What other emotion can make us want what others have and drive us to accumulate debt as fast envy can?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines envy as a feeling of discontentment, resentment or longing aroused by someone else’s fortune or luck and is characterized by displeasure in ourselves and our possessions.
How Envy Affects behavior
Is it possible that we feel envy because our minds are naturally geared towards competition?
A controversial study by Takahashi in 2003 found that the part of the brain that processes envy is the same part that processes physical pain and pleasure.
We feel physical pleasure when someone we envy experiences a setback
The root cause of envy is the belief that what we have isn’t good enough or that we ourselves aren’t good enough.
Envy leads to increased debt, increased consumption and increased income.
How envy affects financial behavior
1. Increased debt from keeping up with the Jones’
You secretly compete with your friends and spend money you don’t have to keep up appearances.
2. Bad investments with finances
In your zeal to keep up appearances you can take on more risk than is advisable, which leads to bad financial investments.
3. Gambling or get rich quick schemes
Increased debt, desperation and the need to accumulate things you can’t afford leads you to rely on lady luck.
4. Unethical behavior
You overcharge for services, steal or engage in unethical behaviour in order to support your extravagant life style.
Because your identity is so tied to other people, what you own vs what they own, loss of money, leads to loss of self-esteem, which leads to feelings of worthlessness and depression, which affects your ability to generate income.
6. Taking constructive financial action
We all know people who looked at their wealthy neighbour and thought, I want that.
You think - I want what they have and take constructive financial action like building a company to get it.
How to Overcome Envy
1. Start being aware of why you buy things
If you buy things or suddenly want things because others have them then you’re envious. Contemplate your purchases and make sure that you’re acting from a true desire to own the item or from a desire to acquire self-esteem.
2. Work on your self-esteem
When we’re self-confident, we can sell water to a well just by using our abilities but when we lack self-esteem, everything and everyone is intimidating.
I suggest writing down a weekly list of things that are going well in your life. Being able to see your successes on paper will help build your confidence.
I also suggest reprogramming your mind by using affirmations.
A few years ago I started reciting this affirmation to myself in the mirror every morning to build my self-esteem:
“I’m a woman of unlimited self-esteem and I give myself permission to be powerful, beautiful, radiant, powerful and wealthy”
3. Practice daily gratitude
We envy others because we don’t see the good that we have in our lives instead we choose to believe that others’ are more blessed than we are.
Keep a gratitude journal and write down 5 things you’re grateful for every morning and evening.
This will not only help you see your blessings, it will also help you attract the things you want in your life.
What impact has envy had on your finances?
Let me know in the comments section below.