I recently found myself on Eugenie Bouchard’s twin sister’s Instagram page, wishing I was 20 and famous (did I just lose all cred in that first sentence?). Of course, a dozen or so clicks in, I woke up and realized my “research” was not contributing to a positive sense of self. A quick recount of my self-destructive spiral: See, I’m a big tennis fan/player, and Genie’s Canadian, so knowing nothing else, I decided to follow her on Twitter. Keep in mind I’ve only just learned Twitter. I’m not entirely sure how it works, or who to follow (or when to retweet and when to reply, etc. so any advice is appreciated), but Genie seemed like a good start.

Anyway, I see that she’s posted something profound (something along the lines of, “Heyyyy :)”), so I go to her feed to see if our Canadian pride and I would be friends if I were also famous. And then I see all these photos of her and her twin sister being all cute and fun and pretty, so I click on her sister (“Beatrice”) and end up on her Instagram page. Then I find myself wishing I had a sister so we could pose for cute sister-ly photos. Then I feel envious and wish I was a 20 year old professional athlete celebrity with a twin. And just like that, I felt like a complete and utter failure at life.

I’d actually been feeling great before all this went down, thus the scenario epitomized using social media negatively. I realized I was comparing myself, and in doing so felt threatened and competitive and anxious about being who I am and where I’m at. These feelings are kind of old and familiar for me–they come around far less often than they used to, but definitely still emerge in moments where I compare myself to attractive celebrity athletes or my ex’s perfect-seeming fiances. So, today I write how to cope with those feelings of competition/envy/insecurity that come up when we compare ourselves, and how to not let them get in the way of happiness, self-worth, and relationships.

 

First, let’s quickly go over a couple definitions. In the current psych literature, jealousy and envy are different. Jealousy is when you feel as though something you have is being threatened (e.g. I’m jealous Eugenie Bouchard because my boyfriend thinks she’s the bee’s knees), whereas envy is when someone else has something we want (e.g. I’m envious of Eugenie Bouchard’s fame and youth and forehand). Feeling threatened and competitive are often felt alongside envy and jealousy, as well. Really, all of those feelings are generally uncomfortable. But in case you care, those are the definitions (shout out to my fellow semantics fanatics).

 

1) Tell Yourself It’s OK to Feel the Feelings; It’s What We Do in Response to Them that Effs Shit Up

Envy can be a good thing to a certain extent. It’s helps guide us closer to what we want from ourselves and our lives, and it’s motivating. Jealousy can be good in that it shows we value our relationship or whatever it is that we have and don’t want to lose. So, as I preach most of the time, feeling these feelings is not the bad thing. However, these feelings can be made more difficult if you beat yourself up for feeling them (e.g. “I’m a crazy girlfriend and should be totally OK with my bf’s hot colleague texting him”), or if you allow them to get in the way of your relationships with others (e.g. I stopped hanging out with her because she’s conventionally attractive and I felt ugly in comparison.”), or with yourself (e.g. “I’m not as fun as Beatrice Bouchard, so I’m not good enough.”). So, notice your feelings of jealousy, envy, competition, and threat. Say Hello to them. Befriend them. Make space for them. They’re normal.

 

2) Think, “It Will Pass”

Good ol’ impermanence, eh? When are you going to shut up about that, one, Megan? I always come back to this one because it applies to EVERYTHING. Your feelings of envy/jealousy/competition will come and go. And come and go again. Be curious about them, be playfully skeptical, and trust that you don’t have to engage in whatever criminal behavior they might be suggesting.

3) Remember There’s Enough Room For All of Us

Feelings of envy and jealousy often develop under the assumption that resources are scarce. Think caveperson days: winter’s coming and there aren’t enough…Buffalo? to go around. Or child-bearing women (romantic, I know). Sometimes, in the case of a specific dude or job or one-of-a-kind item, there is some truth in that logic. But other times, there’s more than enough for everyone and my competition and I can both be successful at whatever it is we’re competing over (unless it’s Wimbledon, but sadly that’s irrelevant for me). Try to adopt more of an “in it together” mindset and remember (for most things) there’s enough room for all of us to be successful.

 

4) Imagine Your Competition/the Object of Your Envy/Jealousy on the Toilet:

I remember reading an article on Elephant Journal once about how when you have a crush on someone, you should picture them on the toilet. I actually used this with a guy I was really into who intimidated the sh*t outta me. It worked well–I suppose because it reminds us that we’re all imperfect humans who are vulnerable. So, not the exact same scenario, but it helps to remember your competition is human, too, and they’re not perfect and have their own struggles. Maybe they’ve had their heart broken, or have lost someone close to them, or are struggling with depression. This helps us cultivate empathy, which can can help us find compassion for them, and thus evaporate some of those feelings of competition. I’m sure Eugenie Bouchard (and her sister) have their own struggles. And go to the bathroom.

 

5) Know That Envy and Jealousy Often Lie To Us: 

Envy likes to tell us that we’ll be happy if we have what someone else has or are were born into a different body. It’s kind of like perfectionism, which tells us we’ll be happy if we achieve or produce. But the thing is, we probably won’t, because there’s always another accomplishment or item or experience to crave. Envy, my friends, is a hungry ghost. Similarly, jealousy tells us our relationship will be better if we “off” the competition. But there will always be another relationship threat or crush, and controlling your partner’s actions is not a sustainable solution and will cause you a great deal of energy and anxiety. For more from me on jealousy in relationships, read this.

 

6) Ask Yourself, Is Envy/Jealousy/Competitiveness Serving You?

You know how I’ve talked about productive guilt? There’s such thing as productive or unproductive envy, jealousy, and competitiveness as well. Think about it. It might be productive to envy someone’s promotion if it motivates you to be harder-working. However, it’s probably not productive to envy someone’s height or engagement story if it just makes you feel like crap about yourself. It’s not productive if your “competitive spirit” is causing you to go 180km/hr because you can’t let a Sunfire pass you. It’s not productive if envy is preventing you from being authentic with your friends, or from expressing your vulnerabilities with your partner. Ask yourself what envy, jealousy, and competition are doing for you. If they’re motivating and inspiring, great. If they leave us feeling like we want to work on certain parts of ourselves and bulk up our assets here and there, awesome. But if they leave us feeling like we’re just a shitty person overall, it’s probably not doing much for us. In the latter case, it might be better to stop following Eugenie or that person on your feed who always seems to be succeeding at things.

 

7) Consider, Is this Envy or Admiration?

Lastly, I like to look inside at my envy and try to transform it into admiration. This isn’t always easy or possible, but sometimes, if I go through the other steps and feel secure enough in myself, I’m able to take a step back and feel true admiration and respect for the individual I envy. Usually, they’ve worked hard to be where they are. They’ve set the bar high. They’ve overcome their own obstacles. They’re maybe actually pretty awesome, and that’s why I envy them so much. Easier said than done, I know. If it doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up, but worth a try.

—————————————————————————————————————–

 

Finally, keep in mind that they’re unique them and you’re unique you. Even twin sisters have differing strengths and weaknesses (e.g. court-coverage vs. boho-style). You are who you are and have what you have because of a chaotic constellation of factors over which you’ve had and continue to have little control (isn’t that an inspiring thought!). At the end of the day, wishing you’re them isn’t going to make you wake up in their body (hence it being a relatively successful movie plot several times over). So step away from the social media, make space for your imperfections, give yourself some credit for being you, and remember we’re all in this together. Godspeed, Bouchard sisters.

 

Advertisements