ENVY – THE ULCER OF THE SOUL

Date posted: July 11, 2008


"Are you comparing me to Marwa Rakha?" exclaimed a female writer in a casual chat with a blogger friend of mine using her usual flippant wit that I used to admire when I first got to know her. I will not get into the details of what could have prompted her bile; I will just pause for a few minutes and try to analyze how women – as opposed to men – behave when jealousy strikes them. Being the descendant of the caveman, when a man is jealous or envious of another man, he would get himself a prettier wife, bulkier muscles, more kids, a bigger home, or a fancier car; but when a woman covets what another woman has, there are so many ways to go about it.

Let me share with you the categories that I created for fe-mail spite. (I am the Egyptian Fe-mail after all)

The Baton

This is the most basic prototype of the envious female. As a little girl, she would grab your cute Barbie doll, tear her hair and clothes, break her neck, and throw it back in your face – just because she does not have one or because yours is prettier than hers.

As a grown up she would not attempt to hide her hatred towards you; she would tell you directly that your dress, your face, your body, your daughter, your husband, or your job is too revealing, too ugly, too fat, too lame, or too dull. Like a baton, she will just smash your self esteem – if you let her.

The Baton is blessed with courage and she prides herself on being straightforward, outspoken, and fearless. "I looked her in the eye and told her that I absolutely hated her outfit … what was she thinking?"

Dealing with her: Ignore her comments. Have self confidence. Be thankful for what you have. If you are down … avoid her.

The Smooth Operator

This model is the extreme opposite of the previous one; she would do her best to earn your trust and friendship then, like cancer, the smooth operator will grow on you. She takes the form of your best friend or your confidant, and with soft skilled well-aimed blows she will slowly but surely convince you that you are not worthy of living or that you are a mess and you should die. Bit by bit her poison will take effect and you will begin stumbling, falling, crawling, and she will be the first to run to your rescue. She would take your hand and walk you to the edge then wonder why you jumped.

To be more visual here, think of a snake gliding smoothly between the bushes making no noise but its gentle hissing sound catching you off guard and, when you least expect it, you get stung. "I do not know why she did that. I warned her. I know she looks bad now but I will never abandon her … I will always be her friend" Hissing
Dealing with her: Use your brains … listen but use your common sense and judgment … and do not let despair get a hold of you.
The Thorn

She is everything you would want in a friend; supportive, complementing, understanding, caring, and fun. She is your pretty reflection when you are looking but once you give her your back, she turns into a thorn in your back. Using her insider information about you and our life, she will backstab you when and wherever possible. Bad-mouthing you is only the beginning of what she is capable of.

The thorn is neither brave enough to face you nor does she hate you enough to kill you. Her cowardly attributes and lack of audacity and forwardness make her a perfect rat.

Dealing with her: Once you have depicted a thorn in your life … pluck it out before it kills you.
The Evil Eye

This poor soul cannot help herself; she is so yellow with envy that her negative energy works like some form of an invisible beam to immediately destroy the object of her desire. Your lovely pearl necklace will fall apart, your kids will fall ill, your husband will fall out of love with you, and her effect is renewable and almost irreversible no matter how many blue beads you wear.

By experience, people get to know of her secret powers and resent her. She ends up being lonely and alienated and is always searching for a fresh start within groups of women who do not know her.

Dealing with her: Although she cannot help it, she is still bad for you. Try not to show her anything worthy of her evil eye.
Miss Haughty Haughty

She hates your guts because no matter how hard she tried, she will never be you. It is a love-hate relationship only that the hate aspect is predominant. Miss Haughty will never admit that you occupy the slightest tiniest spot in her busy-with-more-important-things brain. She is too proud to admit her jealousy and too stupid to get over it.

She would keep track of all your news because she wants to be updated. She would follow you everywhere because she does not want to miss seeing you fall. When someone brings you up in casual conversation, she would shrug her shoulders and look oblivious as she says "Who? Who's that?"

Dealing with her: Laugh … as loud as you can..

The Competitive Freak

"I will beat you at your own game" said the competitive freak. No matter how hard you try to lead a peaceful stress-free life, this woman will erupt whenever you show signs of success and tries to outsmart you. For example, you took salsa classes because you enjoy dancing, even if she hated dancing and had no time for classes, she would make sure that she enrolls, practices, and gets praised for being better.

When she is driving, she gets a kick out of racing every single car on the road. If you want to imagine her at school, she would be that girl that always befriends A students – not because she is like them, but rather because she is stretching her limits to compete with them.

Dealing with her: If you have a competitive streak yourself, this could be a very productive encounter … the competition will push you higher. If you do not care, then just let her have her way and you go your way.

The Bully
This woman is strong, tough, and admirable. Life, in her eyes, is a war and you cannot enjoy winning unless there are losers. She has never heard of win-win situations and her life is very similar to the windmill fighter who imagines everyone around an enemy and every word to be part of an evil plot. Her envy is not based on coveting what you have, it is more of a belief that you do not deserve having anything and she is fully entitled to strip you off any of your possessions.

As a little girl she used to bully other girls at school and take their sandwiches and candy. As a teenager, she stole their boyfriends, and as an adult she feels that she is always right and just.

"Nice shirt"
"Thank you"
"It will look better on me; I will take it"
"Nice boyfriend"
"Thank you"
"He is no longer yours!"

Dealing with her: Do not let her get to you … she is nothing but a confident fa?ade … deep down there is nothing but fear and weakness … call her bluff … say no … fight for what is yours.

The Nosy Cat

This cat is cute and caring; she would ask you all sorts of questions about your life, husband, home, kids, vacations, accessories, job, and what have you. She sound genuinely interested in you and in every thing you have to say – do not let her fool you. In her head there is a huge spreadsheet comparing you and your life versus her and her life. She will not covet you in public, will not try to belittle your possessions, will not try to rob you of them, will not bad mouth you, but she will just suffer in silence of the ulcer eating at her soul.

As a little girl she had zero confrontation skills and almost no friends because everyone thought she was odd and too nosy. When she grew up a bit she polished her social skills and learnt how to put on the good-keen-friend face.

"I bought a home"
"Where? When? Why? How? How much? When are you moving? Brilliant … do you need help?"
"Thanks sweetness"
"No problem … Tell me more"

Dealing with her: If you have a sadistic streak, feed her curiosity and let her flames eat her games. If you fear her envy, stop sharing. Once you feel she is too interested or too excited change the topic or end it.

The Copycat

I almost feel sorry for this one; she is always under the impression that she will miss out on life. She is insecure but harmless and she embodies envy in its most pathetic form. At school she was the little girl with no identity. She would rip off anything she liked about another girl; hairdo, accessories, way of talking, and even dreams.

She aims to please and usually uses whatever God-given assets to bribe people into liking her. To avoid any criticism she intentionally makes fun of herself so that people would be less harsh when they judge her. When the copycat grew up, her mind almost works like this: You got engaged … me too. You got a job … me too. You got pregnant … me too. You wrote a book … me too!

Dealing with her: Sit back and enjoy the freak show.
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Socrates said that envy is the ulcer of the soul; it eats away your peace of mind and causes you numerous pains and ailments. Aristotle defined envy as the pain caused by the good fortune of others, while Kant defined it as a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another's because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others – In plain English we miss seeing who we are because we are always comparing notes with others.

Some people colored envy in yellow; the color of bile and jealousy. Others colored it in green; the color of fungus and decay. It is only human to feel competitive and it is only natural to want the best for yourself and your family but it is a sin – literally – to become resentful towards a person for having more money, better career, more valuable possessions, or for being anything that you are not. Quoting Wikipedia, in Christian church, the book of Exodus (20:17) states: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; neither shalt thou desire his wife, nor his servant, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass (donkey), nor any thing that is his."

Three questions need to be answered; first if I am guilty of envy how do I overcome it or control it? Getting rid of a bad habit is easier than getting over your envy of someone. It is all about self-checks. No one could see what goes on in your heart and very few could read your mind; therefore, no one other than yourself could control the spiteful vibes. Once you feel that familiar bitterness, stop and remind yourself of the good things in your life that many people were deprived of. Remind yourself that no one has it all and that if you do not begin thanking God for his blessings, they are bound to perish. Also remember to be yourself and there is no need to follow someone else's tracks because it will only distract you from your own path.

The second question is, if I know that a particular person is envious of you, how do you deal with her? All textbooks agreed that you should ignore that person. Do not waste your time and energy on an everyday pathological psycho. Some books also would advise you to avoid crossing paths with such a person – specially if she is the evil eye type. By all means, do not rub it in her face … do not infuriate the green bilious – as in full of bile – monster. She is just disgusting and pathetic … let her eat herself up with envy.

Third point, you must be wondering about me … where do I fit in? most of you who know me in person could easily categorize me but for those of you who do not know me, let me start by reminding you all that we are all guilty of envy and jealousy. We are all familiar with the feeling. What sets us – healthy people – apart from the envious stereotypes above? We have lives and we have every intention to live them to the fullest. So knowing that I am The Competitive Freak I keep reminding myself of slowing down, enjoying the ride, and of being happy with the birds at hand rather than the crows on the trees.

Finally, I wish you a peaceful envy-free life that is void of the shades of yellow and green.

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