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, and author - is an internationally renowned workshop leader and lecturer, has had 9 Top Ten hit singles on the U.S Adult Contemporary charts, and has over 70 million views on YouTube. He has been featured in Billboard, Huffington Post, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Forbes, and Gibson. 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.