Elisa A. Escalante/ LMSW/ 12-14-2020

“The hardest thing anyone can ever do in the history of humanity: listen, nod, validate” -EaE

     We often stop at envy and fail to look at the root cause within ourselves. Meaning we judge, criticize, laugh at others for our own internal comfort/ gain without exploring what puts us in that mode in the first place. The mode of envy, being that there is something within ourselves that may feel insecure or threatened by the mere appearance and/ or actions of another person. This is a human thing, but often chronically unexplored and not talked about… because, let’s admit it… jealousy isn’t a good look. I encourage people to look at envy for what it actually is: A hint toward what our deep underlying insecurities are. To envy and/ or judge someone means to magnify something about them that makes us ‘uncomfortable’ for whatever reason.

     One thing I pride myself in is my ability to “why” myself and/ or someone else to death. Sometimes it’s important to ‘why’ ourselves until we get to the root cause of how we actually feel. For example, if we find ourselves judging or envying someone it may be useful to ask ourselves why. It’s obviously a much harder task than just putting out judgement into the world and moving on with our lives… but the ‘why?’ can help us get to know ourselves better.

  • Why don’t I like people that dress like that?
  • Why do I assume people that look like ____________ are _______________?
  • Why am I obsessed with laughing at people on reality TV?
  • Why do I often judge celebrities knowing that everyone falls into the trap of making the same human mistakes that they do?
  • Why do I notice other people’s flaws more than I notice my own?

     People often serve as a way of us distracting ourselves from ourselves. Also, judging other’s helps us take the ‘heat’ and feelings of worthlessness away from our mind. If I’m making fun of someone else, I may be alleviating my own shame. If I judge them, maybe I won’t feel as awful as I usually feel about myself. Unfortunately, this approach is counterproductive. The act of judging serves us poorly. Judging and overly criticizing is an act that says, ‘there is something wrong about being human, with human habits, and human mistakes.’ Whether we are putting shame on others or ourselves, we are setting the tone that in the world there is a ‘right way to live’ and a ‘wrong way to live’. However most things are not Universal. We do different things, we have different likes/ wants/ needs, we have different ways of expressing ourselves, we look different, we lead different lifestyles etc.

     Checking in with our envy serves as a way of putting less judgement into the world, so that we may judge ourselves less, and be judged less. The other important thing to remember, is that if someone is envious of you, see it more as a ‘them’ problem vs a ‘you’ problem. For example, “A person’s envy toward me is not my fault or my burden, it is their issue that they will have to deal with on their own.” There is often an urge to try to ‘win over’ those that envy or hate us. Refrain from this urge, as it will often exacerbate the other party’s envy and will only serve to build resentment in you. Sometimes, we are just not someone’s ‘cup of tea’, nor do we want to build an unhealthy pattern with someone who already has preconceived notions of who we are.

     Using ‘Envy’ constructively

     There is a concept in the athletic/ sports world regarding ‘friendly competition’. Meaning, we as humans can use our competitive side to our advantage, by bettering ourselves. Friendly competition looks like working out with a friend and both parties holding each other accountable and pushing each other to improve. It looks like an incredible race, sparring match, ball game or dance off in which all people are smiling and gaining something from the competition; everyone improves. Destructive envy looks like hate, shame, blaming, judging to a point where we hate ourselves more in the long run. Taking envy and channeling it into something constructive and helpful looks like modeling or taking advice from that person that is ‘better’ than you at something, so that you may become better yourself.

     The difference between whether humans destroy each other or uplift each other has to do with our ability to know ourselves and know each other. Our ability to compromise, collaborate, grow, mature and hold ourselves to better standards than we did before. Macro (big picture) envy looks like violence and war, macro level support looks like a humanitarian mission in which we rebuild communities and each other. We gain something, even when it’s not ‘always about us’. We gain something in acknowledging the fact that we need each other, we do not have to be enemies.


     To reinforce the concept that we do need each other to some extent, I stress the fact that human beings are social creatures. Human beings are not the ‘independent’ socially isolative people that they like to pretend to be. “I hate people” comes up a lot, and that may be true to some extent, but are we helping ourselves with that hate? Also, are we acknowledging the importance of what people do for us in our daily lives?

     Interdependence Monitoring:

  • Who do I rely on for shelter?  Contractors/ laborers/ shelter system employees/ real estate agents/ financial providers/ parents/ guardians/ kids/ employers
  • For money? Employers/ clients & customers/ bankers/ financial providers/ government employees/ taxpayers/ friendly donations
  • For food and beverage? Farmers/ fisherman/ laborers/ cooks/ manufacturers/ stockers/ cashiers/ employer’s/ food bank employees
  • For emotional support? Friends/ family/ therapist/ peers/ tech/ social media group members/ life coaches
  • For physical health? Doctors/ Nurses/ medical assistants/ nurturers (typically our parents)/ public health workers/ safety inspectors/ professions built to protect us
  • For entertainment? Artists/ entertainers/ technological experts/ friends/ significant others/ laborers/ amusement park workers/ media workers

     Envy will only serve as a way of hindering our ability to work interdependently, as we were always meant to do as a human race. Hopefully both the purpose and hindrance of envy was explored as well as the why it is not helpful and the ways to counter it going forward. I encourage everyone to do their own interdependence monitoring so that we may practice more gratitude for those that are in our lives, and less envy toward things that are not worth being envious over in the first place.

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

One thought on “ENVY

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