As a psychotherapist, I’ve witnessed how resentment can become a toxic force in people’s lives. I’ve seen couples compete against one another as they strive to out-do their partner. And I’ve seen families destroyed by envy when one member becomes more successful than the rest.
Today’s world makes it hard not to resent other people’s success. Spend two minutes on social media and you’ll see how well everyone else seems to be doing.
Vacation photos from friends can remind you they have more freedom than you do. Pictures of a co-worker’s new home can provide tangible evidence that he earns much more than you do. And the number of likes a friend receives on her posts may cause you to feel like she’s more popular than you are.
But researchers have found that envying your friends on Facebook actually leads to depression. Resenting people’s success in everyday life robs you of mental strength as well.
Here are six ways to stop resenting other people’s success:
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
Saying things like, “Their house is nicer than ours,” or “She’s skinnier than I am,” isn’t a healthy way to measure your self-worth. And it’s not a fair comparison. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.
Everyone has unique strengths, talents and life experiences. There will always be someone better, richer, and more accomplished but you don’t need to waste your energy resenting them. The only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday.
2. Don’t Put-Down Other People’s Accomplishments
Thinking, “He only got promoted because he kisses up to the boss,” or “She only got that award because her family is rich,” breeds feelings of resentment. You’ll never become mentally stronger by diminishing someone else’s accomplishments.
Practice acceptance. Acknowledge someone else’s achievement without passing judgment.
3. Develop an Awareness of Your Stereotypes
It’s easy to make assumptions about successful people. But just because someone is rich, famous, or business-savvy doesn’t mean he used unsavory methods to get there.
Be aware of the types of assumptions you make about people who are better off than you are. Focus on getting to know them as individuals before you draw sweeping generalizations.
4. Stop Emphasizing Your Weaknesses
Sometimes it’s easy to focus on your weaknesses and other people’s strengths. But thinking that way will only cause you to become envious, and perhaps hopeless.
Be willing to acknowledge things you could improve upon, but don’t magnify your shortcomings. Practice self-compassion and strive to do your best.
5. Quit Trying to Determine What’s Fair
Sometimes, people have more luck than others. It’s a fact of life. But focusing on what’s fair or who is most deserving isn’t a productive use of your time.
In fact, complaining about fairness can leave you feeling bitter. And those feelings of bitterness can become a huge stumbling block that will sabotage your efforts to reach your greatest potential.
6. Create Your Own Definition of Success
Remember that just because someone else has what you want, doesn’t mean you can’t have it too. But make sure you aren’t just following in someone else’s footsteps or chasing other people’s dreams. Create your own definition of success and you’ll be less threatened by people who are striving to reach their goals.
Keep your eyes on your own path. Every minute you spend thinking about other people reaching their dreams is a minute you didn’t spend working on achieving your own.