David Strittmatter

Envy – how to deal with it

True confidence has no room for envy. When you know you are great, you have no reason to hate.


  • Envy is the desire to obtain a desirable thing that belongs to another person
  • We don’t want more than others have, but we are often disturbed by obtaining less than them
  • All of us feel envy: this sense of inferiority to another person is unavoidable

Practical advice:

  • Examine your envy
  • Ask yourself: Are you willing to pay the price?
  • Go & get it or accept it!

Dear friend,

Do you know that feeling when someone has/does something that you want to have/do as well?

In the past, I often felt envy for a lot of people and things. I envied them not because I didn’t want them to obtain or achieve something but because I didn’t have it by myself. The realization that someone has something desirable that I could obtain as well immediately triggered a great sense of inferiority towards this person. I felt really bad then.

Today, I have mastered my emotions. You cannot really get rid of envy completely, but you can reduce its negative influence on your life to a minimum. In today’s blog post, I write about my experiences in coping with this emotion, how I usually deal with it, and how you can reduce the effect of envy, too.

What is envy & why do we feel envy?

To put it simply, envy is the desire to have a quality, a possession, or another desirable thing that belongs to another person. For instance, you envy your friend’s well-shaped body or your sister who is about to go on an awesome trip.

Typically, we feel envy not because we don’t want others to have something but because we cannot have it by ourselves. We don’t want more than others have, but we are often disturbed by obtaining less than them.

All of us feel envy. This sense of inferiority to another person is unavoidable. From an evolutionary perspective, this is reasonable. Envy motivates us to strive to take what another person possesses, achieve it for ourselves, or better it. All these impulses seem pretty good ones when it comes to guaranteeing the survival and evolution of early humans fighting for resources.

How to deal with envy

First and foremost, there is no way to get rid of envy entirely. As we mature, gain wisdom from our experiences, and work on ourselves, though, we can develop ways of coping with its inevitable presence and letting it play its role in our lives without disturbing us.

Ultimately, we are all responsible for our feelings and need to discover how best to regulate them. The first step to manage envy (or any other emotion) is to recognize that you’re responsible for it. From the moment you read this sentence, you need to accept that you’ve full responsibility for your feelings and to stop blaming others for your well-being.

The person who is responsible and accountable has the power to change. Be that person and take responsibility.

Examine your emotions

Whenever I feel envy, I immediately ask myself: Why do I feel envy? I try to explore the origin of this emotion as thoroughly as possible: What do I envy? What exactly is it? And why?

For instance, I was always feeling envy when I was a teenager and saw people on the internet, in magazines, or on TV that had a muscular, well-shaped body. However, I didn’t really know why I envied them: Was it their aesthetics? Was it the attention and looks they received? Was it their self-confidence they radiated?

It’s vital to investigate the underlying reasons of your emotions to be able to influence them. A great way to dive deep into your inner feelings is to use your imagination. Think about how it feels when you obtain whatever you desire at this very moment. What emotions does it trigger in you? Are you happier now? Do you feel the same? Is it really that great?

In my case, it really felt great and I exactly knew why: I didn’t care about the attention or looks of others, but I wanted to live in such an athletic body, too. I loved the imagination to have larger muscles and a lean body.

Are you willing to pay the price?

Applying the aforementioned method helps us to fathom the reasons why we desire something. However, nothing in life comes without a catch. It might seem awesome to have a muscular body, but no one really wants to acknowledge all the hours spent in the gym, the amount of food eaten, and the sacrifices brought to maintain it. The same goes for the majority of things we crave: perfect grades in school, a high level of confidence, great humor, amazing drawing skills, a strong singing voice, attractive styles, etc.

Many things that we desire come at a price. Thus, you should always ask yourself what it took the person you envy to obtain whatever you desire. Most often, you’ll find out that you aren’t willing to experience the drawbacks of something even though the positive aspects seem great at first. Then, accept the things as they are: If you really want to have something, you need to be willing to work hard for it. And if you don’t want to put in the work, you need to accept the situation as it is.

Go and get it or accept it!

But what if there’re no downsides of something you desire but you cannot obtain or achieve it? Or what if you can achieve something and are willing to pay the price for it?

The former is quite bad. You cannot do anything about it. The only way to cope with this is to accept it the way it is.

You think you’re too small and want to be taller? Sorry, but there’re things in life we just have to accept. There is no real remedy to this. But that’s life. A great way to handle such a situation is to exercise gratitude: Focus on the things you’ve and you’re grateful for. In this world, there’re infinite things you cannot obtain, but there’re also infinite things you can be grateful for. Focus on the brighter side of life and accept the things you cannot change.

However, if you can achieve something and you’re willing to work to obtain it, you need to take action. Whenever I envy something or someone and I decided for myself that I want to obtain it as well, I immediately devise a plan and take the first steps.

The only way to get rid of envy, in this case, is to obtain whatever you crave. Unless you take action, you’ll always feel envy once you encounter a situation triggering your desire.

Find out what you really want, devise a strategy on how you can obtain it, and take immediate action.

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