According to Webster`s dictionary, ” Envy: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.”
It is a noun and a verb. It is one of the 7 greatest sins of the world. It is interesting that it is considered a SIN as if the person who is envious of others or a close friend or relative actually chose to feel this way. Is it really a choice? Does one actually seek feeling miserable with envy, bitterness towards others who appear to have what this person wants?
I suppose it may be half and half. Some may realize they are envious and this resentful feeling is eating at them at some point in time. But what they do once they realize this is eating at them is probably the part that could be given up at their discretion; it is a choice to explore alternative ways of approaching a situation.
Let’s say a guy envies his neighbour for having a super nice sports car and it starts to eat up at him. He can’t joke around with him anymore when they are washing and waxing their cars on Saturdays. He can’t seem to be able to find pleasure in their conversations anymore. That darn ENVY gets in the way. And once he realizes it is his resentment he could adjust his behaviour. He could humbly admit it was being a bit childish. Or, he could feed into that dark, cruel attitude by justifying his envy. He could try to convince himself that he has had to work harder than most to get by. He could bitterly whine that he never gets good luck in life. He could convince himself that he is a better person as he is not as materialistic as his neighbour who spent over $25,000 for his car.
Or it could a woman who envies a close friend because she seems to be able to eat anything she wants without gaining any weight. Maybe she envies her looks, her ease in attracting lots of people, that she owns a house or nicer car…the list goes on. How can you resent someone for having a body and image she was born with? How can you resent someone who chooses to invest lots of money into a house and or a car? So if you are to envy people for material things, do you envy their big monthly payments too?
Ah, but people sure do.like to envy others without thinking further than their nose! I used to be fortunate in my younger years up until menopause that is, in having a metabolism that worked overtime when I was stressed, upset and unhappy especially. It always struck me as odd when people would make comments like, “Oh you are so lucky not to worry about your weight”. Okay, but did they ever think that maybe I may have had other problems they sure would not envy.
Imagine a person who is struggling to keep her weight down and she looks at a skinny person scornfully? But what IF that skinny person is going through Chimo Therapy? What if she eats one meal a day to be able to feed her family? Who really knows? Imagine a person buys a new car, a new coat, get an awesome new hairdo…why would anyone resent that? Why can’t one simply think, “Wow that is so cool” or “Wow she sure looks great!” or “That is so cool!”
I noticed that many many years ago at one of my first jobs in my 20’s, I remember giving compliments to colleagues about their outfits, hairdo or the great work they were doing. And it struck me as puzzling when they would look at me with a suspicious look rather than smile and say, “Thanks”. Not everyone, mind you, reacted this way but still. It was not until many years later that I realized that people with low self-esteem and self-worth often can NOT accept compliments, will envy others good fortune and may choose to be bitter rather than try and change this terribly painful feeling….envy.
I remember a friend of mine who used to envy but in the guise of saying she was “happy for them” and yet when she had a chance to get her dagger out to criticize other things about her friends including me, she did. I think this is probably the most dangerous type of envious person. She envied others who had nice relationships and those who had children. She did NOT realize she was resentful and bitter and yet she pushed people away with her biting and cruel comments.
We have all felt this ENVY from time to time. We envy the attention a sibling gets from a parent, we envy the attention a teacher gives a student, we may even envy a classmate who has that dress your mom could not afford to get you…BUT we eventually get over it and grow up! Right?
I remember a colleague having an hysterical attack and rushing in tears to our manager’s office because she did not win a competition for a particular project; Did she ever calm down? Sort of. Did she ever congratulate her colleague for winning the competition? Never. How sad people who are resentful and embittered by what other people have.
Rather than allow that feeling to eat at you, one could try to find ways to not feel this anymore. One may feel disappointed for not getting that job several colleagues were all competing for…but one does get over it eventually.
So what drives people to hang on for dear life on that debilitating feeling? Besides the lack of self-esteem…it can also be part of the personality of a person. A person who has a chip on his shoulder and feels that any bad luck in life is the fault of society…all of it!! Or it could also be someone who is going through a difficult transition in life and cannot quite accept it…maybe a person is getting older and resists this. Maybe the person dreamed of continuing further in education but thought so little of himself and did not think he would succeed. And so he grows older with thoughts congestion his mind, “I could have” “I wish I would have” “If only I …” or “My ship just did not come in”. How toxic is that!!??
Think about it…There are people who envy their neighbour (metaphorically). They see that the grass seems greener. But has this person ever actually walked out on that neighbour’s grass to smell the heaps of fertilizer he had to put on it? Has he ever seen his neighbour up at 5am every morning pulling out the weeds? Has he actually ever noticed all the effort his neighbour put into it?