Where does envy come from and how to deal with it

You can listen to the article. If it’s more convenient for you, turn on the podcast.

Why envy is needed and what it is

Scientists suggest that envy appeared due to evolution. This feeling was supposed to indicate the vulnerability of a person and motivate him to correct the situation, and therefore increase the chances of survival.

Envy activates the anterior cingulate cortex, which is also responsible for pain, hunger, sexual satisfaction, and the reward system. That is why a person experiences strong feelings when, for example, he sees a new beautiful car at a neighbor.

Envy pushed primitive people into action: either they took by force what they wanted to possess, or they tried to achieve an equal or higher level on their own. Such aspirations helped to survive and leave offspring. Since then, society has changed a lot, but envy has not disappeared anywhere.

Scientists put forward different theories about what this feeling really is. Some view envy as a purely negative emotion that provokes aggressive behavior. Others – as a person’s reaction to their own shortcomings. And still others generally talk about the existence of soft (white) and malignant (black) envy.

Some languages even have two separate words for these varieties. For example, zazdrość and zawiść in Polish, or benijden and afgunst in Dutch.

According to supporters of the latter theory, mild envy borders on admiration and, as some psychologists believe , can motivate a person. Malignant causes hatred of others or makes you feel unhappy .

What and who do people usually envy

Envy mainly extends to those around us who are close to us in status or whose success is expressed in categories that we understand.

For this reason, we are more responsive to the achievements of others in areas that excite ourselves. For example, an Olympic champion may be the envy of athletes or those who believe that they have not achieved similar success at a similar age .

Achievements of acquaintances excite us more than unknown passers-by. And we compare ourselves less often with very successful people, because we usually do not consider that we have equal talents or opportunities with them.

Finally, concrete rather than abstract things evoke more vivid negative emotions in us. We would rather envy an expensive car, a big house, or frequent trips abroad than contemplative happiness.

That is, a former classmate with his Lexus is a more likely target for envy than Elon Musk . We have known the first one for a long time, and he parks the car right under our window, and the second turns over astronomical sums somewhere in North America.

How envy hurts

The benefits of envy, even mild ones, are not very obvious. So, scientists from Germany, Great Britain and Austria analyzed questionnaires that 18,000 Australians filled out for eight years. Researchers have not found any evidence that envy motivates people to change or leads to increased psychological or material well-being.

But there are definitely a lot of negative effects generated by this emotion.

It can cause hostility between people

Envy compels either to become better yourself, or to do everything to lower the other to your level. This can manifest itself both in minor injections and in outright gloating and aggression. And even between friends , real enmity can flare up .

Although aggressive behavior does nothing to help the envious person achieve what he wants, it quenches his malevolence. For example, American psychologists have found that sports fans sometimes rejoice when a player from an opposing team gets injured.

She can provoke bullying

Envy often becomes the cause of targeted aggression. In the absence of the opportunity to amuse their gloating by other methods or bypass a competitor in a fair fight, many begin to assert themselves with the help of dirty tricks. In this case, bullying and gossip are used.

She can make people lie

Sometimes those who are jealous in a dirty way try to improve their position not through hard work and self-improvement, but with the help of faster methods. For example, lie about your professional achievements in order to get a higher-status job.

It can hurt your career

When a person is obsessed with other people’s success, obsessed with comparisons, he sometimes begins to neglect his duties and even sabotage work. For example, ignore the instructions of a colleague who has received a promotion . Scandals and unfulfilled duties eventually turn against the envious.

It can lead to stress or depression

Due to strong and frequent bouts of envy, self-esteem can fall , and the person himself may begin to be ashamed of his feelings. Painful emotions like these lead to apathy, doubt and isolation – a direct path to stress and depression .

What to do with envy

It is natural to experience such a feeling, but this does not mean that it is impossible or not necessary to deal with it. Here are some tips for dealing with negative emotions.

Determine what causes jealousy

Understanding the reasons will help you better understand your feelings and respond more calmly to the situation. Blind anger will be replaced by a more rational approach, which will also tell you what to do in order to get what you want.

So try to determine what exactly you are missing. For example, if you can’t afford to travel when a colleague with the same salary does so regularly, find a reason. Perhaps he saves on everything, and therefore he has extra money for travel. Or maybe you have a family and children, while nothing holds him.

Focus on your achievements

Take a break from the accomplishments of others and look at yourself. Think about what makes you proud. You may not have become a boss, but all your colleagues respect you. Or maybe you didn’t achieve great success in sports, but you raised wonderful children.

This kind of self-praise will motivate you and distract you from negativity. After all, when you look at your own achievements , you will immediately feel more confident and will be less envious of others.

Try to build relationships and work more together

As a Chinese study showed , if you actively connect with people, there will be less reason for envy. And for you, and for them. So if you are promoted, the rest will consider the decision fair – after all, success has not gone to your head. And if your friend rises up the career ladder, then you will probably be happy for your friend – he is not your rival.

Read also 😠🤗😠

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.