By Adam Zwig, PhD
In this era of famous Instagram models, popular YouTubers, and public figures who seem to have it all, it’s easy to get in a complex that you’re not good enough. The constant barrage of images of success and perfection can make you feel depressed and resentful that you don’t possess what these lucky folks seem to have. But what if your envy of these people isn’t just a negative, painful feeling you have to deal with? What if it's actually a meaningful process that can show you the path to enlightenment? Here’s an exercise to discover how envy is your subconscious trying to steer you toward your personal power.
Before we start, just a word about the folks you’re envious of. I’ve worked with many super successful people whose lives look great from the outside but aren’t always that way on the inside. They suffer from many of the same problems everyone does. Their issues may take a different form from yours but at the core they’re the same.
Okay, let’s get started. In this exercise, you’re going to explore the ideals you project onto someone, and discover how they’re actually part of your own psychology. In fact, you’re going to learn how the person you’re envious of is actually you! You don’t need a million dollars or a thin body to become your ideal self. I mean, become a skinny millionaire if you want, but it’s not the point. In fact, striving to attain something without awareness of your deeper motivations is a prescription for disappointment.
Step One: Think of someone you envy, and identify what you’re envious of. Is it his or her personality? Confidence? Talent? Intelligence? Success and wealth? Relationships? Body? Popularity?
Step Two: Explore what it would be like to be this person with their special qualities:
Begin by visualizing how he or she looks. Observe how they dress, move, and behave. Get a solid visual of this person.
Next, listen to his or her voice. What’s it sound like? Listen to its pitch, tone, tempo, and volume.
Now, feel what it would be like to be this person. Feel it in your whole body.
Next, move around the room like he or she does. Try to match their movements—posture, gait, and gestures. In addition, speak like this person. Don’t worry if you don't actually sound like them, just imagine you do.
Now, replace your mind with this person’s mind. Think like he or she does. Adopt their attitude toward life.
Be this special person.
Step Three: Imagine that instead of playacting someone, this is actually you! Claim these great qualities as your own.
Step Four: Think of how you can apply this new way of being to your life, especially your problems. Be careful to not literalize the qualities you desire. For example, if you imagine being wealthy, focus on the feeling and mindset of someone who has lots of money, not on all the things you would buy. Notice how this new frame of mind is different from your usual way of being. Identify with it as your own power. You may actually become wealthy one day (or thin, successful, popular, etc.), but the meaning and purpose of your envy is to push you to integrate the psychological attributes of the person you’re envious of.
Bonus Step: Ask yourself why you don’t already embody this way of being. What stops you? Do you have an inner critic trying to tear you down? Do you think you're not worthy enough to feel this happy? Are you afraid of what people will think of you if you act this way? Or do you think you can’t feel empowered unless you're literally wealthy, famous, successful, etc.? Identifying this will give you a lot of information about your process. In the next exercise I’ll give you ways to work through this block.
Great work! You’ve just learned how to transform envy into personal power. You did this by visualizing, listening to, feeling, moving, and thinking like the person you’re envious of, making these qualities your own, and applying them to your life.
Dr. Zwig—psychotherapist, singer-songwriter, educator, and author holds a PhD in clinical psychology, is an internationally renowned workshop leader and lecturer, and has had 9 Top Ten hit singles on the U.S Adult Contemporary charts. He has been featured in Billboard, Huffington Post, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Forbes, Gibson, and many other publications, and has over 75 million views on YouTube. Dr Zwig has released 7 albums and his songs can regularly be heard on NBC, Fox, and Fuel TV. His forthcoming book, Music in the Mayhem: Tales of Total Transformation from a Rock n Roll Psychotherapist, arrives soon.
DISCLAIMER: The content contained herein is for inspirational, educational, and entertainment purposes only. Nowhere in this Exercise does Dr. Zwig diagnose or treat a viewer with any kind of psychological, mental, emotional or physical disorder as might be diagnosed and treated by a personal psychologist or other professional advisor. The content is not intended to be a substitute for working with a therapist but is for the purpose of educating the viewer about new approaches to working on personal problems. Viewers should use this Exercise at their own risk, with the understanding that Dr. Zwig is not liable for its impact or effect on its users. Viewing this Exercise does not form a practitioner/client relationship between the viewer and Dr. Zwig. Dr. Zwig is not responsible for any action taken by a viewer based upon any information in this Exercise. Never disregard professional medical advice or stop taking psychiatric medication based on something you have read in this Exercise without a doctor’s supervision and ongoing therapeutic support. Dr. Zwig is an educator, author, and life coach in the U.S., and a psychotherapist in Switzerland. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology. He is also a rock n roll musician.