Jealousy: Can we talk about it? If you’ve ever found yourself scrolling through a stranger’s Instagram feed and feeling like they have a better life than you, or obsessively stalking someone’s Facebook photos of their latest vacation or their new home, you’re not alone.
Social media can be a great thing, but it has made it almost impossible to avoid feelings of comparison, unworthiness, or resentment. We are overloaded with information, specifically information about other people’s lives. While it can be frustrating to constantly see what’s happening around us, we can also flip the script and make those feelings work for us.
Envy is a very natural feeling. It’s something we all experience. In fact, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. It just gives us an opportunity to shift the focus to our own lives and think about what we want.
In my book Girl Code I talk about how, with a few simple mindset shifts, we can take our envy and turn it into inspiration. My favorite mantra is, “If she can have it, I can have it too.” And I’m going to show you how.
Here are the four steps to transforming jealousy from a negative force in your life to a miraculous one:
Step 1: Reach out to the person you’re jealous of.
I once had a client who constantly compared herself to another woman in her industry. She’d check out this woman’s website all the time, view her Instagram pics, and obsessively think about her business. When I asked if she had ever talked to her “competitor” in real life, she said no. I challenged my client to reach out to this woman and send her an email letting her know how much she loved what she was doing. Because even though she was feeling envious of her, she had great respect and admiration for this woman’s work. At first, my client was extremely hesitant. After all, she had put this woman on a pedestal for so long. But with a gentle nudge, she wound up sending that email, and the two wound up meeting for coffee and having a great conversation. She essentially turned her competitor into a friend, leveling the playing field and realizing that there was nothing to be envious of in the first place. Remember, your competitors are often your soul sisters in disguise!
Step 2: Take a digital detox.
If the time you’re spending online is causing you to feel bitter or unhappy, it may be time for a little social media diet. Take an honest look at how many hours you’re spending looking at others. Get really real with yourself, and commit to a small break. It doesn’t have to be a weeklong blackout period, but even cutting back an hour each day can do wonders for your self-esteem and remind you that your life is happening now. I began logging off at night, about an hour before bedtime, and it has done wonders for my mind. I now allow myself to enjoy that time and reflect on my day, without all the noise.
Step 3: Practice self-compassion.
The feelings that come along with envy aren’t all in your head. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Science revealed that the feeling of jealousy actually activates a region of the brain involved in processing physical pain. So it’s really no wonder we feel so crappy when we start comparing ourselves to others. Envy hurts! Realize that these feelings are totally normal, and recognize that they’re telling you something about yourself. Give yourself some extra TLC, and think about why you’re feeling envious of someone else. What do you need more of in your life? Chances are, you need to stop being so hard on yourself.
Step 4: Replace envy with gratitude.
There’s a quote that I love: “Jealousy is counting someone else’s blessings rather than your own.” Think about how unhealthy it is to focus on what someone else has. What if you took that energy and felt gratitude for your own blessings? I challenge you, right now, to think of five things you’re thankful for. And they don’t have to be big things, either. In fact, some of the most basic blessings are the ones that are the most powerful in our lives. Right now, in this moment, you are breathing. You are alive. You have food to eat. You have a roof over your head. You are reading this article on a computer, or a smartphone. You are one of the most fortunate people in the entire world! Never forget how amazing your own life is. If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this shift. Gratitude changes everything.
And remember, if she can have it, you can too. There is no reason to feel less worthy, less deserving, or less wonderful than anyone else around you. Everything in life is available to you as soon as you decide it is. Claim what you want, stop focusing on what she’s got, and go make it happen for yourself. You’ve got this.