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Updated: Oct 9, 2021

August 22, 2012. Written by Leila Ruth Novales.


The Green-Eyed Monster

Envy. Also known as jealousy.  Commonly referred to as the green-eyed monster.  We all have, I’m sure, at one point or the other, come face to face with this green-eyed monster -– either as recipients of its rage or as its host, unconsciously feeding and fueling it as it grows, its tentacles reaching into every nook and cranny of our being.

We have always been taught that envy is not a good emotion and should not be encouraged. But we cannot always avoid feeling envious. And, I learned recently, envy can actually be useful if you use it to know yourself better.  It is especially useful if you are an introvert.

According to Quiet, the book I’m currently reading (see my previous post), introverts usually find social events overly stimulating and leaves them feeling drained of energy. However, we live in a very social world, and our many interests and career paths often require a lot of socializing.  Some introverts are able to manage having careers that require a lot of socializing and becoming involved in overwhelming activities by acting like extroverts.  However, not all of them become successful at what they do.  It seems that the introverts who put on a new character when walking down their career path and become successful are those that are in a field that they are passionate about.  They deeply care about what they do, and even if it means having to go outside their comfort zone, they do it because it matters deeply to them.  Susan Cain, the author of Quiet, calls this core personal projects.

So, if you’re an introvert, the key is to find out what your core personal projects are.  And here’s where envy comes in.

According to the author, Susan Cain, there are three ways to find out what your core personal projects are. The first two are something that most of us would already be familiar with:

1.  “First, think back to what you loved to do when you were a child. How did you answer the question of what you wanted to be when you grow up?”

2. “Second, pay attention to the work you gravitate to.”  Try to take note what kind of activities you enjoy doing or you always feel like you’d like to sign up or volunteer for.

3.  And this is what struck me the most:  “Finally, pay attention to what you envy.  Jealousy is an ugly emotion but it tells the truth.You mostly envy those who have what you desire.”  

So, think about the people you envy.  What is it you envy about them?  Their work?  Their lifestyles? The values or impact of their work? Their possessions?  Try to pinpoint what it exactly it is.  More often than not, it will be their lifestyle or the work they do. We find ourselves saying, “I wish I were like that,” or “I wish my work was something like that.”

I remember when I first came across Kindermusik, a music and movement program for children 0 to 7 years old that originated in Germany.  It was during a workshop for kindergarten teachers on ideas for circle time.  I was so drawn to the woman who was conducting the workshop and to the whole program.  I remember thinking, “I wish I had learned about this a long time ago.  I would have gone into it.”  At the end of the workshop, I approached the trainer and spoke with her.  A year later, I joined her as a Licensed Kindermusik Educator, happily teaching Kindermusik during my summer breaks and on Saturdays during the school year (while continuing with my full time job as a Montessori teacher).  Now, I am managing the Kindermusik program of our school, and I find a lot of fulfillment in it -– in helping train the teachers and giving them much-needed support -– even if it means I have to talk and go in front of many people to train them.

So…Envy.  Like I said, it’s not all that bad.  Rather than letting it fester inside you, use it to better yourself.



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