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Often we falsely compare ourselves to others rather than being content with what we do have. And this negative side of envy might stir our malicious intent toward the other – wanting to bring them down as a way to feel better about our own perceived lack. But the positive side of envy stirs our motivation to become a better version of ourselves.

Initially, envy is the experience of simply witnessing someone better off than we are in a particular way. It exposes our perceived lack and their superiority.

But even in assuming there’s an actual discrepancy here, we still have a choice in how we respond to this experience.

And, of course, it’s all too easy to slide into its negative expressions. Envy here fuels our heart of bitterness toward the other as we struggle to tolerate their good fortune without also rooting for their downfall.

But we can also choose to embrace its positive side by letting envy motivate us to become better.

There’s still that initial sting and shame of our own inferiority. But now upon self-reflection the object of envy becomes one of inspiration. We see what’s possible and we’re now encouraged to seek this out for ourselves.

For instance, when we see others who are fit, healthy, and in shape, we can let our insecurities get the best of us, or we can let them inspire us to do the same for ourselves.

As others succeed in business, sports, money or the like, we can let their stories remind us of what’s possible, even when our path and particulars look different.

Likewise, we don’t have to grow hateful toward those with thriving marriages or solid and deep friendships. We can continue to fight for these things ourselves.

While we often have to grieve what we don’t have, at it’s best, envy invites us to explore and pursue the better that is still possible.

In the end, don’t let the bitter sting of envy take you out. Rather let it challenge and inspire you to become a better version of yourself.

Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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