Envy & Jealousy : the scarcity mindset

I received a request to talk about a very interesting and difficult subject. One we all have to face on a daily basis, I would even argue. 

That is the topic of envy. 

And I decided to add in the term jealousy since it can often be connected even though the two concern different aspects of scarcity.

I will speak about this topic both today and next week because I want to come to terms with what it is, where it stems from and destigmatize it through the psychological approach. But when it comes to dealing with it, to come out of it, I believe that the more spiritual approach will be more helpful.

I mention the need to destigmatize because it is a very stigmatised emotion and therefore shunned upon in society as being “bad”. Yet it is actually one of the emotions that we all experience. And since whatever we resist persists, it’s not helpful to ignore it. 

And the twisted thing is that within envy lies vulnerability. So as long as we keep resisting acknowledging the feeling, we are actually resisting to be vulnerable. Why vulnerable? Because if we have envy, it means we have the belief that we lack something, that we are not whole or even more so, that we are not invincible. Keep that word in mind as I go on. 

So, accepting that we are just that “flawed” that we experience emotions that are not pretty to look at allows us to grow. Pretending that we don’t feel them and we go for the psychological bypass of trying to be holier than thou. 

So let’s first agree on what scarcity is. It is a synonym for shortage.

Therefore, it is the opposite of unlimited, abundance, completion. 

When there is shortage, it creates a vigilance within us because it puts us in a risk zone of potential “not enough”. 

Not enough food, not enough to protect our bodies, not enough to survive. 

We turn our gaze towards others and we evaluate if they have more or less than us. If we perceive that they have more but that it is not accessible to us, we experience the feeling of envy. 

If, on the contrary, we experience that we have something they don’t, we can fear losing it to them and we experience jealousy. In both cases, we believe that whatever is possessed, is scarce. Is not in abundance, that there is not enough for everyone and more so, that we will not be able to secure our position with it. 

In both feelings we are positioning ourselves lower than our imagined rival. If we put ourselves as equals or above, we would not feel the powerlessness that the envy of something we cannot access brings. If we felt equal or more, we would not doubt that we have secured what we have even if someone else comes along. 

In both feelings, we are experiencing a threat to our person so we are feeling fragile. We are experiencing a false version of ourselves, a small version of ourselves. We are vulnerable. 

We feel envy when we see in someone or something, a superiority that we could only aspire for. 

The reason this feeling is perpetuated and starts to take over our lives is actually our resistance to it. We know from everything that we have been taught as children and even later in life that envy and jealousy are bad feelings and should not exist. So naturally, when we feel them, we push them away as much as we can. 

Let’s agree on something : envy and jealousy are both natural feelings. Every human experiences them because we carry desire. 

Desire happens as a result of our self awareness. To use the mythological illustration of the garden of Eden, from the moment we take a bite of the apple and realise that we are naked, both self awareness and (apparently) shame occurs in our psyche. 

And indeed, the reason envy feels so painful is that there is shame intertwined with it. Somehow, we do not trust that we can have it too. So we feel powerless to our condition. The power is not within, it is with-out. The power, the phallus belongs to someone else. If you have been listening to me for a while, this word “phallus” might ring a bell. I spoke about the power that phallus is when I spoke about personality structures. 

You can go back and listen to those episodes but to sum it up : the idea that we do not inhabit the phallus happens from the moment we come into relationship with the object. By object I speak on a general level which means that this can be people, animals or inanimate objects. It is when the world becomes dualistic to us. From a spiritual perspective I find it fascinating that we come into this world with an integrated perspective and we are taught duality as we begin to experience life. This is a necessary part of our expansion and after all, if we did not come here to expand, then what did we come here to do?

But this duality is also what creates desire since desire happens when we experience a void, lack. It evokes our capacity to expand, to grow yet it also brings the possibility of suffering into our lives. That is what Adam and Eve experienced as they took a bite in the fruit and realised that they were naked. Realising that they were naked does not necessarily mean suffering but since they felt the need to cover themselves, they made the nakedness MEAN SOMETHING ABOUT THEM. And that is where this feeling of envy is so detrimental. Because we feel envy of something we believe we cannot have or be and that implies that we are not complete as we are. 

I would stretch as far as saying we do not feel envy due to what we desire but to what we believe we cannot incorporate. So all of a sudden, it is not so much about the possession the other person has but the fact that we lack it. That we will always lack it. That we can never be that, have that. 

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞



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