We grow and form our personal convictions based, mostly, on what we hear from our parents and teachers. Because of them, we are led to believe that if we are decent, kind, steadfast and hardworking, other people will like and accept us.
One of the most unpleasant surprises we get as teenagers is when we learn that these qualities actually attract hostility more often than love. It does, however, seem logical that being virtuous will make people love us, so most of us work hard to get there.
The only ones who don’t are those who lack the necessary inner strength to control their aggressive impulses or renounce instant pleasure in favor of deferred gratification.
Therefore, there are two kinds of adults: those who overcame these inner challenges and evolved, and those who couldn’t get past these first and crucial stumbling blocks, but now do their best to hide their flaws. The former win the first important battle in life, that of “taming” their self-destructive impulses, and now hold the characteristics we unanimously call virtues.
Then, what happens? The ones who failed at this battle become resentful and feel humiliated because they lack these qualities. This is important to understand, because no matter what they say, they know exactly what a virtue is, and fully appreciate its value; the only reason they don’t have these attributes is because it requires an effort they are unable to make.
Either way, the people who failed to develop these desirable qualities – yet enjoy acting as if they were above it all and indifferent to moral issues – feel humiliated and, therefore, assailed, by the mere existence of such virtues in other people.
They find themselves wanting and annoyed by the existence of the virtues they’d love to have. Their vanity is hurt and, as they can’t control their aggressive impulses very well, they go on the offensive.
Of course, it has to be a subtle offensive, lest their envy is revealed – envy is an aggressive reaction to a presumed assault to one’s vanity; the envious person feels belittled and attacked because of their own inadequacy in face of qualities they admire.
Yes, because envious people admire the ones they envy; it would make no sense otherwise. In fact, understanding that the bad guy envies the good guy is one of the reasons why I’ve always had hope in the future of humankind.
The subtle aggressions of envy are destructive to the victim because, among other reasons, it often comes from people we hoped loved us.
After all, we work so hard to get results exactly because we want to be loved. It is hard for a son to understand that his qualities cause conflicting emotions in his father: admiration turns into envy, so the father resents the son’s good performance.
The same happens between mothers and daughters, although there are several exceptions in which admiration does not give way to envy.
Envy’s barbs, digs and depreciating jabs are very common between siblings (forever rivals), spouses and in every other social and professional relationship.
It is almost impossible for a person to stand out due to their virtues or especial skills without being the object of envious hostility’s huge negative energy.
The worst part is that it’s counterintuitive to how we were raised; being envied for our qualities comes as an unexpected shock. It is such a disappointment that many become unbalanced once they reach success, and it brings loneliness – which is the exact opposite of what they wanted.
Some resort to drugs and quickly destroy all they accomplished, so they won’t be envied anymore.
This is not only sad; it’s inevitable in the current stage of our emotional development. If at least we’d been raised in a different way, with more honesty and less illusions, we’d been prepared for reality. Every illusion brings disillusion!
Most people never imagine, for instance, the dilemmas and disappointments beauty brings to girls, especially when they are also highly intelligent and honorable. They have virtues that are much valued in society, so they end up being the object of unexpected and great hostility. They feel cornered and rarely find their way out, except by ruining some of their qualities.
Tradução: Amanda Morris