As women, we don’t like to reveal our confessions of envy to ANYONE, because if we were really being honest, we might come across as terrible, awful people. Luckily, I know I’m not a terrible and awful person. I am human. I have beautiful qualities and ugly, wart-covered qualities as well. And so do you. And so does everyone.
When I’m feeling icky inside about something, rather than try to forget about it, or pretend it’s not there, I actually feel better when I talk about. Or, in this case, I feel better when I write about it. This article may not paint me in the prettiest, most goddess-esque light, but I am sharing it with you anyway and trusting you to withhold as much judgement as possible.
WHAT ENVY FEELS LIKE
I just finished watching a cooking show on Food Network. Watching cooking shows is one of my favorite things to do, but I’m picky about who and what I watch. I have been wanting to like the female star of this specific Food Network show for a few years now, and I keep trying. However, this woman has always invoked my envy from the very beginning, even though it took me some time to realize this. Sometimes those green envy monsters kinda creep up on me. Whenever I watched her show I thought to myself, “I like her.” But my partner would point out on the reg that I always complained about her. He finally said to me, “If you hate her so much, why do you watch her?” I remember feeling surprised by this and my initial reaction was, “I don’t hate her, she’s awesome!” But he was right.
Things about her get under my skin. She kind of does a “baby talk” thing and it’s super annoying. I wish she would just talk like the grown woman that she is (insert green envy monster emoji).
Honestly, that’s the only part about her that annoys me. The rest of the things about her are amazing. She has the flattest stomach ever, even though she recently had a baby. She’s naturally gorgeous and youthful. Her food is fun and super original. She lives on a farm (one of my dreams) and her husband adores her. Her career is enormously successful (obviously, if she’s rocking the Food Network) and she gets paid for being creative and living her truth. She seems happy and fulfilled at all times.
The terrible sadness is that I was feeling super great about my life this morning and was in a fab mood. And after watching one of her episodes, I felt TERRIBLE about my life. And it’s like I was mad at her for making me feel that way.
UGLY GREEN MONSTERS
I get that it’s not her fault at all, duh. She’s done nothing to me directly, and I am a meaningless spec in her world. She’s just doing her thing and she never put a gun to my head and made me watch her show. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a show. A show and an image are meant to present a person in the most positive light. And the tricky thing about modern media now is that it comes across as “real” and “relatable” and “regular,” but it’s still a damn show. It’s still fake, to an extent.
Unfortunately, if I’m being really honest, I admit that I find myself comforted by the idea of her failure (insert triple fat slimy green envy monster emojis). This is a terrible, terrible thought, I know. But I have to remind myself it was just a passive thought that exited my mind as soon as it entered. And the only person I’m harming by having this thought is myself.
Still, not my finest moment.
COPING WITH MY UNCOMFORTABLE FEELINGS OF ENVY
The thought that no one could possibly have that perfect of a life, and that something must be wrong with her, gave me an inkling of comfort in that moment. Honestly, the seemingly perfect reality of her life was triggering to me, and so painful, that I wished something bad for her in my mind, in order to relieve myself of this pain, if only for just a moment. This is the dark side of insidious envy.
Wikipedia defines envy as “…an emotion which occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it.” I can’t possibly be the only one who feels this way if there’s a whole Wikipedia page about it, right?
Maybe I just have lots of growing to do in this area. You might enjoy my article, CULTIVATING OUR GODDESS QUALITIES IN 2021. In this article I discover, acknowledge, and share about my need for growth in the way I support women.
FLIPPING THE ENVY COIN
Then I thought about, what if someone wished that on me? What if I am that person to someone?
This actually made me feel a bit better, because although that would be really scary if someone had that thought about me, as long as they never acted on it, I do believe that they are allowed their thoughts. Their ugly thoughts won’t come to get me and ruin my life, just like my ugly thoughts won’t ruin another’s. Phew.
Still, it ain’t great to have these thoughts, and I am truly seeking a healing solution with regards to this issue of envy.
There are three women that I can think of right now that trigger me in this way, and bring out my ugly green envy monsters. The woman mentioned above, and two other non-famous women who kick ass. See, it’s confusing. I truly, genuinely, honestly think all of these women kick ass. But for whatever reason, I simultaneously want them to fail. And there are many women whom I think kick ass and whom I don’t want to fail. So there is something specific about these particular women, and it’s a trigger thing within me.
QUALITIES THESE WOMEN ALL HAVE IN COMMON THAT MAKE ME GREEN WITH ENVY
Every woman has a different idea of what her dream life looks like. And every woman gets envy-triggered by different things. It’s all quite personal, actually, and the key to healing from all of this, is to pinpoint those specific triggers, and then find a way to manage those triggers.
My triggers are as follows:
- A specific kind of beautiful (this is totally subjective and there are some women that I recognize as beautiful but they don’t trigger me)
- A specific kind of body (same as above)
- Happy marriage to an attractive and/or successful and adoring man
- Having children (I hope to have children someday, but I don’t have any yet, so this is deeply triggering)
- A charming and/or attractive personality
- Living on a farm (again, I’m not envious of all women who live on farms, but if I happen to be triggered by a woman, and she happens to live on a farm, it’s just that much worse)
- Career success and/or a positive public persona of any kind
Random image of a woman on a farm who I promise you I wish no harm to! I’ve never seen her in my life and I wish her very well. She looks pretty kick ass to me, and I hope she is a very happy and fulfilled woman. This woman does not trigger me. Well, maybe like for a second, but not really 🙂
DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND HOW IT LEADS TO INCREASED ENVY
Of course I’m not the first person to mention this, and it’s a known fact that social media and our media culture in general is very dangerous when it comes to bullying, competition, jealousy, envy, and the like.
“We look at the lives we have constructed online in which we only show the best of ourselves, and we feel a fear of missing out in relation to our own lives. We don’t measure up to the lives we tell others we are living, and we look at the self as though it were an other, and feel envious of it.”Sherry Turkle quoted in “The Age of Envy: How To Be Happy When Everyone Else’s Life Looks Perfect”
It’s hard to know who to blame when I feel triggered by my farm Food Network goddess. Is it her fault for being awesome? Is it her fault for playing along in the game of Perfect Public Persona? Maybe it’s the network’s fault for painting a false picture of perfection and playing up all of her over-the-top amazing attributes. Or, maybe it’s social media’s fault for existing. Worst of all, is it my fault for having terrible feelings and not possessing a cleaner soul?
ENVY IS A HUMAN EMOTION
I do have to continue to remind myself that envy is a human emotion. After all, it’s included in the list of 7 Deadly Sins. I’m not a practicing Christian, but this “list of terribles” is embedded in our culture, regardless of whether or not a person is practicing this particular religion. Our culture has even assigned envy it’s very own metaphor and color (“green with envy,” just in case anyone missed that). The topic has been written about by Aristotle, Shakespeare, and anyone who explores the meta of any kind of natural human emotion and/or behavior.
Still, I don’t like the way this monster makes me feel, and I want to do something about it.
WAYS TO DEAL WITH ENVY
Honestly, envy feels like a bit of an addiction to me. I know that watching this show has made me feel like shit about myself in the past. I know that a certain person from my past triggers so much envy, that going onto her Instagram page to see her fabulous life literally ruins my day (or at least, my afternoon). And yet, in a moment of weakness, I sometimes still go there. I pick up that envy drink and then feel regretful after the high has passed.
What I get high from I don’t really know. For the most part, picking up the slimy green drink feels terrible. Perhaps there is indeed a part of me that feels inspired by these envy-triggering women. They are all so truly amazing, and maybe I like to have something to strive for. But, the bad envy gunk completely outweighs the fleeting, inspirational goodness in these cases, and I believe I must just avoid these women all together. This is my solution then.
IF I AM TO GROW, I MUST ABSTAIN
This means, just don’t watch that show. Don’t go on that Instagram page. I just can’t take myself there.
I honestly don’t know if this is a long-term solution or just a band-aid. How do I heal the deeper part of me that feels this way in the first place? An obvious thought is that once I feel better and more confident about my own life, then I won’t get triggered by others. However, I really thought I felt pretty good about my life.
Maybe human beings are like rocks poking out of water. We have the presentable sides that we reveal for all the world to see. But there are still entire parts of ourselves that we keep rooted deep within the earth, hidden under glossy blue waters. Envy, among other things, is the monster that rips our rock selves out of the mud and flips us over to show our pond scum, slime-covered, lurky, murky bottoms.
I can’t help how I feel. But, I can try to use my feelings as a barometer to gauge the state of my soul. Hating myself for feeling my feelings gets me nowhere. I am a work in progress and the work never ends, I don’t think. As of now, this is something that I have uncovered that is just not very goddess-esque, and that’s okay. It has to be, because I know I am doing my best. But I can work on this and hopefully get better.
In my post about CULTIVATING OUR GODDESS QUALITIES IN 2021, I offer a prayer to the goddesses, requesting their assistance. Perhaps I will end with another heart-felt plea to The Divine Ones.
I long to be more like you. Can you help me to embody strength and confidence? Can you show me ways in which to truly support other women? I long to be a beacon of goddess love for others. I don’t know how to get there from this point, and I humbly ask for your assistance. What is the best path? How do I evolve? Can you please show me the way? Many thanks in advance for your assistance, and thank you always for your continued love, guidance, and support.
Following this prayer, I pulled a goddess card from Colette Baron-Reid’s Goddess Power Oracle Deck. The card I pulled was PERSEPHONE / INEXPERIENCE. The message reads: “Sometimes not knowing is a great gift. Right now, the Greek goddess Persephone invites you into a state of openhearted learning. Discernment comes with experience, and at this moment, it’s okay to admit you don’t know or fully understand what is in front of you. Be curious and teachable…”
Thank you, Goddesses. You always know what to say.
And thank you all for reading and hopefully not judging. But if you did judge, or if this rubbed you the wrong way, I totally understand. Either way, thanks for listening and I hope you come again!
Featured photo by Pika Alyani on Unsplash
Green monster photo by David Clode on Unsplash
Farm goddess photo Adalia Botha on Unsplash
Rock photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash