ENVY (from Latin invidia) is 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.” Aristotle defined envy as pain at the sight of another’s good fortune, stirred by “those who have what we ought to have.”
Bertrand Russell said that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. Not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his or her envy, but that person may also wish to inflict misfortune on others. Although envy is generally seen as something negative, Russell also believed that envy was a driving force behind the movement of economies and must be endured to achieve the “keep up with the Joneses” system. He believed this is what helps to maintain democracy, a system where no one can achieve more than anyone else.
A person may feel envious or malicious because of personal conflicts with self-esteem or with self-limitations. There is a lack of self-worth and often a feeling of inferiority. Envy falsely assumes that self-worth can be attained through possessions or achievements. When these belong to someone else, the envious person feels a loss of self-worth and wishes that the other person would lose these things so that his own self-worth can be restored.
Why do people envy others? Why would someone hate to see someone else happy or feel bad whenever he sees him doing well? Feelings of envy stem from the inferiority feelings one experiences upon seeing someone else doing better.
M. Farouk Radwan said that our thoughts come to our minds from two different sources. From within, where we suddenly remember something that is of importance to us or from the external environment where we see something that reminds us of something else. You might not remember your obesity problem until you see someone with a perfect body. People who have emotional wounds don’t feel bad all the time. They just remember the wounds whenever they encounter something that reminds them of their wounds. Envy doesn’t only result from seeing someone doing better than us. Envy results from remembering that we are no good or that we can’t do like what others did.
Envious people are those you just ignore. Let their jokes and comments be like spears passing through water. There is no real harm they can do and often, if they see their comments have no effect, they eventually back off and continue hating in silence.
By defending yourself in front of them, you are giving these people more importance than they deserve. Many of them are hoping this will happen, because they derive power not from real results, but from manipulative, power games.
The people who can sabotage your career, relationships or life have to be dealt with as soon as you notice comments or behaviors that suggest envy. Try talking to them. Point their conduct, express your honest opinions in a tactful way and seek to get their perspective on things. If this approach fails, then focus on cutting this person’s power over you. This means you change your environment and your social dynamics, so the envious person no longer has power to affect you.
Envious people can be a bother, but they don’t have to. Know how to deal with them wisely, have the confidence and the people skills to do so, and they become insignificant, which is what envious people deserve to be – become insignificant.
“Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.” ~ Dennis Prager
“The one characteristic of authentic power that most people overlook is humbleness. It is important for many reasons. A humble person walks in a friendly world. He or she sees friends everywhere he or she looks, wherever he or she goes, whomever he or she meets. His or her perception goes beyond the shell of appearance and into essence.” ~ Gary Zukav
“The envious die not once, but as oft as the envied win applause.” ~ Baltasar Gracián
“A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” ~ Proverbs 14:30
“Envy shoots at others and wounds itself.” ~ English Proverb