Envy: how to turn a destructive poison into a means of powerful motivation?

An ax of the soul, a destructive poison for the heart, the most disgusting passion, the baseness of nature, the friend of empty souls, the sister of competition, the mother of iniquities... There are so many metaphors about this feeling in the works of ancient and modern philosophers and writers! Every person has experienced envy at least once. Only for some it is just a short-term emotion - a prick, the pain from which passes quickly, and the wound remains almost invisible. But for others, it becomes a real pathology, corroding the soul and requiring the intervention of psychologists, and sometimes psychotherapists.

Envy reasons

The reasons for this condition: dissatisfaction or need for something, lack of money, need, dissatisfaction with one’s appearance, lack of personal achievements.

Envy and its causes lie in a difficult childhood due to the fault of the parents, if the child was not taught to accept himself as he is, if the child did not receive unconditional love, but only received praise for fulfilling certain requirements (washing dishes, playing the violin). If the parents scolded the child for any deviation from the rules, using offensive phrases, as well as using physical force. If parents taught their child that poverty, restrictions, sacrifice are normal, but being rich is bad. If the parents forced sharing and did not allow the child to freely dispose of his things, if they crushed him with a feeling of guilt for the achieved happiness, joy, if they taught him to openly fear manifestations of personal happiness in order to avoid the evil eye. If parents did not give the attitude to expect good things from life, but instilled personal life attitudes such as “life is hard” or “life is a big problem.”

As a result, a person grows up who does not know how to enjoy life, who has a huge number of complexes, beliefs, self-restraints, and norms adopted from their parents. An envious feeling is instilled in someone who is internally unfree, who has been instilled with self-criticism, self-sacrifice, who has been kept in strictness and has not been taught to expect bright and positive things from life. Such a person grows up in restrictions and further limits himself, does not give himself freedom, does not allow himself to show joy.

What does envy mean? To envy means to live constantly in a system of comparison and identification. “Better - worse” is the main criterion for comparison. An envious person, comparing himself, begins to realize that he is worse in something else. In fact, these two concepts do not exist by themselves; they live in our heads.

The reason for envy is also explained by the fact that we communicate with ourselves around the clock, and whom we envy we observe only for a moment. So contradictions collide: the line of one’s own life and the flashes of brightness of someone else’s life.

They try to take credit for your success.

There are some people who will appreciate your progress, but at the same time they will try to take credit for your success. They will portray as if they played an important role in your success and achievements.

They will tell you things like:

"I told you this is the right way."

“I always knew you would do this.”

“I remember the time you came to me for advice.”

Although such statements can also be made by sincerely caring people who really believe in you and care about you, those who are truly your well-wishers. So don't confuse this with them. You will intuitively know who is sincere and who is not.

Signs of envy

Often, after telling someone about personal joy, we feel that they are not sincerely happy with us, although they try to show it.

How can you learn to recognize the signs of envy? Body language will help you understand and see the signs of envy of your interlocutor. Watch your interlocutor's face carefully. A tense smile reflects a person’s ambivalent state. It's easier than ever to fake a smile. An insincere smile is indicated by a crooked smile in the mouth and a lack of sparkle in the eyes. If you notice your interlocutor smiling with just his mouth, this is an insincere facial expression, but just a mask. An envious smile opens or closes the teeth, and may be less wide than usual. The lips are tense, and the corners of the mouth are often stretched unnaturally. The person is trying with all his might to show joy, while overcoming his own resistance. The smile visually looks like it is glued on, living separately from the face, the corners of the lips are lowered down, the eyes are prickly and attentively observing. A person unconsciously extinguishes his own smile. Sometimes a person smiles on only one side, showing more of a grin than a smile itself. The head is tilted to the side. Skeptics tend to exhibit this behavior. Sometimes a person squints his eyes and holds his hands near his mouth, covering it. Closed poses (hands hidden behind the back, in pockets) indicate a person’s desire to isolate himself.

The tilt of the body also says a lot during a conversation. If a person moves away during a conversation, this indicates that he wants to stop it, perhaps it is unpleasant for him. The degree of sincerity is determined by the change in the degree of freedom, as well as the amplitude of movements. If the interlocutor is extremely constrained and reserved, then there is a possibility that he is holding back his thoughts and, if possible, not showing them to his interlocutor.

Envious people brag about their achievements and successes

If someone starts boasting about their successes and virtues whenever they hear about other people's achievements, they are likely experiencing personal insecurity about their worth.

After hearing about other people's qualities and successes, they subconsciously feel that their own worth is being threatened by someone who may be better than them.

In their mind, they always have to stay on top and be better than most people in order to feel good about themselves and be happy with their worth. Envious people believe that their experience, knowledge and achievements are superior to everyone else.

Research on envy

Many people claim that envious feelings are unfamiliar to them. This is a controversial statement. Philosophers considered envy as a universal human phenomenon, observed in destructive functions, as well as in the desire to possess other people's property or appropriation of the achievements of another. Spinoza attributed the feeling of envy to displeasure at someone else's happiness. Democritus noted that an envious feeling gives rise to discord among people. Helmut Scheck presented a comprehensive analysis of envy, including the entire socio-psychological and social aspect of human behavior. Envy leads to “ego exhaustion” and produces a state of mental fatigue. G. Shek attributes it to illness. Once established, this condition becomes incurable.

Research from the National Institute of Radiology (NIRS) of Japan has found that the brain's response during envy is in the anterior cingulate cortex, and the same area responds to pain.

Melanie Klein notes that envy is the opposite of love and an envious person is uncomfortable with the sight of pleasure in people. Such a person only benefits from the suffering of others.

Christianity classifies an envious feeling among the seven deadly sins and compares it with a related despondency, but it is distinguished by its objectivity and is determined by grief for the well-being of one’s neighbor. The main reason for envy in Christianity is pride. A proud person cannot stand his equals, or those who are higher and in a more prosperous position.

Envy is born when the well-being of another arises, and with the cessation of well-being, it ceases. The following stages are distinguished in the development of an envious feeling: inappropriate rivalry, zeal with annoyance, slander towards the envious individual. Islam condemns envy in the Qur'an. According to Islam, Allah created people to experience feelings of envy as part of a worldly test, but warned them that they should avoid developing this feeling. There are tips to prevent the emergence of envious feelings.

Envy is an ambiguous feeling that stands at the origins of wars and revolutions, shooting arrows of witticisms. This feeling supports vanity, and also launches the black flywheel of social movements, acting as the reverse side of the cloak of pride.

The study of envy also discovered another function - stimulating, inducing human creative activity. Feeling envious, people strive for superiority and make discoveries. The idea of ​​creating something to make everyone envious often leads to good results. However, the stimulating function is closely related to human destructive activity.

How to protect yourself from envy? To avoid an envious attitude towards themselves, people try to hide information about their well-being.

There are interesting data: 18% of respondents never tell anyone about their achievements and successes, up to 55.8% of respondents tell others about their successes if they trust their interlocutors.

Some philosophers, as well as sociologists, believe that an envious feeling is very useful for society. Envy breeds modesty. The typical envious person never becomes the person he envies and often does not get what he envies, but modesty provoked by fear of an envious feeling has important social significance. Often such modesty is insincere and false and gives people of low social status a sense of illusion that they are not in this position by force.

During the time of Cain and Abel, envious feelings suffered continuous attacks. Christians classified it as a mortal sin leading to the death of the soul. John Chrysostom ranked envious people among beasts and demons. And crowds of preachers, thinkers, and public figures attributed health problems, ozone holes, and civil wars to the concentration of envy in the blood of earthlings. Only the lazy one did not speak negatively about the envious feeling.

How does envy affect a person? In different ways, in some ways it is a useful thing. List of advantages of an envious feeling: competition, competition, survival mechanism, setting records. Lack of envy leads to the fact that a person remains unsuccessful and does not demand justice for himself.

Scheck argues that individuals are unable to recover from envious feelings, and that this feeling does not allow society to fall apart. In his opinion, envy is a natural reaction of an individual to frustration. Negative emotions that arise towards the object of envy (anger, frustration, hatred) act as defense mechanisms that mask the feeling of one’s own inferiority, while finding shortcomings in the object of envy, which makes it possible to reduce the significance of the object of envy and reduce tension. If a person realizes that the object of envy is not to blame for him, then aggression turns inside the envier himself, while transforming into the emotion of guilt.

G.H. Seidler believes that an envious feeling leads to emotional experiences that are difficult to bear (despair). An envious person is characterized by the presence of shame - this is a discrepancy with the ideal Self and the result of self-reflection. The emotion of envy has physiological manifestations: a person turns pale or yellow, and blood pressure rises.

They may ask you awkward, probing questions.

There is a difference between asking about a person's achievements and scrutinizing them. Both have very different shades.

At first, you may think that the person is really curious about your experience. But as the conversation progresses, your excitement about talking about yourself turns into an uncomfortable interaction that may leave you feeling a little unreasonable or even doubting yourself due to their inquisitive questions.

The whole point of asking such intense and awkward questions is to shake the other person's confidence. Envious people cannot tolerate confident people.

“Envy is the bile of the soul.”

— John Dryden

Types of envy

Envy can be characterized by the following epithets: caustic, hostile, burning, fierce, cruel, hidden, spiteful, evil, good-natured, good, respectful, powerless, ferocious, wild, inexpressible, incredible, strong, painful, boundless, easy, uncontrollable, boundless, deep, involuntary, sharp, unsatisfied, simple, jealous, slavish, timid, terrible, deadly, secret, quiet, frank, humiliating, cunning, black, cold, white, omnipotent, pinching, salieric, satanic.

M. Scheler studied impotent envy. This is a terrible kind of envy. It is directed against the individual, as well as the essential being of an unfamiliar individual, it is existential envy.

Types of envy: short-term (situational or envy-emotion) - victory in competitions, long-term (envy-feeling) - a single woman envies a successful married woman, and an envious colleague envies a successful employee.

Bacon identified two types of envy: private and public. A public form should not be ashamed or hidden, unlike a secret (private) one.

They try to compete with you and do everything you do.

Some people don't show obvious expressions of envy when you meet them in person. But behind the scenes they are monitoring your progress and trying to compete with you.

You may see them doing similar things soon after you do it.

Envious people will buy similar material items a few days after you post them on social media.

They will take the same courses and programs as you to succeed in their profession.

They may even follow the same career path as you and take the same initiative as you.

Feelings of envy

Envy is a complex feeling that arises during the process of comparison. It is a mixture of irritation, resentment, aggression, and bitterness. An envious feeling arises when comparing your health, yourself, your appearance, your position in society, your abilities, your successes with those people who undeservedly and deservedly have more. Frequent envy causes stress, wearing out the nervous system. The psyche activates a safety algorithm and causes contempt for the object of envy.

Envy gnaws and discontent grows if someone has something that is desirable for the individual. Dissatisfaction with the luck of another individual is expressed in hostility towards him. In some cases, frustration and depression appear due to one’s perceived inferiority, and a desire to possess the missing property. Due to the fact that the desired object is often unattainable, the envious feeling is resolved through the renunciation of desires, as well as the acceptance of reality.

The feeling of envy is conventionally divided into black and white. In the first case, it is marked by a conscious desire for indirect or direct harm to the individual whom we envy. Religions do not share the feeling of envy, classifying it as a mortal sin. There is another side to this feeling, pushing towards personal achievements, being an incentive for progress.

How do men and women envy?

Are there any differences in the envy of men and women? The specialist found an answer to this question. As it turns out, envy has no gender. Envy is a feeling of injustice, mental sadness about someone else's good, which is inherent in both sexes.

The only difference is what is the envy of men and women.

As a rule, men envy: • manhood; • a younger and more beautiful body; • career; • money; • men whose woman is more beautiful than their own; • age.

Women have similar points of envy, but they are still different. Thus, women envy: • appearance; • breast size; • age; • who is married\who is not married; • presence of children.

From this it is clear that the primitive basis of envy for everyone is the successful implementation of the masculine or feminine principle.

Psychology of envy

Human envy manifests itself in a feeling of annoyance and irritation, hostility and hostility caused by the success, well-being, and superiority of another person. An envious person attributes the object of his envy to the winner, and considers himself a loser. No reasonable arguments can stop negative emotions. People's envy turns someone else's success into their own inferiority; someone else's joy provokes their own annoyance and dissatisfaction.

Human envy forces an individual to experience a bouquet of negative emotions: ill will, resentment, anger, aggression. The manifestation of white envy allows you to rejoice in other people's successes.

The psychology of envy and its occurrence is associated with several theories. The first classifies this feeling as innate, genetically determined and inherited from our ancestors as a result of evolution. It is believed that human envy in primitive society was an impetus for self-improvement. Men's envy pushed them to improve their fishing gear and weapons, while women's envy pushed them to attract men through constant adornment of themselves.


It is useful for everyone to know what pathological envy leads to in order to realize all the harm that it has on literally all areas of life.

Effect on physical health:

  • The pressure constantly rises - hypertension develops;
  • hyperhidrosis;
  • tachycardia, arrhythmia, cardiovascular diseases;
  • dyspnea;
  • problems in the nervous system;
  • muscle tension is formed;
  • the functioning of the digestive tract is disrupted, which can lead to the development of gastritis and the formation of ulcers;
  • pathologically low pain threshold (due precisely to the fact that the same part of the brain is responsible for envy and pain).

One of the Japanese neuroscientists suggested that pathologically envious people are more likely than others to become cancer patients. Statistics confirm this, but more scientific research is needed.

Mental health consequences:

  • insomnia;
  • neurotic disorders;
  • obsessive thoughts;
  • suicidal tendencies;
  • various personality and behavior disorders;
  • deep depression;
  • neuroses, psychopathy;
  • destruction of the system of moral values ​​and personal attitudes.

In addition to all this, it is worth considering the destruction of interpersonal relationships. An envious person has no real friends, because at a certain moment, when they achieve something more, they become the object of his uncontrollable bile and anger. Over time, such people lose the ability to be happy for others and distance themselves from others. Social maladaptation, isolation, autism - these are the consequences of this all-destroying feeling.

Teenage envy

Teenage envy can be directed at a variety of attributes: talent, physical strength, height, hair color, physique, possession of gadgets. Adults should be understanding of teenage envy, which worsens during this period. You should not immediately respond to all the teenager’s requests and satisfy his desires, thereby pleasing him. The mistake parents make is that they immediately acquire the desired thing, brushing aside the problem, and the next time the situation repeats itself and the envious feeling takes root, turning into a habit.

None of us are born envious; this feeling develops throughout life. When adults give an example of a more successful peer, they thereby cultivate their own embittered envious person, rather than create healthy competition. Under no circumstances should you resort to such comparisons. In each such case, the child will develop an envious feeling, which will turn into irritation. The teenager will experience his own inferiority, and will also put on himself the hated label of a loser. The child’s world will begin to be perceived in a distorted reality, and comparison with other teenagers will become dominant.

How to overcome envy? The task of parents is to help the teenager assert himself, as well as determine his personal life position. Explain to your child that an envious feeling primarily causes harm through its experiences. These experiences affect not only the teenager’s psyche, but also their physical condition. An envious feeling must be treated as a personal enemy and not given the opportunity to defeat oneself.

Knowing the reasons and reasons that provoke an envious feeling, and this is someone else's wealth, the beauty of another person, good health, prosperity, talent, intelligence, you can prepare yourself to meet this. It is necessary for yourself to identify personal achievements and talents, and in no case compare yourself with others. Man is imperfect, so smart people strive to be content with what they have and what they themselves can achieve, but we will always be less envious. If all these simple truths are conveyed to the child at an early age, the teenager will grow up happy and free. Therefore, it is important to help children decide in time by making the right choice. Parents must prove this by personal example and under no circumstances enviously discuss the success of relatives and neighbors in front of them.

How does envy affect a person? An envious feeling acts as a means of manipulation and poses a danger to the weak in spirit. Such individuals will do anything to achieve what they want. Envy is similar to anger, but anger, once activated, spills out, and an envious feeling lurks and destroys a person from the inside. An envious feeling, condemned by society, should also be condemned by the person himself. This is the only way to free yourself from it. A teenager must independently learn to recognize the envious feeling that he tries to win over to his side, thereby destroying relationships with friends, making him joyless and gloomy.

A widespread theory is that it notes the emergence of envy in a person in the process of social life. This theory is of the opinion that envious feelings are a consequence of improper upbringing of a child, which arises when compared with other children.


  1. First, engage in self-knowledge and self-development. If you keep track of your desires and realize them, then you will feel less anger at the success of others. To do this, you can try the methods from this article.
  2. Human psychology is such that if he does not allow himself to express negative feelings, they will begin to destroy his body. But how can we talk about anger when the interlocutor shares how great he is at something? And it’s easy, as I said at the beginning of the article, you need to transform anger into recognition by thinking about what you are better at. It looks something like this: “Yes, you know how to drive a car perfectly, and you can handle it even in very critical situations, but I know how to repair it and put it in order on my own.” The second part of the sentence doesn’t have to be said out loud, it’s just that the level of negativity will decrease as soon as you realize that your partner is not ideal, and there are things that you can do better.
  3. The following exercise will help you overcome overwhelming envy: write a list of 10 points in which you are better than your competitor. Don’t be humble, indicate material and intangible indicators, what you can do better, what you’re more fortunate in, and so on.
  4. Often the perfection of other people's lives is just tinsel. A person will not always share experiences and difficulties even with friends, if only because he will have to admit some kind of failure, first of all, to himself, and it is often embarrassing to expose the “clumsy” part. Understanding this process will help alleviate the condition and return you to reality.
  5. How to get rid of the envy of others? Unfortunately, either by having the courage to clarify the relationship by starting to ask direct questions, or by limiting the amount of information you are going to share. Sometimes you even have to stop communicating, because there is no way to relax in contact, controlling your words and hiding the truth, so as not to notice a malicious look or joy again in case of any trouble. The choice is not easy, but it’s worth it. Why do you need people around you who wish you harm?

The chain is simple

adonesFAO / Pixabay
We envy - we are bad (according to the attitude) - we scold ourselves - we are hurt - we must cleanse ourselves, become correct - those we envy are bad - they are to blame - they can be hated - and our envy is nothing more, than the restoration of justice, that is, we do not have envy, but righteous anger.

Why are we angry with ourselves? 4 rage targets.

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They will try to lead you astray

The worst and most serious case of envy is when the jealous person tries his best to make the other person go astray. They will go the extra mile and put in a lot of effort to bring someone down.

It is sociopathic behavior that poses a potential threat to one's progress, success and happiness.

In such cases, it is extremely important to stay away from jealous people and involve someone in this scenario who can sincerely help you against the false plans of the jealous person.

  • 10 signs that you are under the influence of a manipulator

Envious people will try to demotivate you

When you share your future plans, intentions and the initiative you want to take, envious people usually try to demotivate you by showing you the negative side of things. They will tell you:

“This is not for everyone” “I had the opportunity too, but I decided not to do it” “You don’t have enough knowledge or skills to succeed at this” “You will need a lot of resources to get started” “Are you sure this is a good idea ? “Why don’t you do this instead?

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