Two Types of Envy

Some people say envy is a good thing. Julia Cameron calls envy “a beacon” because it shows you where you want to go.

Sure, there can be that element to it, but more often, envy feels like this: “You are living my life, motherfucker!”
That is what I call Comparative Envy.

For years, I couldn’t see anything with Meryl Streep in it. It reminded me too much of what I hadn’t accomplished. And for whatever grandiose reasons, I felt like life owed me and had cheated me out of so much.

Comparative Envy can be useful for what it reveals to us about our thinking, but for the most part, it is not a constructive point of focus.

There is another type of envy I call Eroticized Envy. Eroticized Envy is fun, addictive, and a massive distraction rooted in self-rejection. It is the experience of becoming obsessed with someone who embodies whomever it is you’d like to be, and this embodiment is amplified by a great deal of charisma.

It could be someone famous, or it could be the friend of a friend. You start trolling them online because you want to know everything about them. Eroticism is about connection, and what you desire is to get inside that person’s skin. To become them. That desire’s fulfillment seems as though it would be a shortcut to success. It’s a lot of fun but, but again, it is not a constructive point of focus.

The antidote to both types of envy is the experience of “enoughness.” While the object of your envy has whatever it is they have, you can only use it as a beacon to the degree that you can say, okay they did that, that’s them doing that. I’m not them. So what can I do? Who am I, what is my version of what I think they have?

Once I realized I’d never be Meryl Streep, I actually started to have a bit of a career. Because I learned to be enough as myself.

That is the idea behind “enoughness.”


So what do you think? Does this breakdown of envy seem useful to you? If so how? What questions or thoughts do you have about envy? I’d love to hear what you think.

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