Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by @tatianaelizabethh
A good place to start is actually accepting that this happens a lot more often than you might think. Having the closest people to you feeling insecure about your achievements in comparison to theirs, is actually more common than we all like to admit.
According to psychologists, and this is very important to understand, people that compare themselves and feel jealous of their friends (and others) are usually very insecure, have low self-esteem and for the most part, have a very negative view of themselves and their lives. It’s easier for people that find themselves in those circumstances to get into a loop of comparing where they are with the ones closest to them and usually, if where they are, is not where they want to be, they’ll most likely covet and envy what the ones around have.
This is important to understand because we’ve all had or have, insecure moments, moments where we compare our ‘feeds’ and parts of our lives to someone else’s and sometimes that includes the people closest to us. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, or that your friend is a bad person, more than anything, it showcases the mental and emotional state of said friend or said person.
Certain situations can be harmless whist others can become really toxic and quite dramatic. Understanding it, doesn’t mean you have to enable or to let it pass, but it does mean that extending some grace might be a good place to start.
Is this something that you expect from your friends? No. But nothing in this life is black and white and also, it’s important to remember, your friends are human beings, just like you, we’re all imperfect and flawed and will disappoint one another at some point. You see why grace is a good place to start? You have to be kind and truly separate how you feel about the situation and what the person on the other side is going through in order to act or show up in your relationship in that way. You also have to dig deeper, what’s the level, is it harmless? Is it toxic? Does it go beyond not being happy with their lives or is this actually about them wanting yours in an unhealthy way? There are so many nuances and details that will determine how you deal with it but as a baseline, I’d consider these:
Don’t take it personally
Understand that you’re not the issue or the problem, you are the trigger to their issues and their problems. Read that again, you’re the trigger to their insecurities and their problems, being clear on that distinction can be so valuable in how you navigate the situation without letting it add additional stress and anxiety.
Talk about it
Ask. If there are people around you that you know are envious or jealous, ask them. Especially if you consider them friends, because if you are friends, no matter how uncomfortable it is, you will be able to have a conversation. Explain why you think that, how it makes you feel, and also, ask how they’re doing, check in on them. Are they happy with their life and their accomplishments? Are they feeling insecure? Go into that conversation separating the two and wanting to understand both sides and talk about it.
Just because you’re aware that this has nothing to do with you, and just because you understand, it doesn’t mean you have to enable or accept a continued and consistent behaviour of jealousy, envy, snarky comments or whatever your experience with this is. The ones closest to you, should only want and wish the best for you. So be clear on what you want from your relationships, address comments when they happen, set boundaries whenever you can and be vocal about what’s ok and what’s not. Let it be known.
Above all, know the difference. Know who is really your friend and who is not. Be gracious with the process of finding out and remember that yes, you’re on the receiving end, but there’s someone on the other side and until you know for sure what their intentions truly are, deal with it with grace, patience and kindness.
It’s the only way.