Your Envy Is The Key To Your True Desires
Recently I checked the last pictures of Italian fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni and felt how my facial expression became skeptical while I scrolled through her Instagram feed. “She gave birth wearing makeup and having perfect wavy hair? Seriously, who on Earth gives birth looking so flawless? This is so false.”
Her face showed no exhaustion after the labor; she looked like a fresh peach in cute pink pajamas while holding her baby. Probably, this is what is called happy motherhood.
“How is it possible to look so stunningly good? It’s a hospital, not a vacation in the Bahamas” — I winced. “Hm, it’s easy to be always gorgeous when you have a nanny to sit with your kid, a chef who will cook for you, and a stylist who comes to fix your hair while you are in the ward. Why the rest of the women don’t have such luxury? Unfair.”
Chiara belongs to a world that I can’t understand with my current level of experience. They say: don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Good saying, I totally agree. There also can be no light without darkness, and it looked like a gloomy cloud of envy was beginning to form around me.
“Oh Gods, I’m not supposed to feel that way.” — I pushed my smartphone away.
“I’m envious.” That was unpleasant to admit. In our society, envy, jealousy, anger are unwelcome emotions. They can cause terrible things; just read headlines in the news. However, some therapists say that people have the right to experience those feelings. Avoiding or suppressing them can hurt your physical and mental health in the long run.
I remembered a phrase I read a long time ago:
“Jealousy is information. It tells you what you desire, what you admire, what you despise in yourself. You could learn from the person you envy if you weren’t blinded by resentment. Learning feels better than loathing.” — Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Roman emperor and a Stoic philosopher.
Ancient people got everything right. Can this wisdom be applied to envy, since they with jealousy are pretty similar? I think so, yes. This time, instead of suppressing the feeling labeled as unfavorable, I decided to listen to it and try to understand what provoked it.
Ask yourself why you are envious.
Sakichi Toyoda is a Japanese inventor who created the Technique of 5 whys. Initially, it was helping to solve the technical issues in the automotive production in Toyota plants.
Here is how Wikipedia describes it: “The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?” Each answer forms the basis of the next question. The “five” in the name derives from an anecdotal observation on the number of iterations needed to resolve the problem…
…For example, a problem is: The vehicle will not start.
- Why? — The battery is dead. (First why)
- Why? — The alternator is not functioning. (Second why)
- Why? — The alternator belt has broken. (Third why)
- Why? — The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (Fourth why)
- Why? — The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (Fifth why, a root cause)”
You may continue to ask yourself why six or more times until you understand the main reason for the issue. It is the express method to solve personal problems because you can have a clear picture for yourself within seconds.
In my case, the problem was that I’m feeling envy towards a beautiful woman.
- Why? — Because Chiara was wearing makeup during the labor, this doesn't seem right. (First why)
2. Why? — Because a woman can’t spend hours twisting her face in pain and look like she is ready for the red carpet. (Second why)
3.Why? — Because there is no time for that. You need to think about chores, food, recovery supplies. You feel tired and can’t do your hair unless somebody will do it for you. (Third why)
4. Why? — Because you need to hire people to do all that work instead of you, so you can feel free to spend your days as you wish. (Fourth why and the root cause)
Just in four “whys,” I understand what my problem was. Not the influencer’s look bugged me, but the fact that Chiara can enjoy her life without thinking about domestic chores. I felt envious because I also want to look gorgeous and spend my time doing fun things in the cozy pink pajamas. I didn’t realize before how much I’m tired of cooking and cleaning the kitchen every day. Now, knowing what actually bothers me, I can find a way to solve my discomfort, maybe by hiring a chef and a cleaner.
Knowing the problem is a first step on a way to solve it. How — another question
Don’t analyze your feelings too long.
Negative emotions have a peculiar ability to suck you in like a swamp if you hang around it too long. Don’t forget to pull yourself back to a safe place of kindness and optimism after getting your answer. Clap, smile, and say, “Bravo! You did a great job by figuring out things quickly.”