You know how easy it can be to envy others’ homes and lifestyles if you have ever scrolled through your social media feeds only to feel jealous when you see photos of friends enjoying their luxurious vacations at the resort or in front of their gorgeous house. Financial envy can be real and it can sometimes be very ugly.
“Financial envy can be normal. It is part of our human nature,” states Yvonne Hampton who has a doctorate on personal financial planning and owns a financial therapy clinic in Kansas City, Missouri.
She adds that it is not always a bad thing. It’s a chance to look deeper inside about the reasons we feel that way, so that we can overcome it and live happier lives.
Here are five steps you can take to transform the green-eyed monster from a negative force in your life.
1. Let go of your shame
Rick Kahler, a Rapid City certified financial therapist, and certified financial planner, says that it is possible to make a lot of progress by simply acknowledging that you feel jealous. He adds, “Be kind to yourself.”
This will allow you to more easily focus on the concrete steps you need to achieve your financial objectives , such as paying off debt, saving up for a downpayment, or creating an emergency fund to provide greater financial security.
2. Be specific about the triggers
Hampton states that people are more likely than mega-rich icons such as Jeff Bezos and Oprah Winfrey to envy their peers. Hampton says that those feelings are a sign: If you feel jealous of your neighbor buying a new car span>
It could be rooted in a desire for more money or to spend money differently. You can identify the root cause and address it in order to make positive changes in your life.
Hampton states, “It can help us see what we really want.” If the goal is to buy a car, you can set a savings goal and begin saving each month.
3. Don’t use envy to discourage, but as a motivator
Robert Leahy is the author of “The Jealousy Cure” as well as a clinical professor of psychology at Weill Cornell Medicine. He believes that some forms of envy can be beneficial. He says that envy can be seen in cultures with hierarchies, even among animals such as dogs and human toddlers. Envy can be a positive thing in that it allows us to learn from others’ success and then apply those lessons to our lives.
It can also lead to feelings of inferiority or insecurity. Insecurity and self-harm can be caused by envy, as can feelings of hatred towards wealthy people. This can cause you to lose energy and take your life away, Rainer Zitelmann, a historian, sociologist, and author of “The Art of a Successful Life,” said in an email, sent from Berlin, Germany.
Zitelmann warns against unchecked envy, which can quickly become destructive. Zitelmann wrote that envy should be acknowledged whenever it occurs because it can lead to self-harm.
4. Recognize the things you don’t see
Although envy might be your first reaction to someone’s posts on social media, Hampton suggests that the reality of the situation could be much more complicated than what you think.
“We don’t know all the details. It’s not clear how long they saved, how hard they worked, or whether their parents paid for the house. She says they might be screaming at 3 AM about paying the mortgage.
It is easy to envy someone who posts highlights of their lives without having to go through the struggle.
“In all my [ Financial Therapy I have never met anyone who felt they had it all. Everyone is dealing with something. Hampton states that even if you are on the higher income side, there are still difficulties and these are difficult times with inflationary pressures.”
5. Refrain from focusing on the negative aspects that bring you joy.
Leahy suggests an exercise to counter materialistic envy. “Imagine that everything has been taken away,” Leahy says. One thing can be taken back at a given time. But only if you are able to show that you value it. He says that this process helps you to clarify your values. You can see that you have many sources of satisfaction .”
Leahy’s final tip: Recall an experience that brought you true contentment in your daily life. Perhaps it was as simple as sitting on a lake with a friend. While this might not have been an Instagrammable moment but it was far more meaningful.
This article was originally published by The Associated Press and was written by NerdWallet.