Envy. It’s not just a new green shade of nail polish. Nor is it a fragrance commercial featuring slow motion beach scenes, and breathy voices that whisperrupt each other in a race to see who can moan the perfume name the most in 30 seconds.
Spelled another way, envy is “fit moms”, like Maria Kang for instance. Her website and photos have been all over the news under accusations of “fit shaming”. Facebook pulled her posts and closed her account temporarily, citing hate speech. The photo which has drawn the strongest criticism, is one in which she looks like a fitness model while raising 3 young kids. The headline above her head asks, “What’s your excuse?”
I watched a news interview where she defended herself against some of the widespread anger over her photos. A poll was quoted in which only 9% of women liked or approved of her as this busy, in-shape mom with a full time job. Those who disapprove of Maria have various definitions of fit shaming, such as:
1) She is showing off
2) She makes other women feel bad about themselves
3) She thinks women who are not as in shape are fat and lazy
Let’s create an imaginary woman, whose Easter Bunny name is Trixie Sprinkle Spanker. Despite her unfortunate name, she loves eating veggies, and likes to run and do yoga. Trixie’s best friend, whose name is Rainbow Peeps Thumper, loves to eat chocolate, and enjoys telling people that she only runs when chased. Both of them are happy and wouldn’t change a thing about their lifestyles.
But … what if they weren’t happy? Do they have to know who Maria Kang is before they decide they are unhappy with their own choices? Who is really “making” these women feel bad about themselves?
At this point you might be thinking, “Yeah well regardless of jobs and kids, who would not want to be as thin and toned as those women on magazine covers?” If you offered a magic pill to women that made their bodies look as if they spent as much time on diet and exercise as those fit moms, I’m sure many of them would down it on the spot.
Being attractive and in shape can’t be such a bad thing when it’s so universally pursued by many women and men. Yet when someone else has it, that person is called names and criticized.
Why? Because we humans tend toward feelings of jealousy when we see another person has something we want, and we do not. This is true whether the object is beauty, money, a job, a relationship, or anything at all that we put a high value on. Even animals get jealous. Cats, dogs, monkeys, we all know what it’s like to be on the wishing side of things.
Consider these scenarios:
1) If you win the lottery, are you a bad person?
2) If you meet your soul mate, are you a jerk because not everyone else has found one yet, and may never?
3) If you save money and buy a beautiful house, are you a bad person because you have a house that other people admire?
4) If you go to the gym every night after work no matter how tired you are, lose weight, put on your new size smaller dress and feel beautiful as you head out the door… do you deserve scorn and hatred from strangers or even your friends?
You see where I’m going with this. Other people are not to blame for having something we want. Nobody can make us feel bad about ourselves, we are doing that all on our own. When we compare ourselves to others, we are the only common denominator in the equations.
We are the ones making ourselves feel bad, by not living our lives in alignment with what we value.
Jealously is not the most pleasant feeling. I don’t know anyone who can say they really enjoy a good bout of caustic emotional flashbulb acidity. And what does it even do for us? It’s not getting us what we want, it just makes us feel crappy. So what do you do about it when that green-eyed monster flares up across the back of your retinas?
Here is the one benefit of envy. We can use it as a signal. It gently taps us on the shoulder, then smacks us in square in the face and shines a huge green spotlight on an area of our life in which we are dissatisfied. The more intense our feeling or reaction, the more highly we value whatever it is.
Stop for a minute when you feel that twinge of jealousy, and recognize that it’s just a fleeting thought. It is not who you are, nor does it define you as a person. Allow yourself to sit back and observe the feeling and thoughts that pop up, and ask this question; “Dear self, what is it I really want in this moment?”
Then, tell envy thanks for pointing you in the right direction, and LET IT GO.
Sit down with your silly Easter Bunny persona, and brainstorm ways to make your desires reality. Come up with a weight loss plan, start a grocery store speed-dating group, plant a garden, cover your shoes with glitter, or whatever makes you happy and moves you closer to what you want.
Life is too short to be unhappy.
Carpe Diem, Dammit!