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The 5 signs of envy: how to recognize it in people

The 5 signs of envy: how to recognize it in people

June 15, 2024

There is something we often forget: our way of knowing ourselves goes through compare the experiences that happen to us with those that happen around us . Living in society is something indispensable to form what we call self-concept, which is the set of ideas that we associate with the "I". To judge and assess those characteristics in which we stand out for good or for bad, we must see how the rest of the people are doing.

This, for some things, is positive, since it allows us to demand that injustices be corrected. But it also has its bad side, since favors the appearance of envy .

  • Related article: "Psychology of envy: 5 keys to understand it"

The 5 signs of envy

Envy is what happens when there is a state of discomfort caused by the comparison between oneself and others, and the result of this mental operation we do not like. It is a phenomenon closely related to self-esteem, because it appears when it is threatened by new information about third parties with whom we believe we can compare.


However, envy is not a negative thing just because it makes us feel bad. In addition, it is for how it interferes in the way we relate . On the one hand, as we will see, there is a reason to show a certain hostility to the person we envy. On the other, envy is something socially badly seen, so that whoever experiences it tries to hide that it feels that way, even if he manages to make his passive-aggressive or directly aggressive attitude toward the other apparently rationally justified. .

But nevertheless, there are ways to know approximately when a person acts by envy . Whoever feels this way is not capable of masking all the causes that move her to behave in a certain way, for different reasons. In the following lines we will review several signs that denote envy. The fact that one or two of them are present does not mean that what is happening is just a problem of wounded egos, but in general, they help to understand what happens by chance.


1. Badly justified animosity

One of the characteristics of envy, as we have seen, is that it arises from self-esteem in a compromised or damaged state. That makes the emotional impact of these comparisons generate something that in psychology is known as cognitive dissonance .

This phenomenon has to do with the discomfort that appears when a piece of information comes into contradiction with a deeply rooted belief and whose defense defines us as people. Paradoxically, what usually happens in these cases is not that we try to readjust our ideas to have a more realistic understanding of what is happening, but we make the minimum changes necessary to assimilate those data.

In the case of envy, one of the ways in which cognitive dissonance is resolved is to assume that the person with whom one is compared is someone who is contemptible, so that what at first might seem a threat to our self-esteem ends up being a sign of vanity , a deception to have a good image before others, a trick, an illegitimate use of the efforts of others to take credit, etc.


  • Related article: "Cognitive dissonance: the theory that explains self-deception"

2. Use of jokes and sarcasm to attack

Under the effects of envy, the person feels in the dilemma of expressing his hostility while trying to be superior to the person with whom the comparison has arisen.

This means that ambiguous ways of attacking are used, as for example through supposed jokes and sarcasm, since they allow to have a dominant role (even for a few seconds) without it seems that there is a certain need to satisfy one's ego for decrease cognitive dissonance

So, what really is a way to alleviate the discomfort that is felt, is disguised as signs of wit or even affability. Is It is one of the most frequent signs of envy .

3. Unjustified outbursts of anger

This is not something that happens in all people who feel envy, but only in some of more impulsive character. As the damage to self-esteem gives grounds to feel hostility for someone, it may happen that they look for excuses to attack the person who considers themselves better than oneself. In this sense, something that can be interpreted as a way to boast of one's merits It can be almost unbearable for someone who is going through one of those "envious stages".

4. Replicas in the presence of more people

In envy, the fact that there are more people listening causes discomfort to increase before what is interpreted as samples of superiority of the other.

This happens especially if the personal characteristic in which one feels attacked is something relatively unique or uncommon. For example, if in a meeting there are two poets who are recognized for their talent, the two artists who feel more threatened by the abilities of another will have more reason to feel attacked, because remaining silent would be like giving attention to the other person and make him "sell" himself to others as he wants.

5. Defamation

It's quite typical, because talking badly about someone behind their back is seen as an easy way to undermine your public image from a relative safety , without giving him the opportunity to show that in reality the only thing that is looked for is to cause damage so that it is easier to think that that person is not "a competitor", since nobody takes it seriously.

Conclusion: jealousy is cured at home

It must be clear that the basis of the problem of jealousy has basically to do with an injured self-esteem. That is the problem is of oneself, and not of the other .

It is possible that a mentality very focused on competitiveness and constant comparisons makes us more vulnerable to this psychological phenomenon. Therefore, it is good to change both the concept we have of ourselves and our philosophy of life.

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