From Envy to Admiration: When She’s Got What You Want

image from Allposters

This post was originally published November 5, 2008.

She’s got a nicer house than you.

She’s skinnier after having a baby than you were before you ever got pregnant.

She’s better organized.

She’s got a great job, and you’re “just” ________________. (fill in the blank.)

And on and on and on. Chances are you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else and thinking that you come up short. I know I do.

In fact, as my mother and my sisters will testify, I am fiercely competitive. Combine that with a perfectionist mentality and, well, let’s say that my teen years weren’t all that pleasant for those around me.

Thankfully, I’ve grown a little in the last twenty years. But, while I may know more self-control, I still have twinges of envy when I see someone else doing something “better” than me. It can take awhile to talk myself out of envying this other person. And I really do have to lecture myself from time to time.

Some things to Consider if You Find Yourself in a Similar Place:

1. Don’t compare your insides to her outsides. You have no idea what struggles she has or what obstacles she’s had to overcome to achieve her success, or what you perceive as her success. Many times we compare ourselves to an inaccurate picture of reality.

2. Remember to find your own groove. For years I struggled with the fact that my sister Jamie is Ultra-Creative, Talented, and Never Looks Frumpy. I wanted to be all those things, but they take a lot more work for me than for her. God gifted her in other ways than He did me. But, thankfully, He gave her to me — to help me!

3. There’s plenty to go around. Unless we’re talking about the presidency or someone else’s husband, there really isn’t a limit to what we can achieve. My sister can be creative and so can I. It’s not as if there’s a limit to the amount of blessings God can give, and Jamie got all the artistic talent. I can grow and learn in the areas where I am weak. We all can.

4. Learn from her. Take that jealousy and knock it to the ground. If you find yourself envying the woman with the great organization skills, ask her if she can teach you some of her best tips. Strive to develop a friendship, not a competition.

5. Rejoice with those who rejoice! If something good comes her way, congratulate her. It may take a little work to swallow your pride, but in the end, you’ll feel better if you can walk alongside her, rather than spitting at her as she passes by.

6. Admiring her strengths doesn’t make you less of a person. Somehow we can think that to admire a peer means we become the low man on the totem pole. That is not so! We all are gifted in different ways. And that’s a good thing.

It may take a little retraining our brains and hearts, but I think we can turn our envy into honest, wholesome admiration.

Do you ever struggle with envy? What do you do when you find yourself pining for what she has that you want?

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Comments

  1. Mama Llama says:

    Unfortunately, my mom is a very envious, jealous person. Her example has made a deep impression on me, for as long as I can remember. Whenever I feel even a tinge of envy, I remember how my mom's attitude turned her into a bitter, unlikeable person. That usually changes my perspective very quickly!

    As you suggested, I try to be happy for other people instead of envying their good fortune or talent or other gifts. Counting my own blessings reminds me that I have so much to be thankful for.

  2. Right there with you in the "teen years weren't all that pleasant for those around me"! I am definitely a perfectionist, but I believe (and hope!) that I have grown in this area over the past several years. Thank you for being willing to share your struggle; it's good to know that others have gone and are going through the same waters!

  3. Great thoughts. I struggle with comparing myself to others, which I know is not a good thing to do!

    When I catch myself seeing someone with the physique I want and thinking, "I wish I had her body" (and I'm not even striving for "hot" — just 30 pounds smaller!), I have to stop and evaluate: If we really swapped bodies, would I end up with a whole new set of problems? Does she have cancer? Bulimia? Aches and pains? I don't know what's going on in her body, and I really don't want her body.

  4. I have that problem too. I have to remember that you don't see everything. There are probably things that person struggles with too or other weaknesses.

  5. Thank you for your encouraging words! This post is full of great reminders!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I was so great to read this – more for the relief. My mother for years and years has caused me more grief than I care to remember. It has had a deep-set impact on my life in many negative ways and at times I feel like I'm turning into her. She is incapable of having a regular conversation and everything is a drama, and if it's not about her, she soon enough turns the conversation on a dime and makes it about her. I have moved overseas and work in several countries, which I find gives me relief from having to keep any stead contact, which is more draining than not. Even being overseas, she still manages to be the same and I am slowly and painfully realising she will never change. She can keep her drama and manipulative ways to herself and I am learning to let go. Rather than continue to question myself and feel completely unworthy, I try to surround myself with people who value me. It's new and good companionship feels strange, different but incredible and something I'm really learning to cherish.

  7. Averyswife says:

    Wow, it's funny that you re-posted this today…my husband and I were just having a discussion about this very topic this morning. I definitely struggle with comparing myself to other women and I always come up short. It's frustrating because there needs to be a balance between wanting to better ourselves and wanting to be as good as so-and-so.

  8. I have homecoming envy in a big way of women who get their husbands home from overseas before I do. :| I struggle with that more than anything else. I don't know if that's exactly the same, it's not a hot bod, or a car or job… But I definitely do feel myself getting pretty bitter about it some days.

  9. Thanks for this post, I think I needed to read this today, I am constantly comparing myself to others or wishing my life was like others and you are right, I have no idea what is going on inside themselves and their private lives and it might be no better than mine or even worse. I need to stop doing this and just live my life for myself as I am and only worry about myself

  10. Andrea @ The Train to Crazy says:

    Great post! I wouldn't say I struggle that much with envy but I do have my moments! Thanks for the wonderful reminders

  11. You've described me to a "T" in this post. I struggle with envy and trying not to judge others – usually determining I don't like them because they are "better than me" in some way I perceive. Reminding myself that our exteriors do not lend themselves to what lies beneath helps. Thanks for the reminders!

  12. Thank you! I need these reminders often, even though God has given me grace to grow even in this area over the years. I often have to remind myself of the verse 'but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, ARE NOT WISE. '
    Men have their own battles to battle, but this is certainly one that I believe is ours, as woman.

  13. Thank you so much for this repost today! I have found myself falling into this trap again lately. It's funny how we as women focus on what other women have instead of building each other up. I think this post is a great reminder for us all.

  14. Oh, isn't it easy for us females to be so critical of ourselves. I really like the little saying, and I have to remind myself of it frequently, "I may not be perfect, but Jesus thinks I am to die for."

  15. A great reminder and encouragement. I choose not to be envious of all you ladies who do NOT have to live through an Alaskan winter! :)

  16. This was REALLY tough to read, because honestly until the past year I did not realize that this is something that is a real struggle for so many ladies. I have spent my adult life OFTEN on the receiving end of the effects of another’s envious attitude, with no understanding of how I was being treated or spoken to other than that this was painful for my heart. Then I’d try to do all kinds of things to be loving toward that person, and end up being treated even worse, as she was then comparing not only specific things about me, but also comparing my responses to what she did or would have done in a similar situation. This is anything but pleasant!! So this has been on my mind quite a bit, and what I see is a lack of gratitude at the root. When you’re overflowing with gratitude and joy to the Creator for what He has graciously chosen to allow in your life (whether good or ill – the struggles often are gifts in disguise) there is not room for envy and striving, and the fruit of the spirit can then be manifest – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Envy has a hard time walking with joy and peace! Christ DOES have the power to set you free of this trap of the Adversary – just ask Him.

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

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