The Seven Deadly Sins: Envy vs. Self-Awareness

I’m starting a series of posts that focus on "The Seven Deadly Sins" and how they relate to attention deficit. They’ll spring up every once in a while, so keep your eyes peeled…

“‘When I see a man my own age in great shape, and I feel all conflicted, wishing I were that thin and yet at the same time wanting to lick him, is that jealousy or is that appreciation?’”
-Anne Lamott on her “slightly overweight alcoholic gay Catholic priest,” Bird by Bird (pg.127)

If I could teach the world one quality it would be self-awareness. Altruism is excellent, of course, but without self-compassion how can we truly affect others in benevolent and selfless ways?

We ADHD'rs have a reputation for looking outside ourselves, rather than in. While you shouldn’t believe every stereotype about ADHD, we do crave novelty and that’s usually found externally. However, by minding our feelings and behaviors we greatly benefit from gained self-awareness.

Although considered a “deadly” sin, jealously offers opportunities to develop self-understanding. Let me explain…When jealously rears its ugly head, you find yourself envying someone’s talent, success, fame, beauty, whatever fuels your mojo… but the best strategy I've learned to cope with these hard feelings is by recognizing them and their sources.

The curious thing about jealousy is that it genuinely arises from admiration. If you flip what you once envied on its head and instead acknowledge, "Wow. Look at how far he/she excelled" or "I hope to achieve that mastery in my own life" you morph your angst into its positive.

The next step I’ve learned to harness envy takes practice. After acknowledging its source, commend the other person for his/her [fill-in-the-blank]. In theory, this seems counter-intuitive or like, well, brown-nosing, but in practice, your feelings change toward that other person. You nurture a bond while encouraging your jealously to morph into admiration.

In my post ADHD Meltdowns: Don't be a Honey Badger! I explained such reframing exercises. It’s gratifying to step back from an emotionally charged situation and acknowledging it for what it is:
          • First, it calms the situation.
          • Second, it promotes self-understanding about your own nature, quirks, talents, aspirations, and flaws.
(c)2010 Peter Richardson

I'm especially supportive of this exercise when it comes to friendships among women. We bicker, we dissect, we fume...just remember, at the end of the day, we're also each other's support team.

When was the last time you felt envious? Did you overcome it? If so/not how?  

Read the rest of the ADHD & The Seven Deadly Sins series:
Envy vs. Self-Awareness
Gluttony & the ADHD Diet