Another emotion worth leaving behind is envy.
Like anything we recover from, it takes time and practice to change our patterns. In my experience, we develop many habits of thought and behaviour, particularly on the subconscious level. Not unlike when our computers are running processes in the background, we don’t see them at work but they are having an effect and they draw energy from us. These are the tricky ones to break free from. But with time, help, and practice, I have found we have all the opportunity in the world to do so.
In my blog-buddy Debbie’s Two Minutes of Grace, http://bit.ly/A4rUPv we had some discussion around how we tend to do what comes naturally. Well seemingly naturally anyway. But what it often appears to be is what we have programmed in through time, exposure, and practice. These are the habits of thought that the subconscious has mastered so we do them without thinking. Including negative things like envy.
Conspicuous everyday-envy is easy to spot. We see someone with something we would like, such as a home, job, physique, relationship, or what have you, and we experience conscious negative thoughts of longing for what they have, and a negative outlook toward them for them having it and us not. We may even say something disparaging or dismissive about them for having it. This is the easy stuff to deal with. We know it is wrong and we can address the behavior, if not on our own, we can get help.
The tougher, yet still workable stuff, are the thoughts that we are less aware of that can be found bouncing around the ether of our minds. They taint our attitude, draw from our limited amount of daily energy, keep us mildly depressed, rob us of sleep, and affect our demeanor and decision-making. This form of envy is one of the roots of self-pity which to me, is the master mind of all self-defeating behaviour.
This subconscious, Silent Envy is what can keep us up at night and simply put an ambient sour feeling all over us. We feel it, but we don’t often directly express it. It tells us to make irrelevant comparisons of ourselves and others, and to rank people by criteria that is meaningless. They are not us and we are not them. We do not share similar neurologies, genetics, opportunities, talents, predispositions, upbringings, or life experiences. So on what basis are these comparisons valid? None that I have seen, yet our subconscious minds still often make them.
Sure we all know that we should not judge, gossip, or be petty. Yet somehow we can develop these invisible patterns of thought that run in the back of our minds and keep us exactly where we do not want to be.
So what do we do about it? I can’t speak for everyone, but the best way I have found is to continually retrain my thinking in new and positive ways. Most importantly, I had to get a functioning understanding…. no, deeper than that… I had to immerse my thinking in gratitude. I had to learn to see it, feel it, seek it, find it, embrace it, celebrate it, run to it, and embed it in my subconscious thinking as much or more than the threads of envy that once wove through.
God as I understand him teaches that we can be “… transformed by the renewing of our minds”. Sounds almost spooky yet is this not the process of any kind of personal growth? Weeding out old, ineffective, toxic thought processes and planting and nurturing new ones? How do we nurture them? By practicing them. By making a deliberate choice to take that awkward pathway of stopping an old thought then mechanically forcing ourselves (at first) to follow the new, chosen way.
It feels at first like wearing a new pair of shoes that are not worn in yet. And our old thinking will resist it. In fact, my old envious thinking started telling me, “it isn’t fair that I should have to learn new thinking, those other people didn’t have to”! Really? First off, if they didn’t have to they probably will with some other thread of flawed thinking. And secondly…. Who cares what they have to or don’t have to do!!?? They are not us!
The sheer insistence we apply to following a new pattern of thought or behaviour will be a key to creating a habit of it. In my experience, a happy, functioning day and happy, functioning life is a result of living in happy functioning habits.
I continue to slowly give up this habit of envy at the subconscious level. Life is so much better and my head is a far less noisy place.