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Envy as a Major Source of Anxiety and Discontent

If envious attitudes are inevitable, what can we do?

Yes, envious states of mind are inevitable!

If envious attitudes are inevitable, what can we do about them?

Envy Cloud, by Frank John Ninivaggi MD
Source: Envy Cloud, by Frank John Ninivaggi MD

First, there is benign envy, and then there is malignant envy.

The malignant forms of envy are typically deadly. Luckily, they are rare, nonconscious, out of mindful awareness, but cause a lot of trouble. This nonconscious envy is the underlying inclination to see everything as "all-black or all-white." It creates a divided self. A divided, incoherent sense of self shows up as anxiety, stress, unhappiness, stagnation, malcontent, anger, and poor performance. The end product is "burnout." Error, accidents, and disaster follow. The "burnout" syndrome results both at work and in everyday life. Happiness is hard to feel.

When we realize that our minds make these automatic comparisons---all the time, we are ready to rebalance.

Examples of inevitable mental comparisons are rich-poor, attractive-ugly, desirable-undesirable, "they have--I don't," and so forth. Trying to interrupt these dichotomies gives you the freedom to move forward. Moving forward opens new possibilities. Working with what one does have---and building on it---is the key to success!

"I have..." attitudes are winning attitudes.

Thinking in other than "either-or" ways broadens possibilities for success.

States of the previous malcontent can reconfigure into active motivational states. Motivation reinforces self-efficacy, a belief in empowerment to do something new and do it successfully. Success builds on what you already have.

Of course, one's values have to be constructive and health-promoting---not negative and self-sabotaging. And they can't be destructive toward others.

Following these suggestions enhances enthusiasm for self-improvement. It turns "envy into emulation" and constructive self-empowerment.

See more articles on tools to manage envy---"envy management skills"--- on this blog and in the author's books: "Envy Theory" (2010) and "Biomental Child Development" (2013) on

My latest book, "Making Sense of Emotion: Innovating Emotional Intelligence," (September 2017) offers practical ways to identify and optimize all emotions. This refreshing look brings well-being and mental health to new levels.

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