By Fatima Ariadne
Struggling with self acceptance, I unconsciously putting myself in inferiority complex by ceaselessly comparing myself with virtually anyone I’d come across, even random stranger! Oh why should I have this strange gray-ish eyebrow? Why not that appealing hourglass body? Why can’t I make money like that person? Why not the Z talent like X person? Why don’t I have this and that like _______ [insert person’s name here]?
That was until I tried to put my mind out from such loop of insanity and doing some reality check :
Realize or not, it’s a human nature that we want something we do not have. Sometimes we long for something, not necessarily because they are better. But simply because we don’t possess it.
The Dangers of Envy
There are several stages of envy. The lightest one is when you’re longing and wishing what others have. And the heaviest one is where you are resentful for what others have, even secretly wishes their blessings vanish. Taken to another next level, envious people can go a distance to make their target’s blessings really gone.
In the town I’m currently living, it’s pretty common that small businesses (particularly restaurants or stores) throwing black magick at one another, especially if the target have a larger customers and great food. Instead of learning and emulating from what makes their competitors success, they just take shortcut by throwing black magick or psychic attack at each others.
What Quran and Hadith had warned us about envy :
“And do not covet for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of His bounty. Verily Allah is All-Knowing of all things.” (Quran 4 : 32)
Rasulullah (peace be upon him) was narrated to say, “Do not look to those above you, look to those below you, as it will more likely remind you of God’s favors bestowed on you.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
“Beware of envy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire consumes wood.” (Abu Dawood)
Rasulullah (pbuh) was asked by his companions, ‘We understand a truthful tongue, but what does a truthful heart mean?’ therefore he was narrated to answer, “It is the heart that is pious, pure, and is free of sin, transgressions, hatred and envy.” (Ibn Majah)
“Do not be jealous of each other, do not boycott each other, do not hate each other, do not contrive against each other. Be all of you brothers to each other, O Servants of God” (Abu Dawood)
Several surefire ways to eliminate envy :
1. Learn the Journey Behind their Success
Nature teach us about patience. There is no need to envy the tall trees for being so tall because tree doesn’t grow overnight. Every tree starts from a seed first, then a small plant, small tree, and over years it grows into a tall tree. That’s called the process.
Roses and flowers do not bloom in a second. They started from seeds and smaller plants. The biggest palaces and architecture masterpieces in the world took decades to build and accomplish. Michaelangelo lied down under the cathedral ceiling for years to accompolish his legendary paintings. The infamous Edison created hundreds of inventions that failed before he was known as one of the greatest inventor ever lived.
Every single masterpiece and greatest work ever existed always taking their own time and effort to grow, shaped, and to be perfected. Behind the scenes, there are untold hard works involved. But consumed by instant gratification culture, we skip and overlook the hard work part and think “this person is lucky”. “She is an overnight success”. But in law of nature, there is no such thing as “overnight success”, only a longtime process be it seen or unseen from our vision and perception.
“Whenever you see a successful person you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” — Vaibhav Shah
People who we are envying as “lucky” and “have-it-all” are actually going through a lot of hard works, pain, and failures to be where they are now. It’s very common that a wealthy businessperson started from zero, going through failures and restarted again, they are persistent and finally they climb the ladder of success. Olympic athletes were training in extraordinary hours, keeping strict diets, to achieve perfection and champion titles. Famous singers trained themselves in long hours of vocal training, hiring vocal teachers, exercises, keeping strict diets, and rehearsals.
When you tread their path, walking on their shoes and their stories, they’re not attaining their success because they’re “lucky” – I mean “lucky” such as getting a hocus-pocus miracle falling from heaven. They worked hard for it.
In short, every perfection is shaped throughout time, forged, and they grow from zero. Every trees start from tiny seeds. It’s just we seldom want to see that process. The popular media is engrossed in “success stories” and “overnight success”, shaping this Cinderella-like expectation of mentality to its viewers. They’re treating success like a Cinderella fairytale. But in real life, there is no fairy godmother who appears out of the blue to sway her magic wand and pixie dust to change our world. Only natural process of growth which intertwined, in sometimes successful and sometimes failed.
Perfection is a journey on its own. There is not just “success stories”, there are much more “failure stories” and “learn-from-failure stories” and “try-again stories” behind the scenes, invisible and untold. But this side is very seldom to be exposed. Because it’s bitter and unpleasant.
Therefore instead of envying, we must stop to look at things as if they happen magically out of winning lottery of “luck”. We must plant this mindset that every success is a result from long process, not luck. Are you willing to work that hard? Are you willing to sacrifice your time, your favorite TV shows, your sleep hours? Are you willing to spend inhumane hours to grow your baby until it becomes success story? Most of us are not really willing to do that. Most can’t even stomach the risks and failure before we eventually give up.
And in these stories, there is no Cinderella story. There is no fairy godmother or magic wand to rescue you. You must rescue yourself.
2. Nobody’s Glass is Really Full
When we see our glasses half empty, and others seem fuller, we envy them. But the truth is, the people you envy for, their glasses is not really full as you thought. In fact, nobody’s glass is really full. You may only see the glitters and achievements of your subjects of envy, but have you ever think of their shortcomings? Their struggles and adversities before they became the very person you see now?
But now let’s ask yourself. Have you ever thought of the hidden darkness behind the people you so adore as perfect? For example, it’s very common that females envy famous supermodels or celebrities stars and wished to be like them. But many celebrity stars, hide a hidden darkness in their lives and it’s only a matter of time before they are revealed to public. From divorce and infidelity or sexual problem, to drug problem, alcoholism, mental illness, or just a matter of unsatisfied life…which is often untold.
After they get it all based on the world standard, and they get what everybody wants, suddenly life becomes lost in meaning, and empty. What’s the purpose of this life? So they tried to fill the void in any way they could. It can be positive like humanitarian acts, or it can be negative like creating sex scandals, alcohol, extreme partying, anything that fulfill that instant impulse temporarily. A lot of times one doesn’t need to be famous star just to fall in the same darkness.
And yet, media is so engrossed with image of beauty, glittery glory and fame, creating this ilussion of perfection. Exposing one side while completely ignore other sides.
3. Nurture your own strength.
Back in the day, I really wanted to become fiction writer and novelist but no matter how hard I tried, it always failed and rejected by publisher or magazine. My last novel draft 2 years ago, was a fiction about life of people in other planet of Cygnus constellation, where I made up its fantasy name and title “Anayacavera”.
One of former school friend who works in publisher saw that draft and shared me his editorial advice, “if you want to make a sci-fi alien novel, the alien humans of yours are still too human. It’s as if you want to humanize aliens. They should be ‘out there’, strange and detached, so the novel will sell. The only thing descriptive here is the UFO’s, the aircrafts. Also, the aliens here keep repeatedly saying that earth humans are primitive, that’s an insult to your readers”.
Somehow, out of no reason I felt disgusted at this ugly draft and finally decided to delete all the files without mercy. And abandoned my dream to be author, but that’s only because I saw other fertile soil to plant to.
I realized rather than pursuing my failing goal as a sci-fi novelist or any fiction author, and envying successful authors, I have other talent as entrepreneur. So I pursued this one and it turned out well, though my income is still average now. Suffice to say, I’m happier and grateful to be self-employed!
One door closed, another door is still open. But we so frequent to weep upon the closed door that we are heedless that the other one is still open. After so many experiences, I only learned bitter lesson that envy is a waste of time and energy. Rather than envying, we should instead channel that energy to work harder so we can be better person ourselves.
Big Tree and Not-Yet-Big Tree
Once upon a time, there are two trees standing side by side. One is small in size while the other is big and tall.
The smaller tree, well actually a plant since it’s very thin and small, said to the big tree, “I want to be big just like you. You’re so big, beautiful, and tall. Everybody loves you. You’re producing fruits for everyone and every being loves to stay by your shade. But look at me here! I am so small, thin, and insignificant! I envy you and I want to be like you so everyone will come around to my shade.”
So said the big tree, “you’re not a small plant. You’re a tree like me, but you’re not big yet. You still have plenty of time to bloom and grow. Grow yourself and see how big and tall you can become in the future. You might be much more taller than me, who knows. You see yourself as thin and insignificant, but you can’t judge your future based on your current form. Work harder to grow yourself up and see what you might become”.
Stop weeping about your weakness and instead, forge your strength so you can be the very person you’re envying of. Even more!
“My work (deeds) to me, and your work to you. You are free from responsibility for what I do, and I am free from what you do” (Quran 10:41)
Say, “O my people, work according to your position; [for] indeed, I am working” (Quran Al An’aam 135)