I used to be exceedingly jealous of people who were not disabled like I was.
I would repeatedly catch myself thinking, “If only I was like them I would go for my goals and dreams wholeheartedly. It’s all so UNFAIR! I’m too tragically flawed to even attempt to go for what I want in life.”
Do you ever determine the amount of effort you put towards your dreams by looking at someone else’s level of success and telling yourself, “I CAN’T do that, so WHY EVEN TRY?”
During this time, I would habitually minimize the value of other people’s achievements in my mind by telling myself things like–as you read this list, picture me saying these things to myself in a speech impediment-y, super whiny voice:
“I know their success is NOT as joyful and rewarding as it seems to be.”
“Sure, they might be successful, but look at how hard they have to work and how stressed out they are all the time.”
“It ISN’T FAIR that THEY are SO MUCH MORE SUCCESSFUL than me.”
“It’s ONLY because they have all the advantages I LACK!!!”
“I COULD do that if I really wanted to.”
– Jealous Jason
Have you heard similar mental chatter?
Nothing against mental chatter. Our minds are designed to chat with us. AND chat with us they do, often INCESSANTLY. On a positive note, all that chatter is a good sign…at the very least, it means our brains have something in them.
The difficulty with poison envy isn’t a little mental chatter every now and then that wants what other people have yet minimizes their success in order to justify not having it. The problem comes when these thoughts are held onto with a vice-grip-tight-hold, and the mental chatter turns from a whisper into a scream.
Why mental screams of jealousy can be so crippling
A mental scream is about as relaxing as a car alarm and if left to run amok can tragically blind us to our purpose and values. Debasing the achievements of others is obviously unkind and unsupportive, but, jealousy approaches the success of others from a place of fear. It surmises that if others are successful, it means that there is less success to be had by the rest of us. Thus, it will be harder for me to find success.
Being jealous and reductive of other people’s success won’t make you, or I, ONE IOTA more successful. In fact, jealousy and demeaning others success is a distraction, a HUGE DISTRACTION from taking our own steps forward towards our goals and dreams and it makes us miserable to boot.
Like a dog chasing it’s tail
As a task, being jealous and minimizing others achievements is like a cute dog chasing its tail.
The tail will always be there for the dog to chase until he:
a. bites his tail off
c. figures out that chasing his tail isn’t getting him where he wants to go
The main victim in all this
It doesn’t hurt Richard Branson if you or I are jealous of him and keep reciting all the reasons why we imagine he’s successful and we’re not to our mind.
The main victim is never the people we are jealous of or whose success we devalue. They don’t hear our mental screams. WE DO! Yes, the main victim is ourselves because we become blind to not only the magnificence of who we are but who we are capable of becoming.
The road to recovery
Having shed my tendency to waste energy distracting myself by focusing on others successes, I have much more time to focus on ACTUALLY TRYING TO LIVE MY LIFE and discover my own imperfect best pathway to success.
There may not be a magical cure to eliminate jealous and demeaning mental chatter, but there are a few things we can do to minimize the effect it has on our precious lives:
1- Notice when jealous and demeaning mental chatter has arisen.
2- Accept that such chatter and the feelings associated are natural BUT that it is a choice to pursue them further.
3- Refocus your efforts on cherishing who you are. Even if you don’t feel productive, look behind yourself for a minute and acknowledge the path and events that have gotten you here. Hold a little gratitude for them, don’t continue to overlook them.
4- Without overthinking it, decide on one small step that points in the direction of your goals and dreams AND take that step.
5- Don’t stop with the one.
May your imperfect best journey be rewarding in ways unimaginable to you now. May you find joy in place of jealousy.
JASON FREEMAN is a Professional Speaker and the proud owner of a Speech Impediment. He is also the author of “Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best” and a Perseverance Coach.
He excites and encourages his audience to break through the barriers of their own limitations using a method he created, called “doing your Imperfect Best ™”.
His Imperfect TEDx Talk can be viewed here.