtaking. Thank you, It made such a big difference to us here. A shift happened through your inspiring writing that invited us to grow blosoom and flower as we should. Thank you once again.

      • I am deeply humbled by your response. Thank you so much.
        You are right, we are all connected and it is through this understanding that we can be kinder to others and ourselves.

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