The positive side of envy
Unlike jealousy envy is a motivating factor in many people’s lives. It is because they envy someone’s lifestyle, car or career that they have the drive and ambition to work towards having those things for themselves. It is only a negative emotion when envy makes us feel that we are less of a person for not having those things. When it comes to envying other people’s relationships there is a lot to be learnt from noticing who we envy and what it is in particular about their relationship that we would like for ourselves.
What do you see?
When you see couples you envy, what is it that you see? Are you envious of how affectionate they are with each other or is it the sense of solidarity they have? Maybe they appear to be always happy and laughing at some secret joke or so absorbed in each other its like no-one else exists. Maybe it is couples who seem independent of each other but give of a sense of commitment and loyalty without being together all the time? By noticing what you envy in others you will begin to build up a picture of what you want for yourself in a relationship.
What do you have?
Look out for couples you admire and envy. Examine your social circle and the media and try to find at least four or five couples that you think have what you want. It can be useful to write them down in a list, for example, Victoria and David Beckham:
Victoria is glamorous, slim, rich, reserved, dignified etc
David is talented, handsome, loyal, dedicated etc.
Now look at the list and instead of looking for what you don’t have, look for the qualities that you do have, or things that you could cultivate if you tried. If you are constantly envious of women because they are slim it may be because you want to be slimmer but aren’t putting in the necessary effort to achieve it (Victoria doesn’t stay that shape without a lot of hard work!)
We envy what we want for ourselves and while we may not all be able to be international football stars we can all be loyal and dignified.
Be a detective and use your envy to give you clues to the areas of your life that need some attention and also to the abundance of good qualities you already have.
What can you change?
Envy is a natural human emotion which only becomes negative and destructive when it sets off thought patterns which damage our self-confidence and our belief that we are worthy of love.
When you feel envious take note of what you are thinking and how that thinking makes you feel. Very often we are comparing how we feel on the inside with how others appear on the outside. This gives a distorted picture because often our insides are a big jumble of worries, fears and insecurities while other people seem calm, confident and carefree. The truth is they probably have messy insides too simply because they are human and everyone has problems – even the Beckhams.
You can change how you perceive other people so instead of thinking something like “its all right for them, they have got it made” replace it with something like, “I bet they have had their problems too, I wonder how they cope and stay so happy.” This type of thinking will open your mind and your heart so that every time you feel envy you will practice seeing the whole picture rather than just judging what you see on the surface. This will make you a much better date and a more compassionate person.
What do you dream?
By turning envy around and finding its positive side you will begin to get a clearer idea of what you want for yourself in terms of a relationship. Look at your hopes and dreams, do you believe they are attainable? If not, why not? It is important to have dreams that we feel can be achieved if we are to have the motivation and energy to move forward in life. Sometimes people become stuck and lose sight of their dreams because they have problems which appear insurmountable. In this case it may be worth getting professional help so you can begin to live a life which others may one day envy.
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