Do you ever look at friends and find yourself mad or upset because they have free time? They don’t have a relative that needs help? You might even wish they had it harder, had some real challenge in their life. And then you feel guilty. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Envy is a natural human emotion. It can be very strong—and unpleasant to experience.
Tips for easing envy
- Acknowledge your feelings. We are taught that envy is wrong or shameful. It’s usually an unconscious way to mask a more difficult emotion. It may be easier to be mad at others than acknowledge your sadness or resentment toward the person you care for. Look for the other feelings beneath your envy.
- Identify your needs. Envy is a response to loss. Picture that friend who triggers your envy. What is it they have that you don’t? A social life? Time for themself? A well partner? Their health? You may feel you no longer have control over your life. Do these concerns ring a bell?
- Share your feelings. If not with friends, consider a caregiver support group, or talk with a counselor. Getting your feelings out in the open will help you gain perspective and support.
- Strategize to get some time off. As impossible as it may seem to take a break, envy is a sign that you need to recapture some of your noncaregiving self. Rather than let it corrode your spirit, use envy as a warning sign that some free time is in order.
- Find the positives. Some say that envy is counting the blessings of others. Consider, instead, what caregiving has contributed to your life. Perhaps you have developed greater patience and compassion or learned valuable new skills.