The Envy Trap: Managing Career Envy for Better Mental Health and Success


It’s natural to feel envious of others’ success, especially in the competitive world of careers. However, when this envy becomes overwhelming and turns into a chronic feeling, it can have severe effects on our job satisfaction, efficiency, and mental health and well-being.

At its core, jealousy arises when you compare your circumstances to someone else’s and perceive your own as inferior. This can lead to a powerful mixture of shame, a feeling of being wronged, and wounded pride.

Career envy can manifest in different ways, such as feeling resentful of colleagues who got a promotion, jealous of friends who landed their dream job, or frustrated with yourself for not achieving your goals. Someone else’s success doesn’t seem something to celebrate. Instead, you see their seized opportunity as one which has been swiped from you, when actually your next job could be just around the corner. These feelings can create a sense of inadequacy, lower self-esteem, and increase stress and anxiety levels.

One of the most challenging aspects of career envy is that it’s often hidden, and people don’t talk about it openly. It’s not easy to admit that you feel envious or jealous of others, especially when you’re supposed to be happy for them. However, suppressing these emotions can make them fester and grow, causing further harm to your mental health.

To deal with career envy and protect your mental health, here are some tips to consider:

  • Acknowledge your feelings: The first step to dealing with envy is to acknowledge that you feel it. Don’t try to deny or suppress it, as it can make the emotions more intense. Instead, accept that it’s normal to feel envious at times and that everyone experiences it.
  • Identify the source of envy: Try to pinpoint the specific reasons why you feel envious. Is it because someone got a promotion that you wanted? Or is it because you feel like you’re not making progress in your career? Understanding the root cause can help you develop strategies to address the issue.
  • Reframe your thoughts: Instead of focusing on what others have that you don’t, try to shift your thoughts positively. For instance, if someone got a promotion, instead of thinking that it should have been you, remind yourself that it’s an opportunity for you to learn from them and improve your skills.
  • Celebrate others’ success: When someone else achieves success, try to celebrate with them genuinely. Offer congratulations, express enthusiasm, and share their joy. This can help you build positive relationships and foster a supportive work environment.
  • Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself is crucial in managing career envy. Make sure to engage in activities that you enjoy, such as hobbies, exercise, or spending time with loved ones. These activities can help you relax, recharge, and boost your mood.
  • You are not alone! Seek support: Talking to someone about your feelings can be helpful. Consider confiding in a trusted friend, family member, or a mental health professional. They can provide a listening ear, offer advice, and help you develop coping strategies.

In summary, career envy can be a toxic emotion that causes significant harm to our mental health. However, it’s a common phenomenon, and it’s essential to acknowledge these feelings, identify the underlying cause, and develop strategies to manage them.

By taking steps to manage our envy and reframe our thoughts, we cannot only feel better about ourselves, but we can also build stronger relationships with our colleagues and create a more positive work environment. Remember that everyone’s journey is different, and your worth is not defined by your job title or salary as success comes in many forms. It’s okay to admire and aspire to our colleagues’ achievements, but we must also celebrate our own unique accomplishments and focus on our own personal growth and career goals. By doing so, we can thrive in our careers and lead fulfilling, successful lives.