Turn Envy Into Action

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“It seems to me that we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.” – George Eliot

Do you spend time thinking about what you don’t have and what others do have? Do you imagine “the grass is greener on the other side?” Consider what life might look like if you ended up with another person, could be just like so-and-so, could live somewhere else, or perhaps had more money to live a decadently free life? In other words, do you find that you are at times “green with envy” of other people, places and things?

To some degree, I believe most people want more of something they do not have whether it is materially, relationally, spiritually, financially, emotionally or physically. If not, where would the motivation come from to do better, become better, and accomplish more in order to positively impact ours and the lives of family, friends and communities. Envy can provide the desire to create the best version of self.

Let’s look at the people, places and things you might long for…instead of envying other people for who you think they are or the life you see that they lead, why not let the things you are attracted to in another person such as their smile, their kindness or their self-confidence, motivate you to find that within yourself or accept your own uniqueness. If you crave being in another place, whether it is a trip or a new home, self-check to determine if you are escaping or running away from a situation you do not want to face or you simply long for more beauty. When it comes to the coveting of new possessions, buying something because you think it will bring you more overall acceptance or will help you to fit in is not a good reason for your purchase. But if something you want makes you feel beautiful, confident or happy and you can afford it, then go for it.

Unfortunately, as one of the seven deadly sins, envy does have a bad reputation as it can create resentment and jealousy. Envy is bad when it hurts your self-esteem, causes you to focus on what you lack or it creates any negativity around others’ achievements. When it causes you to be a victim and makes you feel inferior, you might be compromising who you are. Being a martyr to your circumstances is not pretty either, and any of these thoughts could hold you back from creating the life you could have. However , when you learn to recognize the difference between the good and evil of envy, then envy can inspire you into action.

Envy is good when it…

  • Motivates you to learn more about who you really are.
  • Crystallizes your own dreams and desires.
  • Dismisses mediocrity, inadequacy or fear.
  • Teaches you to ask for help from others and to be real, open, honest and vulnerable.
  • Offers a new perspective and viewpoint.
  • Ignites authentic action.
  • Helps you to find mentors and gain knowledge from their successes.
  • Builds your confidence by making choices that are true to you.

I believe envy can give you the chance to find out what you truly want. It provides a gauge to see where you rank on your own happiness meter, and it can give you a zeal that creates a drive for enhancement. Envy can cause you to have a conscious life full of choices, and can turn your envy into enthusiastic and rewarding action.

5 Coaching Steps to Turn Envy into Action:

1. List five things that you truly envy.

2. Using the list above, probe deeper by noticing more specifically what emotions get triggered… are you jealous? Angry? Happy? Sad? Frustrated?

3. Now, what action items are you willing to take to get what you want for yourself that are based on the “right” feelings for you?

4. Ask yourself, will these items create sustainable fulfillment or just happiness in the moment?

5. Now, choose the one that speaks to your heart and soul and do that one first.
Meet Jennifer: Life Coach, Inspirational Speaker and Author Jennifer M. Blair is founder of Excavive™ Coaching and Consulting, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Her work focuses on empowering people to pursue their passions, increase their self-confidence, communicate powerfully and build the kind of lives they want to live. If you love these Blog posts, many have been adapted from her first book, The True You: Tools to Excavate, Explore and Evolve, published in 2011.