Coworker Envy? Here’s Why That Jealousy’s Holding You Back

Apr 02, 2014 - Joe Matar

‘Fess up. Are you that employee who gets envious of a peer's success? That coworker, who was hired about a week before you, seems to have something delightful to say to everyone -- even the boss. She turns heads when she walks through the door. In meetings, people listen to her. And is it your imagination, or is she getting better assignments than you?

Our relationship to power and success can often color both our self-image and how we view others. Someone who’s experiencing self-doubt and questioning her own success does the obvious thing: She compares herself to others who seem more at ease, more knowledgeable and more dominant and confident.

To be successful in your career, it's essential to let go of comparing yourself to others. Without comparisons, jealousy and envy can't exist. Not only are behaviors associated with jealousy and envy unattractive, but these behaviors will also prevent you from achieving success. That's because success depends on high self-esteem.

Sounds right -- but how do you let go of jealousy and envy to build up your self-esteem? Here's how:

Turn your attitude around

Pay attention to every time you find yourself obsessing about a coworker who seems to attract more attention and opportunities than you do. When you catch yourself comparing yourself to her, stop and shift your mindset. Focus on what you do have and what you're grateful for in life, not what you're lacking. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

For example, you were hired on the basis of your academic record, intelligence, problem-solving abilities and experience. Take a mental inventory of your pluses, and think about how lucky you are to have a good job and career prospects.

Give others what you most desire

Enlist this secret to success: If you want to be appreciated, appreciate others. If you want your work to be valued, value others' work. If you want attention, pay attention to others. If you want a successful career, help another's career to flourish. What goes around comes around when you surrender comparisons.

Learn from a rival's positive points

Here's an easy way to quickly transform those negative feelings of jealousy into a more productive frame of mind. Get your mind off what you think you lack. Ask yourself what you can learn from someone who has the success you desire. As Yoko Ono has said, "Transform jealousy to admiration, and what you admire will become part of your life."

Wish a rival well

This may be hard or even feel impossible, but try to imagine yourself seeing the world through that other person's eyes. When you can do this, it enables you to feel compassion and empathy.

Think to yourself, "I hope she succeeds and gets everything she needs and wants out of this job." As soon as you do this, you can easily let go of jealousy and attract more success.

Surrendering comparisons lets you put your eyes back on your own self and your own success -- where they belong -- instead of wasting energy obsessing on others people's good fortune or beating yourself up.

Even if you don't completely mean what you say during this exercise, fake it until you make it. Often, having the right intention and choosing the higher ground (even if you're not totally there yet) precedes an attitude change.

When your heart is in the right place, you'll become what you want to be. Praise yourself for all the baby steps you make in the direction of self-compassion and gratitude for your life.

Judith Orloff, M.D. is author of a new book, The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life (April 1, 2014), which this article is based on. Learn more at