It’s summer here in Toronto. During this time of year, it can be easy to note things that those around us have:

  • More vacation time
  • Children may express that they wish we had a cottage we could go to
  • Neighbours may seem to have less responsibility or commitments to juggle, or
  • Siblings seem to have the favour of our parents, no matter the circumstance.

What is Envy?

Envy is often described as a feeling of discontent or resentment that is triggered by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. The physical experience can often include:

  • flushing
  • increased arousal in our head, neck and upper torso.

Often people experience feelings of shame about their envy, as though we “shouldn’t” be feeling this way.

How Envy Can be Useful

Envy however, like many of our other emotions, is an interesting and useful signal. Our emotions carry important messages. One question to ask is: “what is it that envy trying to convey?”

Perhaps we may have certain thoughts about ourselves, such as we aren’t good enough to achieve what someone else has achieved.

Or perhaps we have thoughts about the world, such as the world not being a fair place.

In these cases, examining these thoughts using an evidence-based approach can help us determine if there may be another way to think about these situations.

Another Way of Looking at Envy

We can also think of envy as recognition of what we are setting our course toward. The “pang” of envy may be a sign that we want an experience, recognition, or achievement, and that others have achieved it while we are still pursuing it. As such, we can use this experience as a way of setting new goals, and problem-solving solutions toward what we want.

Ultimately, envy can be an acknowledgement of what matters to us, so there is no reason to feel shame about this!

But if envy seems to be derailing your mood, morale or enjoyment of time with others, a therapist can be helpful in sorting out to use this feeling to make meaningful life changes for you.

The content of this blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health provider or physician with any questions that you have regarding mental health concerns. If you think you have an emergency, please call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.