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Jul 062011
Reading Time: 8 minutes

When green is not good: the cost of envy in relationships

Friends are great.  They love you. You have fun together. They uplift you. They are your support system. Friends are a great blessing.

Usually. But there are times when you need to see beyond the surface because you may be receiving (or dishing out) toxic emotions in the form of envy from or towards  some friends.

When someone you love envies you, it hurts.  So you turn a blind eye. But it won’t go away. It will only increase. And your self-esteem will be the worse for it.


A Nasty Shade of Green

So open your eyes and see what needs to be seen. Find out if you are green with envy or if envy from a so-called-friend is exacting a big price from you.

Here’s a self-assessment list.

  • This person interrupts others whenever they are saying something good about you or giving you great feedback.
  • She rarely gives you positive feedback and when she does, it’s followed by a request for something.
  • She makes devaluing remarks when someone praises your talent, character or work. Here are a few: “Yes, I’ve done that before, and it was really good” or “I have a friend who does that very well” or “It’s almost professional” or “Did you really do this?”
  • When someone is appreciating something you created, she puts her own work on top or drives attention to what herself.
  • You’ve caught bitter moues in her face when someone is praising you.
  • She talks badly or negatively of others who have achieved success.
  • She seems to sympathize with you when you are down and make mistakes, but not when you are up and do great work.
  • She devalues other people’s accomplishments, with comments like “it was easy for her because…” or “He’s so and so’s son. He has the money to do it.”
  • At the end of a day in her company, you feel exhausted or your self-esteem is diminished.
  • The proportion of give and take in the relationships is more than 75% you give and less than 25% she gives.
  • When you show her something you’ve done and you are proud of, she somehow manages to make you feel insecure, though she may not give you an overtly negative feedback.
  • When people share their dreams with her, she focuses on the negative.
  • When you give her something, she often does not receive it honestly, but ignores it, ignores the offer, devalues the gift or seems NOT to register that you are giving it. THEN she asks for it or manipulates the situation to get it. This is a particularly sneaky. She is not RECEIVING. If she does, she feels in debt. But then she is TAKING, which makes her feel powerful and gives her the sense that she does not owe you anything, therefore she does not have to be grateful.
  • When someone offers you an opportunity in front of her, she begins to compete or offers her own talents or projects to the person. Or she subtly makes you feel uncomfortable if you do not include her in the opportunity.


What to do if you are at the Receiving end of Envy

So you are at the receiving end of envy. What do you do?

STEP 1: See what you see even if it hurts

The first thing is to see what you see. Stop covering up or being on denial. It hurts. Fine. Feel the pain but see the truth. You cannot change what you don’t see.

STEP 2: Double Check or Track Down the Patterns

The second thing, if possible, is to get a second opinion. If you have a positive, supportive and discreet mutual friend that you can double check with, this can validate your perception and help you release doubts. There is always a chance that you are PROJECTING your own envy on the other. Your friend may help you to see if there is any foundation to your feelings. See the last section of this article if this is the case.

If your friend is positive and not given to gossip, but honest and with your best interest in mind, then she may confirm your suspicions.

But it may also happen that she has not catch on to it, if the person is subtle.

The other way to see the patterns, without second opinion, is to track down the patterns. Keep observing the patterns of the friend’s behavior until you are sure one way or the other.

Step 3: Loving Detachment

Do not judge. I know this seems to contradict steps 1 and 2. But seeing the truth and placing limits are not the same as judging. Judgement comes from the Shadow part of you. It will place you in the same energy frequency of the envious person. There is an element of judgment in envy. But when you judge others you are usually projecting your own self-judgment.

The important element here is your self-esteem and wellbeing. Do not focus on her. Practice Loving Detachment, so that you can let go of trying to change her or obsessing about her. Loving Detachment acknowledges that we all learn in different ways and that a person’s actions are simply her choice of how to learn, not necessarily malice.

Step 4: Double your Support Supply

Once you track down the patterns, you are going to begin to see things that you had not observed before. It hurts. A lot. If you really love this person and had considered her to be a good friend, then it hurts even more.

You may begin to hear streaming thoughts that diminish your confidence, such as “What’s wrong with me?” “What have I done to offend her?” and things like that.

STOP! This is not about you.

Double your support supply. Find friends and relatives who really love and support you. Do things that nurture your self-esteem. You need a lot of TLC at this time. Make sure to give it to yourself.

STEP 5: Distance yourself

While you are nurturing your self-esteem and processing your feelings, distance yourself from the person. Don’t tell her anything. Chances are that she is not aware of what she is doing. She may even interpret her actions so that she sees herself as a victim. If you confront her, the relationship may soon become highly toxic. LET GO!

This may be a permanent release or not, but for the moment, distance yourself with any good excuse or without any explanation at all. This will help you grieve and give you time to recover and to decide what you want to do next.

STEP 6: Do what’s best for YOU!

Now is the time to decide what is best for you.

Option 1: Let it slide.

If you have lots of genuinely supportive friends and this friend is not a main force in your life, you may simply decide to change the way you relate to her while keeping her in your life. See the fourth option for ideas.

Option 2: Love them, but leave them

If, however, she is a main player and you realize that she has been poisoning your self-esteem, career or relationships, it’s time to say goodbye. Like I say, love them, but leave them. Do this in a loving way, without blaming or judging, but firmly.

Do not try to explain. Chances are she will not understand and the thing will get worse. You may step into a Toxic Field in her psyche and it can get ugly. So find a gentle, socially agreeable way to distance yourself temporarily and then prolong it. This may sound sneaky or deceitful, but your honesty is now for yourself. You cannot change others. You can only change yourself

Option 3: Relationship Makeover

If during the tracking (Step 2), you realize that you are a Toxic Magnet and attract way too many toxic people who spread envy, jealousy, negativity and other toxic energy in your life, it’s time for a relationship makeover.

You need to place this relationship in the context of your own patterns, together with other toxic relationship. It may be time to clean house. If this is the case, make sure to find expert help and ask for extra support from your positive, loving friends.

Then sit down and use the self-assessment on all those relationships you see as toxic. See your patterns. What are you afraid of? When did you learn to attract and tolerate toxic people? Did your mother, sibling or same gender parent acted with jealousy towards you? How does your Inner Child feel? What does she need? Why have you turn a blind eye or tolerated this before?  It’s time to look deeper and release old patterns of relationship that may be holding you back.

If you need to clean house, you may want to create a new, socially agreeable script to explain your distancing, change some of the places you frequent, turn on your telephone machine for a while and do any other strategy that will make it easier to release these toxic friends without stressing yourself too much.

As you leave old toxic friends, make sure to attend new events and seek new circles where you can find positive, supportive and joyful people.

Option 4: Practice setting limits

A fourth option is to set limits to this person. Whenever she begins to one-up you or spill green gasses on you, change your response. Here are several ideas.

  • Bring the attention back to yourself and affirm your value with joy and authority.
  • Cut her short if she has interrupted you or someone who was praising you. Say something like “Wait, I really want to hear this.”
  • Set limits to negative talk. Say something like “You know, I don’t like the negativity in this conversation. Let’s switch to a more positive, compassionate, joyful or loving perspective.”
  • Give her positive, loving attention every time you meet. Then set limits if she starts undermining you.
  • Cut the meeting short if you begin to feel tired or call for reinforcements from positive, loving people.

This fourth option transforms the problem into a path to grow a stronger self-esteem, affirm your authority and set limits. This option is tough, but it may actually generate powerful healing and transformation in your life. Remember, though, that this is about YOU. Do not try to change the other person.


For resources for these options:

See my other posts on toxic relationships:






What if you are the one Emitting Green Gasses?

If you recognized that you often behave in envious, toxic ways towards your friends or towards some friends, congratulations! This acknowledgment takes a great deal of honesty and courage. It is the first step towards transforming the Green Grasses of Envy into fertile green grass for your dreams!

Envy is a feeling that reveals something essential to us. It reveals that at some level, we want, need or miss something that the other person has or is.

Let’s say that you are listening to praise for a friend and you suddenly begin to call attention to yourself, feel envious or interrupt. This signals that you also need attention. Instead of giving into the envy by adopting its Shadow behavior, transmute this into the light by the following process:

STEP 1: Acknowledge your envy

Envy is a feeling. There are no bad feelings. Accept what is without projecting it onto others or acting in sabotaging ways to the other.

STEP 2: Ask your Inner Child what she needs.

Become a loving mother to your Inner Child. When you see a little child acting with envy, you usually try to educate her and to give her the needs she is expressing in healthy ways. Do the same to your Inner Child. Ask her what she needs. What is she missing, needing or wanting that she envies in her friend? Perhaps is attention, creativity, mastery, beauty, love, supportive friends, a feeling of being good and deserving.

STEP 3: Fulfill these needs

Once you know what the Inner Child needs, fulfill these needs. If the child needs attention, give her attention. If she wants to explore her creativity, then set fun time for her to do it. If she wants mastery, make a commitment to master your craft. If there is an aspect of yourself, let’s say the dancer, writer or spiritual master that you have neglected and you see that you envy this in your friend, then give yourself permission to explore this.

You may, if you feel safe, ask this friend to become your mentor or support you on exploring the gifts you have that are similar to them. Or simply use her as a role model. Every time you feel envy, stop, breathe deeply, and transform the envy into an opportunity to learn from this person. Begin by acknowledging what she has or is that you admire. Accept or express that you would like to explore this. Ask for help or simply proceed to find inspiration.

Transforming envy into inspiration is an Act of Power for yourself and an Act of Love for your friends.


Light and love,

Maria Mar

The Dream Alchemist




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About Maria Mar

Maria Mar is a Sacred Storyteller and shaman who champions you to change your old limiting story to create the new story of your brilliance illuminating the world. She helps you awaken your magic, express your creative genius, embody your purpose and live your potential now.

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