Thursday, April 3, 2008

You've Got it, I Want it - Taming my Envious Ways

Now that I’m in my forties, I think I’ve got myself pretty together. I like who I am; I like my life. But sometimes there’s this tight little knot in my gut that tells me that you’ve figured it out far better than I have.

Sometimes you’re a stranger and other times you’re my best friend. I see you at the grocery store and you stand out with your perfectly styled hair, diamond earrings and designer coat. I call you up for a chat and you’re baking tarts and practicing French with your six year old. I glance over at you in the locker room and see that your stomach is as taut as a trampoline. We’re giggling over drinks when you share a bedroom secret about your sexy husband. You just bought a summer home in Michigan. You’ve been asked to speak at a conference in Vegas.

Good for you, girlfriend, I’m sure you’ve earned it. But why does your success feel so bad for me? Why do I end up feeling frumpy, stupid, lazy, and unsuccessful? And why am I so mad at you?

It’s envy.

According to The Psychological Bulletin (2007), envy is best defined as a “state in which the desired advantage enjoyed by another person or group of people causes a person to feel a painful blend of inferiority, hostility, and resentment.” Oh, yeah. That’s me.

To try to deal with my envious feelings, I’ll make a list of all the things I have that the other woman doesn’t have. Melissa may have started her own business, but her house is a shambles. Eileen is as fit as an aerobics instructor, but she hasn’t read a book in over a year. Telling myself that myself that I’m better organized and more literate might ease the knot in my stomach a little bit. But not much.

Because I shouldn’t have to put another woman down to feel better about myself.

You’re not my competition because there is no game being played that either of us can win. Your success doesn’t take away from my ability to succeed. But, your accomplishments might just be a signal to me of what I really want.

So here’s what I’m going to do when that envious knot starts its twisting. I’m going to recognize that you’ve achieved something that matters to me and I’m going to stand back and admire you for it. I think it will make me feel a lot better about both of us.

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