Envy = Arrogance + Entitlement.
I should have learned by now to stop believing in people’s potential. It feels foolish to be who I am at this point. Nonetheless, I can’t suddenly acquire a new personality. I guess it’s best to just deal with the grief that my stubbornness in trying to see the good in other people will bring me again and again.
Here’s a bitter truth: no amount of believing, encouraging, cheering and trying to be friends with people who are suffering will have any effect whatsoever UNLESS they are themselves committed to getting out of the pit. It takes two, ya know…
Sadly, some people are in love with the pit. They wanna stay there. They are addicted to suffering and have already made this fake martyrdom a central part of their personality.
Yes, this is about a personal experience I’ve just had (so by all means, go ahead and call me “petty”). At the same time, this entire ordeal helped me understand the true nature of a very common, very human feeling: envy. And I’m here to register this lesson, for anyone who feels like reading.
I’ve already been blogging about envy in the past. Precisely, I once blogged about how envy is underpinned by a twee rose-tinted exaggeration of other people’s accomplishments. Follow the link if you feel like reading that. But when I wrote that post, I hadn’t yet realised the other side of envy: its close relationship with martyr syndrome. Here is what I mean by martyr syndrome:
Isn’t it ironic that the same people who seem to enjoy showcasing their suffering also have the thinnest skin? Try criticising them and you’ll see the ginormous defensiveness. That’s thin skin. If their lifelong endurance of pain (emotional or otherwise) was entirely genuine, not made-up or exaggerated for pity points, they would have a thick skin by now. It isn’t a character flaw, it’s just a fact of life (a brutal and very unfair one at that, but still true) that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s plain logic and doesn’t take anyone a 6th sense to figure out. So if you just age, but never grow up, never become stronger… That means you weren’t suffering all that much. It was an act.
I specifically told this person, back when we were still talking, that she is like Otto in “A Man Called Otto” (a new adaptation of Swedish novel En man som heter Ove, fun fact. Brought to you by this half-Swede over here who often gets mistaken for a 100% Latina just because of my looks. Gotta love racism). I am more like Marisol, anyway — or at least that’s who I am in comparison to all the self-destructive “Ottos” I am forced to deal with.
A much needed tangent/open letter (all in bold, skip if you’re just a Medium follower)
Now… if you’re her and you came here to read this post (perhaps because of this undeniable reference above), hi. I wasn’t initially going to blog about you, dear. I wouldn’t, if it wasn’t for the fact you decided to escalate a very personal conflict far beyond where it needed to go. Now everyone in that group is confused as to why that was necessary (spoiler alert: no it wasn’t), and I can’t even tell them I’ve known you beyond the facade to help them understand that “no, there’s no need to worry too much; Yes, she IS like that and doesn’t know the difference between what’s personal and what’s not personal. She is saying that this matter is not personal, but actually, what she means is: this is personal. This was some in-fighting that has nothing to do with any of you. She never MEANS what she says. So, not to worry, just keep going on with your lives, all of you”. I can’t say that! I just have to sit and watch the whole circus catch fire, knowing that I could have done something to keep things together. That’s why I left. If I said that to anyone in the group, I’d have to prove it. And I COULD prove it. I do have the whole ammo, I’m just not gonna use it. I don’t do attacks, all I do is defense (see my martial magic series). As much as I resent you and feel hurt by your inconsequential manipulation and triangulation… I still have some integrity left in me. I wouldn’t spill your secrets just to stroke my own ego, not because they’re your secrets (don’t flatter yourself…), but because I simply don’t do that. Ever.
Now, to be fair, yes, I was the one who approached you in the first place. I saw there was something going on, didn’t know what it was (now I know. Keep reading), and was foolish enough to think I could “play a Marisol” and be something of an emotional helping hand. That’s on me. It partly also comes from the fact you remind me of my mother. Always so meek and timid and mystic and apparently “wise”, but in reality raging inside and constantly sabotaging herself before I have time to be successful in fixing her totally unnecessary, totally self-inflicted and fabricated messes FOR her. There comes a point when enough is enough. And hopefully, there will come a day when I will no longer have any semblance of this trauma bond within me… And, ya know, stop approaching people who are like that in the first place. It’s in my to-do list.
Even because, let’s be honest here: in order to fix certain messes in life, we need to get dirty. We need to forego our integrity and get in the he-said-she-said game; be honest and explain to random innocent strangers that “this is what you’re in for” and expect the manipulator’s rage because of defamation (which is not really defamation, just the truth; I mean, if you don’t want a bad image, don’t do bad things. Simple); OR alternatively, protect the manipulator by pitting the innocent strangers against each other. (Guess where “child me” was at in a desperate attempt not to be abandoned on the streets as a child — horrible grammar, I know, but you can’t misquote it so there’s that). That’s not a move I am willing to make anymore, sorry, I exceeded my quota in childhood.
Reality is, Marisol is fictional. It usually doesn’t work in real life. It was extremely naive of me to try and make it work in real life. Laughably naive. Stupid, even.
I’m under no delusion that you will actually understand what I’m saying here. You’re committed to misunderstanding and misrepresenting me, and to be quite honest I’m not taking that personally. That’s what you do, that’s who you are. This is not about me at all. Still, I am aware this post could get wildly misrepresented (despite the fact you and your now-enemy are ironically the only people in that group I ever even told about my blog; And I have the receipts to prove that, and will do so IN PUBLIC for all to see in case you go as far as TRYING to blast me for this article over there. You guys only ever understand threats, yeah? So here’s one. There’s no being sweet and kind to you, okay, I got the memo at last).
Oh, and before I forget: the reason I’m not talking about the other party as much is, plain and simply, she never targeted me. Make no mistakes, I’m not partial in the grand scheme of things; I’m only partial on a personal level. But unlike certain people, I know how to keep the two levels separate. I know how to look at the bigger picture and go like “well, if I had to pick sides, that’s easy peasy. But I won’t, because this whole community is at stake and I won’t bet an entire community on a personal conflict” (hence why I’m only confessing this over here, under a totally different name). I wish other people would be grown-up enough to agree with that. Oh but wait, I’m the younger person here, am I not? That automatically must mean I must be submissive. Sorry, I forgot.
You love trying to silence me, and it’s exactly because you have a thin skin and something of an addiction to the comfort zone. It begs the question: why would you even read this article, then? Knowing I am (in)famous for using a harsh tone every now and then, aware that this is a no-bullshit corner of Medium… Well, as it happens, you simply don’t know yourself well enough, so you overestimate your ability to “take it”. That’s why I have to spell it out to you: do NOT keep reading. You can’t take it. You’ll rage at me if you don’t stop reading before the next title.
I’ll repeat the warning (still for the same 2 individuals), dumbed down to the very essentials, loud and clear: if you retaliate at this post, I’ll spill the tea on who you are. Both of you. If you underhandedly retaliate, and word gets to me, I’ll spill the tea on who you are. If you attack me for this post, I’ll spill the tea on who you are. You know exactly what that “tea” entails. Are we in agreement, ladies? I hope so. I do not need your permission to blog here. And I do in fact HAVE permission from above to evade certain rules if my personal security is put at stake. So, there’s that. Tread VERY carefully if you wanna “do something” about this post. I recommend you don’t. Just let it be. No-one can identify you, as is. Let’s keep it that way.
Why does envy come from arrogance?
I love the metaphor in the photo above: “no I’m not going anywhere. You can’t make me change my mind. I even morphed into the environment to drive that point home”. Insert toddler-in-the-supermarket meme.
There’s a difference between envy vs harmless jealousy, and it lays exactly in the presence or absence of arrogance. When you desire what someone else has but you haven’t yet crossed your arms and stomped your feet on the floor and decided to butt heads with anyone who tries to talk sense into you (aka, you’re jealous but not a very inflexible know-it-all), perhaps you’ll be open to looking at the situation from a different angle.
Simple example: maybe you envy someone’s musical ability and think it’s a talent they were born with, and you start hating that person for “showing off” so much (when in fact they’re not showing off… They’re just doing their job as a musician at the appropriate venues. But you won’t admit to yourself that you’re envious, oh no, that’s too painful. Instead, your brain makes up the narrative that you’re wiser than them and “know better” than to show off like that); Then someday you happen to meet a childhood friend of this musician, and you learn that they “had a super small circle of friends and often wouldn’t even have fun on weekends in order to practise music”. IF you’re the kind of harmless jealous person who has an open mind, you’ll probably stop hating the person so much. This shift is entirely subconscious, by the way. You won’t know it IS envy driving it, you’ll dismiss it as something else (and that’s normal), but nonetheless, if you have an open mind, you’ll be open to changing that perspective — even subconsciously. Even without realising. And soon enough, you’ll be admiring the person in a more healthy way, because now you know the price they paid to “get there”. It wasn’t all roses and glamour.
ON THE OTHER HAND: If you’re the arrogant kind of envious person who holds on to one and only one opinion for dear life like a shipwrecked holds onto a piece of wood… You’ll have a harder time letting go of the underlying envy that initially gave you “the ick”. Arrogance comes with this delusion of moral or intellectual superiority, and it can help you when you happen to be right, but it will harm you in equal measure when you’re wrong. Every person misunderstands things once in a while. You can’t run away from that. What you CAN do is pretend you’re running away from that. Aka: holding on to one initial first impression for dear life, because “not letting go” is subconsciously a thing you’re more invested in, rather than learning something new that could free you from the uneasiness around the person who has what you want.
In the specific situation that inspired this post, the person envied a spiritual “talent”: my courage to pursue divination. I don’t know (and don’t want to know) whether or not she envies my ability itself — and that’s unlikely, if I were to take an educated guess — but she definitely does envy my courage to go ahead and try; put myself out there; admit I’m walking this path; offer the service (always with the caveat I’m not a professional, just learning…) but offer it nonetheless. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have insinuated to me in multiple occasions that “people have a prejudice because they assume divination is like speaking on behalf of the gods”.
Initially, I believed it. I didn’t know the group too well, maybe this was a local thing like one of those weird paranoias that spread like wildfire in controlled environments. I gave her assertion a chance… But later on, talking to others (including, well, someone she now dislikes), I realised that wasn’t true at all. Everyone was chill about divination; even told me about their own methods and stories. That’s when she started backpedalling and saying “oh, you misunderstood it, I was talking about [insert cherrypicked term-turned-into-a-tangent]. I’ve nothing against anyone’s offer of the kind of service you do” — So I realised there was a lot of gossip and triangulation happening behind my back, even that early on. Because I certainly wasn’t the one doing the back-and-forth.
But narcissistic traits aside, here in this article I’ll focus on another aspect of this person: arrogance. She could have admitted she told me something misleading (or better yet: she could have not told me something misleading in the first place!), but instead, she chooses to do it anyway, and then backpedals. Okay, that’s a bit too hard on most people’s egos, I get it. So, here’s a milder alternative: when I confronted her, she could have just said “sorry, my bad, I assumed you were like [insert story of overly standoffish diviner here? Or even, invent story here? I wouldn’t have minded? I understand some people’s need to run away from embarrassment??]… but as it turns out I was wrong about that. My bad”. See? That could have been a way to stay diplomatic and keep talking to me. Or, if she didn’t want to keep talking to me (probably the case, and a thing I suggested myself, but you see, this person is arrogant, won’t “give in” to anything ever, even to a thing we literally AGREE about — we’re not gonna get on so let’s just stop talking — and found a way to disagree with EVEN THAT, just in order to not give me even a tiny bit of satisfaction), she could have just reiterated the same, uh, initial first impression of me, and left it at that. So many options… And yet, the worst was chosen. Because holding all the power in the dynamics matters more than actually solving things. Oh, look, this is starting to give the recent situation a bit of a backdrop, isn’t it? It was also about prioritising a power dynamics instead of a greater good. See? she is like that. This is nothing new. Not to worry. Business as usual.
Anyway, to summarise: envy comes from arrogance because, when you’re arrogant, it’s harder to let go of the assumptions you make about people (including the exaggerations you make about those you envy — even if you’re genuinely unaware that you envy them). You can’t turn it “on” and “off”, right? Either you HAVE this arrogance, or you DON’T. It’s a habit you can decide to learn or unlearn but it affects all things.
Conversely, when you’re not arrogant, your feelings of jealousy will hardly ever develop into full-blown spiteful envy.
“Oh but I worry so much about doing the right thing”, people like her might think. It doesn’t matter, you can worry about doing the right thing AND be arrogant about it. One thing does not exclude the other. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Where is the entitlement in envy?
If you assumed “envious people feel entitled to what others have”… That’s correct! But it isn’t the full story.
Yes, they feel entitled to what others have, but above all else, envy is defined by a sense of competition: “there can’t be two of us” or something along those lines. They feel entitled to DEPRIVING someone of what they have, in order to acquire it for themselves. As if talents, accomplishments, admirable traits of personality, etc were like a currency: when you have this penny, someone else does not have this same exact penny. Pathetic, isn’t it? When I spell it out like that, I guess everyone can see there’s no logic in this train of thought. The problem is, most of the time, certain kinds of people are just blindly taking this train of thought to destination undefined. They haven’t reflected on WHY, and are unlikely to do that anytime soon.
I knew she wouldn’t take this too well. Not direct and bluntly, anyway. So, I wrote a motivational post here on Medium with undertones of “competition is nothing to be ashamed of, and I’m not on a high horse, but too much of it will harm you”. I sent her the link, at the time. She acknowledged and read it, then proceeded to oversimplify and misunderstand the message I put so much time and effort into crafting in such a way as not to be too abrasive or confrontational. I went through all that, and what did I get in exchange? “Your post got me scratching my head (as in: doesn’t get it). I see you say you talk about wanting to compete?” (Yeah, no, a 5-year-old would understand it deeper than that, but sure, I guess foregoing the high horse automatically means I’m admitting to “being competitive” as if every other human being wasn’t too). You get the gist, this kind of person exhausts me. But anyway, I understood from then on that she wasn’t moving a finger to understand me, preferred to misrepresent me because that feels better on the ego when you’re already holding on for dear life to a feeling of envy just to avoid admitting it’s a bad thing (?) So I deleted it. Yes it had some useful theory in psychology overall, but I’m pretty sure all the points raised there can also be found in other posts of mine. It wasn’t a big loss for you, dear followers. It was just a missed opportunity for that person; and a huge waste of time on my side.
But I’ll reiterate a thing here: as far as I’m concerned, this entire ordeal ends here. With this blog post. If there’s no retaliation from any of the 2 involved, I’ll just move on and pretend all is well. Pinky promise.
Some people are like that. If you ask them whether or not they’re competitive, they’ll deny it until their last breath; But their actions don’t match those noble words, do they? No, they keep taking steps to ensure the people they think could outshine them stay without a platform; they fixate on envy and take extreme measures to lay low because otherwise “people will feel bad about not having what I have” (spiritual gifts, in the specific situation; but it could apply to more things). Envy is… Just not a theme in my own mind? Idk about you (follower reading here) but I don’t worry about keeping people’s envy away with every breath I take and every step of mine. I simply go about life and know that some will envy me, a lot won’t, and I can decide to only interact with the ones who won’t. Simple as that. No need to give all my freedom away to the odd possibility that someone might envy me. That stinks of projection. If I were capable of that, maybe I’d see it in others too.
In conclusion: don’t be under the illusion that just because someone you met has a genuine connection with the spiritual sides of things, they won’t have “human flaws”.
Of course I’d conclude on that note, since this blog is very focused on spirituality — but if you’re atheist and/or sceptic, it’s friendly to you as well and I’m sure you can selectively ignore some of the specific examples to focus on the main message. It stands as a manifold guide in my toolkit, and I might link to it in the future in case I have the misfortune of dealing with people who behave, ya know, like that again in these circles.
Although I have many stories to share about my misfortunes interacting with mentally troubled people in spiritual circles — and maybe it would have you believe I am a bit of a masochist for staying — let me reassure you that these are still a minority. A very annoying minority at that, and I write to help others deal with similar situations. That doesn’t mean I don’t also talk to a wide majority of people in spiritual circles who are, ya know, more NORMAL and pleasant.
The central message here is that you shouldn’t be fooled into assuming people with authority in spiritual circles are somehow “evolved”. Sometimes they just happened to be available for the job in a time of need, which doesn’t automatically mean they are the best fit for it. Other times (as I’m assuming is the case in the specific situation I used as an example here), everyone sucks in the leadership positions, which is why they get on. As with all areas of life, spirituality will also have you deal with human flaws here and there, because it’s full of humans. Simple as that. Be it envy, competition, narcissism, antisocial behaviour, or more. Learn to expect it, and never blindly trust anyone (even spirits!).