Envy and Autumn: Transitions, Infancy, & Older Age

Fruits Gathered, Leaves Falling; Self-relations Ripe for Self-reflection

Posted Sep 30, 2012

Autumn is the time of year when change is most apparent.

"Autumn," oil, 2015, F.J. Ninivaggi
Source: "Autumn," oil, 2015, F.J. Ninivaggi

Autumn is a cyclical time of year. The fruition of plants--fruits, vegetables, and flowers occurs. They fall whether by nature or people. Products of the plant world have strikingly attractive colors--yellows, oranges, and reds. Theses changes also excite emotions. Not only current feelings but memories of the past are evoked.

So, how does this relate to transitioning into older age?

The experience of implicit feelings of envy can simmer underneath. Cognitively, envy is marked by a stark awareness of contrasts: present-absent. Emotionally, envy brings up mixed feelings of attraction including admiration and a wish to have. Envy also triggers distress, disgust, and even spoiling so that the discrepancy of comparison and not having or loss goes away.

"Spoiling" here means devaluing (denying, dismissing, suppressing, or darkening) what one cannot have. It results in frustration and a subliminal state of feeling a loss. Envy as an attitude in the autumn might also involve wishing to regain (e.g., the spring or the summer of one’s life---); in other words, things past, fallen away.

Many have equated autumn with the ripening and decline linked with older age. The connection between "starts" and "endings" has developmental origins. As discussed in my book, Biomental Child Development: Perspectives on Psychology and Parenting, what happens in infancy and childhood maintains its genetic continuity into adulthood---nothing is ever lost or forgotten.

The style of managing emotions early in life influences how they are experienced in adult life--how they affect adult trajectories about relationships, work, and successful outcomes. That book details the earliest roots of observable visual, hand, and arm developments that show how "attachment and letting go" emerge, develop, and progress. It correlates the physical with the emotional side---what I call the "biomental."

"Biomental" qualities are two sides of one coin. Some interesting relationships are made, and these psychological implications offer valuable insights. The healthy maturation of envy is possible. This potential for transformation is relevant to remember since it has the potential to free one to encounter an array of mental changes: feel emotions of loss and non-possession, come to terms with acceptance rather than resentment, and then move on.

Autumn can become a time of reflection, reassessment, and forward progress. Often, late fall afternoons have a pleasant and equilibrating tone. Mild sunlight, even temperature, and quiet stillness become favorable to reflection on life--one's life and what it means--both individually and interpersonally.

Taking stock of one's life, empathy for change and hope for improvement offer incentives toward enhanced self-development.

Are your eyes open to seeing you?

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