I don’t know whether this relates to my personality or if its simply one of my stronger character flaws, but I am majorly prone to envy. Most often these feelings don’t arise from a particular thing. Meaning, I don’t get as envious over material possessions. Instead, I often find myself coveting someone else’s life circumstances. I want their relationships or their outlook on life; I want their general success or seemingly easy lifestyle. When those nasty little thoughts enter my brain about a stranger, it’s not a big deal. I write them off–tell myself I don’t even really know the person and forget about it. But envy toward a friend can be the silent killer. It steals joy, overshadows communication, and undermines any solid foundation.
Through trial and error I’ve found that just ignoring the envy or pretending it doesn’t exists is not a good solution to the problem. When I haven’t internally addressed the issue, those thoughts will wiggle their way back into my brain. And I wind up resenting my friend for something they didn’t deliberately do and don’t even know I’m focusing on. Moreover, sadly, I’m usually envious about something I should actually rejoice with them about. So here’s how I’ve come to recognize the rise of those sensations and fend them off.
step one: admit they’re there – being married makes E my confidant for a lot of these feelings. i can share my thoughts knowing they’re safe between the two of us. but, outside of a committed partner, i don’t recommend verbalizing the object of your envy. oftentimes it can complicate or muddy the waters to involve another friend. instead, write them out. process onto paper what’s running through your brain to help identify the challenge you’re facing.
step two: list the goods – my younger self would try to combat feelings of envy by saying all the things that person didn’t have. so I’d say, “well, sure, they have THIS but look at all the other things I get to have.” sounds petty, right? yep, it is. don’t feign contentment with negative thoughts. instead, lean into the object of your envy. practice delight by listing their positives. recognize how precious that person and their friendship are to your life.
step three: reflect + reconnect – I’ve offered this suggestion before but I’ll say it again: count your blessings. when envy rears its ugly green face there’s nothing that slaps it back better than contentment. finally, come face to face and reconnect. rather than losing yourself in this jumbled thought process, spend time in the company of your friend. be reminded of the bliss and comfort found in community.
Have you dealt with envy in a friendship before? If so, how?