An Unhappy Confession

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

I have an ugly confession to make, and I’ll warn you now that there is no life lesson or resolution at the end of it. I’m just putting the ugly out there, because I haven’t been able to figure out what else to do with it.

I struggle with jealousy and envy.

Like, a lot.

It is consistently what ties me up in knots, turns me into a twisted version of myself, and keeps me from pursuing my goals to their completion.

When my best friend tells me about all the fun she is having with another friend, I become bitter that those moments were not spent with me. I withdraw and snipe; I make a laundry list of what is wrong with the interloper. I worry that I’m being replaced. I cry over feeling replaceable.

When a writer I admire receives praise and recognition, I immediately ask, “why not me?” I focus on all the ways that I am lacking, and I worry as I see the last scraps of opportunity be tossed at her feet. It doesn’t matter that I don’t believe opportunity is limited, because I am suddenly a starving beggar watching the last meal on Earth go to someone else.

Like I said, it’s ugly, uglier still because it’s usually inspired by people I care about and want to cheer for.

It pisses me off to realize that this nasty resentment and coveting is rooted in a belief that I am not enough. I have worked so hard and for so long on changing that belief, and yet it is still wrapped around my core like a fungus. I don’t seem to be able to carve it out; no matter how many chunks I remove with gratitude and positive thinking, new pieces keep sprouting.

I’m telling you this because you have to face your feelings.

I’m telling you this because the pursuit of happiness is not linear.

But mostly, I’m telling you this because I hope that confession will help cleanse my soul.

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  1. Naomi says:

    :( I’m glad you aired it … otherwise we’d mistakenly think that you’d found the secret to happiness! What is more at the core of feeling you’re not enough, do you think? The feeling that if you HAD more you’d be happier/better … or that if you could DO more ?
    Naomi’s most recent post: Box 53b

    • Miss Britt says:

      definitely DO more – I’m constantly feeling like I’m not doing enough!
      Miss Britt’s most recent post: An Unhappy Confession

      • Naomi says:

        That’s hard because it’s a cycle, I think. If you are comparing your “I don’t do enough” to what you *think* other people are doing, you’re just kicking yourself in your own ass. Example : I hardly get any comments on my blog post, so I x, y and z in order to get MORE comments like Blogger So And So. But in doing that, I neglect my kids during dinner, which happens to be MY strong suit and one of Blogger So And So’s worst traits. I guess, maybe is it about hunkering down with yourself (asking your mama and Jared and your besties) to determine in what AREAS you really COULD do more/better and create some action steps? You might find that you ARE already doing enough. (enough blabbedy blab from me!)
        Naomi’s most recent post: Box 53b

  2. daniel says:

    I love that you’re open and honest about this not only with yourself, but your readers. Can’t make changes if you don’t acknowledge the problem.
    daniel’s most recent post: “Savoy Truffle” Beatles Week 2012 Day 8

  3. Nicole P. says:

    I struggle with it too. I know it stems from feelings of inadequacy. Have you heard of Helen Jane’s jealousy map? That helps me deal with it somewhat.
    Nicole P.’s most recent post: Nearly Wordless Wednesday

  4. ana says:

    As I was reading this, two quotes came to mind. I love these quotes and I find that I draw on them all the time:

    “Learn to be happy for others and you can never run out of happiness.” ~Salma Hayek

    “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steven Furtick

    I hope you find some peace!

  5. Ginamonster says:

    I get it. So much. I fight it too, but it’s there. It’s helped me to let go, to remind myself that my friend’s success is NOT my failure, that we get different things from different people, and that sometimes, my own company is enough.
    Ginamonster’s most recent post: Just come right out and say it

  6. I think we’ve all been there, kudos for putting this out into the universe. Hopefully it will help cleanse the soul as you say:)
    D.J. – The World of Deej’s most recent post: Discovering Georgia’s History on St. Simons Island

  7. Megan says:

    I suffer from this as well. I frequently feel like I’ve missed out on some big secret that gets everybody these writing opportunities I knew nothing about.
    Megan’s most recent post: 2013: Evolution

  8. Dick Carlson says:

    Oh, sweetie — you’re not alone here at all. I used to work very, very hard at getting speaking engagements at shows. And it annoyed me to no end if someone else got a bigger room, or a better time, or higher billing. Especially if they weren’t as experienced, or skilled, or as “wonderful” as I am.

    Now that I don’t really do that kind of work any more I look back and chuckle about how it messed with my head — but I find other ways to be slighted every day. My favorite psychiatrist (does it tell you something that I’ve had a favorite) called me a “fragile narcissist” and I think she got it spot on.

    I’m now trying to learn to only obsess over things that are really important to me. At my current rate of improvement, if I live to be 238 I will succeed.
    Dick Carlson’s most recent post: How Can I Force Students To Spend More Time Learning?

  9. Carly says:

    Just a thought. Be gentle with yourself, lady. Maybe take smaller bites on this one. Give yourself credit for small victories. Like run of the mill resentment instead of nasty resentment. That’s a victory. Shit like this doesn’t come easy, we know that. I don’t believe the confession here can cleanse your soul. But I do believe it can help you forgive yourself for it on some level…which seems very relevant.

    One way to look at the whole I am not enough thing is as loving oneself. I find the way that Glennon of Momastery talks about loving herself almost like a God-given duty to be very resonant. As someone with a lot of shame, a well of shame, a fucking artesian SPRING of shame…I have found that when I really start to death spiral on something, I step outside myself and think of myself as my very best friend. I think of how I would treat a friend who was in my position and then I try to treat myself accordingly. Somehow it helps. I even sort of talk to myself…like I envision my highest self, my namaste self, my aum self consoling my bodily self. It gives me small comfort, and I’ll take what I can get. OK, now I’m sort of off on this tangent that seems irrelevant, but I don’t think it is. I hope it goes well with you.

  10. Sulagna says:

    Hmm. I guess we all have some confessions to make, but few have the courage to do it, unlike you, Britt.
    Btw, where’s this photo from? The niche in the wall is very typical of traditional East Indian architecture (the part of the world I come from)…
    Sulagna’s most recent post: Mathematical Love Letter

  11. Rachel says:

    You know, I don’t struggle with the same things. But related to your feelings–recently my husband told me “you make everything about you” and someone at work said the same. I think I need to examine my filter and i wonder if you have the same filter.

    No answers. Just questions.

  12. I am the same…I try to be good about it because jealousy really serves no purpose but I get caught up in it all the time :(
    Vanessa, Take only Memories’s most recent post: Enhance Your Life with a Knowledge Exchange

  13. Danielle says:

    I know what you mean. I constantly have to remind myself that someone else’s success is not my failure.

  14. Karin says:

    You mean you’re human? You are definitely not alone, I think we all suffer from that particular affliction. I struggle daily with feeling as if I’m not enough. We’ll get through it one day at a time! :D

  15. niki mathias says:

    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Two books I would recommend which could be useful, both talk about the different mindsets of scarcity versus abundance:
    1) The Art of Possibility, by Ben Zanders
    2) Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown

    You can rewire your brain to have an abundance mindset, it’s really possible. Best wishes for the new year…
    == niki mathias
    niki mathias’s most recent post: Here’s How 2013 Will Be Different

  16. Becca says:

    Hugs with your struggles, you are not alone.

  17. the envy thing i don’t really get because as soon as i feel a pang of it, i circle back to all the great things in my life that i am grateful for. so yeah, i have no idea what to say other than i am really curious as to what, deep down, makes you not have the confidence i would assume someone as wonderful as you would have.

    and i think a little jealousy is natural. we all want to be included in fun adventures. i know i personally hate to miss out on anything. sure, i’m crazy happy for those who partake in the event, but there is still a part of me who wishes i had been invited. pretty much i tell myself that they are saving the really fun stuff for me, but i know that all of our time is so precious, so filled with activities that my friends can’t possibly have me at their side for everything they do and still have other friends.

    ok, totally rambling. all i really wanted to say was you aren’t alone, lots of folks get jealous, but i wish you confidence enough to know that it most likely has nothing to do with you when friends do things with others.
    hello haha narf’s most recent post: Adventure in Tahn

    • Miss Britt says:

      Oh, I know in my HEAD that people have multiple friends and that doing things with other people isn’t a slight against me. I have multiple people whom I consider my BEST friends! It’s a knee-jerk, irrational response, for sure.

      • ok, here is something weird: i know you have several best friends, but i don’t really have anyone i consider my BEST friend. when people ask me who my best friend is i do the blink blink thing and stammer that i have many best friends when in reality the real answer is i don’t have any best friend. how fucked up is that?!?!
        :)
        hello haha narf’s most recent post: Adventure in Tahn

        • Miss Britt says:

          Huh. That is kind of funny.

          Of course, you could be like Emma, who says she has 20 best friends. lol

  18. [...] week, when I was thinking about my jealousy over other people’s success, I recalled the most basic method for overcoming such feelings: [...]

  19. Now that you’ve aired it and owned it Miss Britt, it will start to leave your life. You reduce its power when you admit it is there.

    IT will never leave, because we are human, and part of that means we have these emotions. You just have to learn how to control them instead of having them control you.

    The first step is acknowledgement and then acceptance. And you have done both. Now you just have to treat it with love. Thank it for being in your life and teaching you things and then lovingly ask it to leave now. You don’t need it- you are far more powerful

  20. Toni says:

    I think everyone struggles with this…even the very same people that we envy. They just envy someone else and the chain continues. We all want someone else’s “utopian” life. I find myself, forever, wishing I could travel like Bourdain, or have the freedoms of my single, city friends. I always wanted a high rise studio city apartment and streets filled with music, people and culture. Then again, I have a healthy family, a house, 2 cars and a cat and a dog…I’m sure someone else may envy me (though it’s very hard for me think that someone would want MY life.) It’s an ugly word, that “envy.” Isn’t it?

    In my approach to the big 4-0 this year…I think about this topic A.LOT…and very often ask myself, “why do you feel this way?” and, “what are you going to do about it?” Well, I feel this way because it’s normal, even though it sucks balls, it’s normal. If I didn’t have these feelings…then I wouldn’t have much to strive for…right?
    Toni’s most recent post: Culinary Passport: Poland

  21. Vanessa says:

    I can agree about feeling envious, but I have heard this quote recently that has settled me the tiniest bit:
    “What is messing up our lives now is the thought that it is supposed to be something else.”

  22. I’ve struggled with jealousy on and off throughout the last year. At first I thought it made me a bad person… but slowly I began to realize that it just makes me human. Everyone experiences those feelings once in a while. I think it’s a flag when it crops up over and over again—a sign to take action.

    For example, I kept feeling snarky toward a fellow author. She’s not exactly a ray of sunshine, but I noticed that I felt envious whenever she accomplished something I wanted to, deep down. So I developed an action plan, and have been focusing on my own desires and goals instead, and it’s helped a lot.
    Elizabeth Barone’s most recent post: On Interrogating Someone’s Fandom

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