• Lynn Mattina

Expectation, Envy and Value

Updated: Jul 14, 2019

Have all the things you longed for and expect in this life feel out of reach? Are you struggling to grasp your objective while others seem to reach success so easily? Does happiness seem elusive but achievable only for others? Does the burning of envy cause you to be angry? We will all feel this emotion more than once in our lives. It is called one of the seven deadly sins for a reason!

Seems like so many of us have an empty place inside which continually antagonizes us about failure. Where we "should be" in any particular season fills us with anxiety. We have high needs of expectation for our lives that want to be – or should be – filled with joy, success and the feeling of winning. The thing is, our lives are actually fine until we see something better or someone achieves "our" higher success. We feel the scarcity of being without. When we assume we should look or be a certain way, have more money, have the better job, be important and have value etc., expectation becomes such a burden that we can start to avoid our lives and who we were created to be. Avoidance can look like drugs, alcohol addictions, anger, bitterness, consistent illness and destructive behaviors with jealousy at the roots. Envy and expectation of who we should be can derail us into horrible downspirials of feeling the loss of value. Envy is miserable and everyone will experience this emotion more than once in their life. It's human nature!

"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

Oscar Wilde

Most places that hold such high expectations are social categories that we put ourselves into. These places are filled with assumptions of social stigmas that surround us. It's no wonder we wear bandaids and masks to overcome the burden of who we feel we need to become. This evolves from a feeling of scarcity and being left behind. It's seeing only one available high prize and resenting the person who has it. Someone winning the lottery is a great example. Have you ever felt resentful of the undeserving person who just won millions? Your question might be, "Why not me?" I've seen so many young men who have a mid-life crisis at 30 years old. Society puts such pressure on success that when a young man can't reach his lofty expectations of what his life "should be" by 30, his personal comparisons lead him into an emotional crisis. We feel that if someone reaches "spectacular" before us, than somehow they are better.

Below is a quote written by Daniel Boorstin. He was a historian, professor, attorney and writer. He was appointed twelfth Librarian of the United States Congress from 1975 until 1987. In his quote about "Assumptions," you might find a piece of yourself woven between the lines

“When we pick up the newspaper at breakfast, we expect - we even demand - that it brings us momentous events since the night before...

We expect our two-week vacations to be romantic, exotic, cheap, and effortless.

We expect anything and everything.

We expect the contradictory and the impossible.

We expect compact cars which are spacious; luxurious cars which are economical.

We expect to be rich and charitable, powerful and merciful, active and reflective, kind

and competitive.

We expect to be inspired by mediocre appeals for excellence, to be made literate by illiterate appeals for literacy...

To go to 'a church of our choice' and yet feel its guiding power over us, to revere God and to be God.

Never have people been more the masters of their environment. Yet never has a people felt more deceived and disappointed. For never has a people expected so much more than the world could offer.”

Daniel J. Boorstin

Insecurity and scarcity

This is the belief that you're not going to get yours or that you should've already been above another person in your success. These are all the thought processes that go into our feelings. A thought process can be changed! That's good news. But maybe it sounds too simple? When you continually compare yourself to situations or experiences that put yourself down, the pattern of looking for evidence to make yourself feel badly causes disparity and then depression. Our minds are constantly scanning for the truth. When we find something that agrees with our past understandings within our history and experiences, we agree. Even if that is negative or false. What if you turned someone else's success into a positive and didn't turn it back on you? What If someone else's success became your encouragement and a possibility for your own life?

Matthew 6: 25-34

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?..."


Competition and being without

Consider social rankings. We make sense of our world through social comparisons. Even primates pay attention to social rankings. Every member is keenly aware of where they stand within their social status. Primates will produce extreme anxiety if they see another primate getting more than they are. Not only primates have social status but also a family of wolves, elephants, meerkats, a pack of dogs or a clutter of cats. The list goes on. Consider FaceBook. It can make us more competitive with others. We continually judge ourselves with the happiness others appear to have. Better and happier family events, sexier profile pictures, amazing vacation experiences that we feel may never be attainable to us. Another may seem to be engaged with a happier and more affluent lifestyle than we could ever experience. We constantly judge ourselves and our situations. This decreases our joy. The elevated social anxieties make it feel like we have less and are missing out on something we will never have or be part of. It author's feelings of being less valuable. If I have less value, than what is my life worth? What am I worth? I don't belong... and th