Have you ever been so envious of someone that you tried to continually one-up them, kind of like trying to keep up with the Joneses or even surpass them? Or have you observed someone who seems to envy others and never seems content? William Shakespeare said, “And oft, my jealousy shapes faults that are not.” When we envy someone in a bad way, we often find fault with them in an attempt to bring them down and raise ourselves up because of our own insecurities and desires.
“Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.” —Unknown
“Envy shoots at others and wounds itself.” —English proverb
“A tranquil heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” —Proverbs 14:30
Envy is the result of having insecurities and not being content. It’s like a cancer that seeks to mutate healthy cells and ends up eventually killing its host. The ironic thing about being insecure and discontent is we might actually convince ourselves we’re superior to others and happy with ourselves. Just like anger, envy can manifest itself in passive ways, even as kindness, in an attempt to be in control or appear better than others. Eventually though, people can see through the façade, and the very thing that envy tries to grasp—respect and love— ends up slipping away. Envy has the tendency to make enemies of its friends.
So how do we combat envy within ourselves? Practice being grateful and content, and stop comparing ourselves to others. How do we deal with someone who is envious of us and continually seems to find ways to put us down? Realize they are acting out of their own insecurities, be confident in who we are, take their criticisms with a grain of salt, and love them anyway. And just as we should avoid being around angry people, lest we become like them, we should avoid hanging out with envious people, lest we learn to be discontent, boastful and critical, too.