Updated: May 20, 2020
I decided to change approach to my envy and jealousy and I became a better man.
Months ago, my friend shared his new business successes with me. Even though he was very excited, I found it difficult to share his excitement.
As he talked, I could feel the fake smile coming up on my face and a subtle resistance grew in my body as a reaction to his message.
I was not with him fully anymore. I was in my head. I realized I was envious.
“That’s supposed to be me, dammit!”
I could hear a voice inside of my head yelling. I kept half-listening until he finished and then I said I’m happy for him.
You’re not happy-for-him at all!
But I just wanted to be nice to him! My frustration and shame started to get overwhelming and I could feel how I’m slowly moving towards apathy.
I felt frustrated. I was completely out of integrity.
The Nice Guy within me took over. No matter how miserable on the inside, he always did his best to appear happy on the outside.
But I also knew, that during the last 15 years, this behavior got me nowhere. I decided to take my integrity back and share my honest truth.
Honesty leads to vulnerability and therefore requires courage
I knew what needed to be done.
“Dude, there is something I want to share with you.”
And I told him.
“This is extremely uncomfortable to share, but it’s the truth and I respect you so I’ll share it with you. I want you to know it’s not personal, it’s all my stuff. As you talked about your success, I realized I envy you.
I feel pride about my current skills and, as uncomfortable as it is to admit, on some level I believe that I’m better than you.
Because of that I feel a deep frustration because despite being better, I am not having better results than you do.
I also feel some anger at you or maybe even the world because it feels unfair and it feels as if you are taking something away from me.
Right now now I feel humiliated for admitting and saying all this out loud.”
After I finished, there was a long pause.
Man, I felt terrible!
I would dig myself a hole right there and jump straight in it to disappear!
“Thanks for sharing and stepping into vulnerability, brother. Just allow yourself to feel whatever comes up, it’s okay,”
He understood that my envy about him has nothing to do with him — it was all my own insecurities, projected at him.
He also knew that it was not my choice to feel all that.
That’s why he accepted me fully and created a safe space for me to feel it all.
With that, I could release the burden of keeping it just for myself and being ashamed of it.
After a while, I felt relieved, released, and rock-like determined.
It was not the first time it happened. I knew it was a repeated pattern. But that day was the first time I shared it.
I decided to change something.
Envy is a feeling of low self-worth because of someone else’s success
The Law of Polarity states, that everything in the world has its opposite, which is identical in nature but different in degree.
Pride and envy are the same things on the two sides of the same polarity — self-worth. It’s the same as hot and cold are both temperatures, each on the other side of the polarity.
I was prideful. My feelings of being superior to him made me feel better about myself. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be envious.
And I only realized this fully thanks to sharing it out loud with him. Damn.
I was running back and forth between feeling better and worse than others. As a result, this “comparing autopilot” determined how much I can feel good about myself based on who was around me at the moment.
Prideful superiority and envious inferiority were chasing each other in a vicious circle of my head.
It was incredibly frustrating to accept this and it’s painfully uncomfortable to share it publicly.
But I knew it’s a step towards healing.
Only compare yourself with the person you were yesterday
In the relative world that we live in, we cannot avoid comparing because it helps us determine the relative value of everything that exists. My mind will never stop comparing my perceived value with someone because it is part of its nature.
Comparing myself with others makes no sense because what others do is beyond my control, and as a result, my self-worth fluctuates like a stock market.
To take control back, I needed to shift my “comparison autopilot” in my favor — to only compare with myself from a day ago.
And I already knew that it would work well!
Anytime I evaluated how I was doing based on my own standards, I was clear on my performance and growth, I appreciated more what I already had and I felt a push into doing better and becoming a better man.
The idea sounded great!
The next question was:
How will I make that automatic?
Breaking the envy pattern and upgrading my subconscious mind
The first step towards creating any change is acceptance of the current state. I did that. I allowed myself to feel the emotions around my envy in their full force.
I shared all the pride, frustration, anger, and shame with my friend and I experienced unconditional acceptance because he got neither offended nor laughed, but he stayed there and accepted what I was saying fully.
With that, he helped me feel acceptance myself.
The next step was upgrading my subconscious mind to weaken the self-comparison pattern until it disappears.
Subconscious patterns can be changed in 2 ways:
A high-intensity emotional event that happens one-time and changes the thinking immediately (e.g., near-death experience). These events are rare and usually happen spontaneously.
A repeated low-intensity event affects the brain and the subconscious mind. The adaptation feels like “getting used to it” (e.g. cultural adaptation after moving to a new country). These changes can be planned and created proactively.
Being an obsessive writer, I had a solution right there: a new daily journaling routine.
I started to write down the same statement every morning:
“Today, I will become a better man than I was yesterday!”
Then I imagined how I would go through the day until I could feel good about me outgrowing my current self and then went on with my day as usual.
The same day, before going to sleep, I wrote another journal entry with this question:
“Did I become a better man today than I was yesterday?”
I paused, went through the day mentally, and allowed my answer to come up.
I did it the exercise religiously every day for a few weeks and — God this thing works!
It feels so good that I keep doing it to this day!
I started to become more aware of even more subtle signs of envy. Anytime I notice it, I return and center myself almost immediately. I can listen better, give more and share more of the joy of others’ successes.
The daily commitment to becoming a better man triggers my inner motivation every morning.
Noticing the progress before sleep makes me go to bed feeling a bit more grateful every night.
Even though it’s difficult to measure self-worth, I can tell, that I feel more centered and grounded. My new center of self-worth shifted from one of comparing myself with others to one of becoming a better man every day.
Honesty makes you vulnerable. Be honest anyway.
I know that I will still feel envy at times. It would be arrogant to claim that I “fixed it“ forever. Now I’m just much better equipped to handle it in the future.
But for me, this experience goes far beyond envy.
In the beginning, I lied because I wanted to be nice. Saying “I’m happy” when the truth was “I envy” — its exact opposite — is lying. Even if I’m the only one who knows it.
I chose to claim my integrity through honest sharing of my truth. It was scary as hell. But one thing was even scarier: knowing I’m a liar.
Deciding to share my truth made me feel terrible, but at least I kept my face.
The rest came as a side-effect: emotional healing, a lesson on envy, and a personality change. As Fred Rogers said it:
Honesty is often very hard. The truth is often painful. But the freedom it can bring is worth trying.
And to me — it was worth it.
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