We've all felt it at one time or another.
A friend shares a "success" story or a great idea for what is sure to be a future success story, and we gush with praise and excitement on the outside, but on the inside, not so much.
Or that photo on Facebook where our dear one just shines with style and beauty to a crowd of adoring comments and likes, and we work from home and haven't gotten out of our workout clothes or gone out much beyond the supermarket or carpool in days.
And one more, how about when a good friend has found a way to create a business that not only makes money, but also involves her lifelong passion, and it secretly matches pretty much exactly what we would love to create, too.
The list above could actually be much longer, as we all know, but why fuel the fire. Let's instead broaden the scope here to see if we can't get to the root of our jealousy and insecurity.
I, too, am sometimes still momentarily pricked with self-doubt by another's seeming success, especially on a day when I am not feeling overly connected to my spirit.
Several years ago, I looked at this exact hidden part of myself and recognized it as an unhealed wound from my childhood—a shadow that I was really ashamed of because in my heart of hearts, I knew that I wrestled with truly wanting the best for my friends coupled with the fear that their success somehow diminished me.
I can remember as far back as ballet class where I danced six days a week with very strict teachers from Romania. They were hard on students in a way that many would deem unacceptable today.
I recall vividly feeling a mixture of sadness and joy when the teachers picked on my friends instead of me. I remember feeling a mixture of sadness and joy when my teachers praised my friends instead of me.
Even at that young age (I began ballet when I was four), I can still easily conjure up the paradoxical emotions deep within, and the guilt surrounded by overall shame that I felt for kinda wanting the best for my friends and kinda not.
It has taken me years of inner work that has greatly expanded my capacity for self-love, not only to understand on an intellectual level, but more importantly to feel on an interior level, that another's success has nothing to do with me except that it expands the energetic possibility for all of us to succeed at our own dreams.
We are not diminished, and the opportunities in the world have not shrunk because another individual is out there shining her light.
The Universe is an infinite "place" and it responds to our interior output in a way that science is just beginning to uncover.
We are all "mini-creators" on our own unique path. Another cannot ever actually create on our path though we might perceive it to be so.
A large part of greater intimacy with our own soul, of which I continually speak perhaps ad nauseum to many of you, is coming to understand our shadow. This part of the inner work initially was not my favorite, and quite frankly, I resisted it for a long time.
But eventually, if we are on the self-exploration path long enough, we must face the hidden aspects of ourselves that we don't want to see and that we certainly don't want others to see.
And often feeling diminished at friends' successes was definitely one of mine, and then wrapped around it, was the guilt and shame that I felt for loving them, but somehow not always capable of being fully happy for them in their "high" moments. It frequently felt easier to support and encourage friends in their "low" moments than to be authentically excited for them during the former.
As I shone light on this aspect of myself by acknowledging, accepting and even befriending it in an odd way, I realized that it was simply my dear inner child afraid of there not being enough to go around and even more so, MY not being enough just as I am in my "Annieness."
I came to understand that there are millions of paths up the mountaintop. Through many conscious soul to soul experiences, in my "best" moments, I now know myself as ONE with others and all of LIFE.
I began to witness myself more clearly and with less fear when the shadow of diminishment showed itself.
While I have come a long way, I notice sometimes that this particular childhood wound is not fully healed.
At times, when I become aware of another's success, I still feel the sting of self-doubt about my own capabilities and must face my shadow head-on and heart-to-heart once again.
But the difference between now and before is that I instantly recognize the illusion that I am somehow less than because of another's path.
Sharing our shadows—our hidden pain and unhealed wounds—is liberating.
Our vulnerability invites others to be more vulnerable, too.
I talk about inner work a lot in my offerings via blogs and social media. I am finding more and more that it's important for those of us who write and speak about self-exploration to give personal examples of what it looks like up close.
Perhaps soon, I'll share the extreme empathy shadow that led me down the road of years of people-pleasing, which, for me, was always coupled with feelings of deep self-betrayal. When I recall many of those instances, my eyes still become filled with tears as I remember the lack of self-love.
For, from my perspective and experience, ALL of this self-exploration/inner work/personal growth/spiritual development—whatever we desire to name it—has only one dual purpose: A deeply felt realization of SELF-LOVE that is completely intertwined from all directions with ONENESS.