Sometimes when those close to us reach a level of success in their careers or personal life, we tend to wonder why we are not as fortunate. Human beings have fundamental difficulties with handling success—in particular, the success of others. We accept that strangers are successful, but we just don’t like to see our, old friend, a former classmate, and sometimes even our own siblings succeed, though we genuinely care and have love for them.
Success comes in many forms. It might be having a new cool job, losing a lot of weight, or finding a new boyfriend/girlfriend. And success among our closest friends is often the most problematic. If you’ve ever felt a hint of jealousy in friendship or perhaps been envious of your friend’s success, it is important to take the time to figure out exactly why is it that their success bothers you. Otherwise, you can risk losing a friendship.
The foundation of most friendships starts with the perception that you are each other’s equal and that balance is shifted when one party is successful while the other is not. Many successful entrepreneurs have said that the more success they achieve, the fewer friends they feel they have.
Jealousy is a normal emotion that everyone experiences, but if you’re not careful, however, jealousy can grow into resentment and bitterness.
How to Deal with Jealousy in Friendship
Where does jealousy in friendship come from?
- Competition: Envy stems from competition between two people.
- Insecurity about your own abilities: If a person feels 100% certain about his own abilities and qualities, he will never feel jealous.
- Being in need: If someone is in need, he will more often feel jealous when a person close to him experiences significant financial success, while they feel as if they are just “getting by”.
Jealousy is a normal emotion that everyone experiences, but if you’re not careful, however, jealousy can grow into resentment and bitterness. Therefore, it’s perfectly normal to feel a little jealous from time to time, so long you are genuinely happy on your friend’s behalf. In fact, a bit of jealousy can be healthy and may motivate you to reach the same achievement as your friend.
However, if you feel envious, you are on the wrong track. Feeling envious can mean that you have low self-esteem and might feel tempted to talk badly about the successful person either face-to-face or, even worse, behind his or her back.
So instead of being envious, take this opportunity to transmute those emotions into positive ones by allowing yourself to be inspired by your friend’s success, and finding out what you can learn from them. Be proud of your friends, and don’t try to use their success as an explanation for your personal lack of success.
Below are a few tips to help you overcome any feelings of jealousy you may have of your friend’s success.
- Stop comparing yourself to your friend. If you keep comparing yourself, assets, accomplishments or looks with theirs, then you need to stop doing that immediately because it’s not going to get you anywhere and will only make you more insecure and envious. Instead, learn to be satisfied with your life irrespective of what you have. You don’t know what your friend has gone through in order to achieve success. It is important to remember that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
- Recognize that you are becoming jealous. It is important to honest with yourself. Sometimes, we hate to admit that we are indeed jealous of our friends, but in order to solve the problem you must recognize that it exists. And until you accept that you are harboring feelings of jealousy against your friend, nothing can help you to overcome it. So, ask yourself, do I wish to be in their shoes? Or have something that they have?
- Try to focus on the friendship. Sometimes, being envious can ruin a good friendship, try to remember why you choose this person as your friend. Was it their humor, loyalty, or same taste in music? Don’t let your friend’s success get in the way of your friendship. Yes, things may have changed, but deep down inside they are often the same person. So, even though you may be jealous of your friend now, you decided this person would be your friend, so there must be some positive attributes about them that you liked. Think about the qualities that brought you both close, this way you can continue to appreciate the good in them, and keep the negativity out.
- Look deep inside yourself, sometimes jealousy stems from your own insecurities. Tell yourself that you are unique and just as good as the next person. Feel comfortable and confident with yourself and recognize all the great attributes and talents that you have, because unless you learn to appreciate your qualities, nobody else will and you’ll always end up comparing yourself to others.
Most importantly remember, success is not a limited resource that will deplete because other people become successful. There is plenty of success out there for all of us!
Soulaima Gourani is a lecturer, corporate advisor, and author of three books. She has had held many titles including one of the “40 under 40” European young leaders, a TED mentor and one of the “Inspiring 50 Nordics” women in the tech sector. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and their two children.