Letting Go: Envy, Rivalry, and Reconnecting
“Comparison with myself brings improvement, comparison with others brings discontent.” —Betty Jamie Chung
In our previous lessons, we discussed rough patches, boundaries, and complaining. For our final lesson, we’ll be discussing another common threat to friendship: a comparison. Then, we will finish up our course with some thoughts on reconnecting with former friends.
Comparison that Leads to Resentment
When resentment rears its ugly head in a friendship, it can be very difficult to continue the relationship in a healthy way.
Resentment usually crops up in a friendship as a result of comparison and envy. One friend compares themselves to the other and begins to feel inferior or dissatisfied. Instead of handling these feelings in a rational way, an individual can end up unconsciously blaming their friend for the feelings.
Resentment can lead to emotional manipulation, such as:
• Demanding sympathy for the perceived inequality
• Requiring more sacrifice from the supposedly privileged friend
• Demanding that the other friend share resources because of the perceived inequality
• Punishing a friend—often in sly ways—because they have something we lack
While these manipulations may be subtle or disguised as rightful and fair, resentment is not a sound motivator in friendship. One friend is blaming and shaming the other for being more successful, for having access to more resources, and sometimes simply for being a more pleasant and hard-working person.
Rather than investing in self-development, this person seeks to hold those around him/her back. In that way, he or she can feel better (or at least, less lonely) about their lack of personal progress.
Comparison that Leads to Competition
Some who fall into the trap of comparison do not sink into envy. Instead, they begin to see friendship as a rivalry.
This unhealthy spirit of competition hampers meaningful communication. Every idea, and especially every achievement, becomes an occasion for rivalry. “If they pursue that, should I pursue it too?” “If they succeed at that, I have to catch up and succeed at something similar.” “If they tell story A, I have to top it with story B.”
A healthy friendship is one in which friends can appreciate each other’s ideas and accomplishments while remaining secure in their own ideas and accomplishments. In this way, any imitation that occurs will have arisen out of inspiration rather than comparison, and be fueled by positive energy rather than negative energy.
Growing Apart, and Growing as a Person: Re-Evaluating Friendships
From time to time, it’s a good idea to evaluate your circle of friends. Don’t fall back into the romantic notions of friendship we covered in Lesson Two! Remember, you can and should be proactive in your own social life. Ask yourself, “How is this group working for me? Are there issues I need to address?” For example, you might need to consider negativity and balance.
• Negativity. If you’re dealing with envy, rivalry, complaining, or other problems with negativity, it may be time to confront your friend or to let the friendship go. If you’re the negative person, then it’s time to look in the mirror and make some changes!
• Balance. A good question to ask is, “How balanced is my circle of friends?” Is there too much of one thing, and not enough of something else? Is it time to reach out and try to meet new people? Do you need to put more time into developing and deepening the friendships that already work?
Finally, you may want to consider reconnecting with former friends. If there’s someone you used to be close to, but you’ve grown apart, ask yourself why that is, and if you should try to change it.
You might ask:
• What was our friendship like?
• Did we grow apart accidentally, or were there significant reasons?
• Who contacted whom last? How was the conversation?
If you do decide to reach out, take things slowly. The other person may be very lukewarm about being contacted. If so, it may be best to let that friendship go.
Even if your friend shows enthusiasm, you should still be slow in your approach to re-connecting. You’re both the same people, it’s true—but in many ways, you’re probably very different than you were before. It’s important to recognize that a reconnected friendship is essentially a new friendship, but with baggage. Allow it to unfold naturally, and try to keep an attitude of “seeing what develops” rather than “having expectations.”
Don’t cling, and don’t push away. Be flexible and open. After all, friendship is a cycle. It begins, it grows, and sometimes, it fades. Nevertheless, even from the faded experiences of the past, we can find new possibilities for the future. People change, and so do friendships. That’s a good thing.
Note: you can learn more about reconnecting and re-starting dormant friendships in our networking course, Building a Network for Success.
1. For your final lesson in our course, first, complete a five-minute freewriting session of your thoughts and reflections about this lesson. Freewriting is simply jotting down whatever thoughts come to your mind, freely! Don’t think too much about format, punctuation, or flow. By freewriting, we can ignore the rules of grammar and composition, allowing us to focus more on our ideas and feelings. Sometimes we tap into ideas we didn’t realize consciously before!
2. Then, look over all of the journal exercises you’ve completed. Skim through your responses and action steps. What stands out to you the most? What do you feel is the most important thing that you’ve learned?
3. Finally, write down a one-sentence summary of the main thing that you personally are taking away from each lesson.
Well, that’s a wrap for this class! Thank you for joining us.
If you enjoyed this course, consider enrolling in another! We’ve made several other courses that will help you excel in your career:
Finally, please submit feedback for this course to let us know what you liked about the course and what we can do to improve. And don’t forget to check out our website at SVinvestorsclub.com for free career advice and articles on how to become a better investor.
Best of luck with your endeavors to develop and strengthen your friendships!
From Jordan and Joe
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