by Jennifer Louden
I once spent a year obsessed with another writer's success. Envy whispered in my ear, "You should have what she has and right now." I was aghast at my obsession, especially given that I didn't particularly like her book, and yet envy wouldn't go away. It was (almost) comical how each time a fresh wave of envy broke over me, there she would be, her name in an email, her book dropping out of a bookshelf at my feet, an invitation to be on a panel with her in my PO box.
I sat with envy, probing it, turning it over, trying to get at the heart of what was so important to me about this writer or her work. What I
slowly (oh how slowly) discovered: I was envious of the support system she had created while I was stuck in a pattern of doing everything all by my lonesome. What I wanted was to collaborate creatively with others. Zap! Almost overnight, my envy shrunk and my passion for new ventures ignited.
Envy's favorite phrase is, "If only." If you have a present case of "If only," give your "if onlys" some air time. Make a list. If I only had
that job, her buns, his house, then I would be powerful, sexy, happy.
Using your list, ask yourself the question spiritual teacher and best-selling author Oriah Mountain Dreamer teaches. "It doesn't really interest me if I have (insert one of your if onlys), what I really want is ____." As in, "It doesn't really interest me if I have enough time, what I really want is to feel at peace." Or "It doesn't really interest me lose 20 pounds, what I really want is to feel comfortable in my own skin."
Let's say you discover you really want peace. Using a tool I adapted from my mentor, friend, and master coach Molly Gordon, check in with yourself each night and ask, "When was I most peaceful today?" Next, recall when you were least peaceful. Jot these moments down--I keep a special journal Molly gave me for this purpose. Do this every night for a month. You'll find several things happen. You start to look for and create more peaceful moments each day. And by creating a record of your choices and looking back on it after a month, a tremendous amount of information about how you commit and oppose peace will come into your awareness. I've been keeping my record for about 6 months now and I find it a powerful tool for change.
Perhaps you have a story that envy means you are bad, shallow, not spiritually evolved. What if envy is a sign post, pointing you to the next step in your life's path, and warning you where you might have lost track of your deepest longings. What if envy is a signal you have been sucked too deeply into the culture's story of what is important--in the case of American culture, the more money you have, the more important you are. What if envy is a gift--if you are just courageous enough to wrestle the gold from its sticky, grasping hands.
Jennifer Louden is a best-selling author of The Woman's Comfort Book, The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life and three other titles. You can visit her popular website at ComfortQueen.com where over 600 articles about self-care, an interactive Inner Organizer, and a wonderful CQ store await you. Jennifer also works with a few clients at a time as a life coach.