Why Envy is toxic

Posted on April 25, 2014 by Ros Coward0 Comments


A very wise friend who was also a psychotherapist had just listened to my litany of complaints about a female colleague.  I was bothered by how little interest she took in things I had done, how little acknowledgement of my  work, and most of all by her constant put downs and snide remarks  about activities I was involved with. ‘Envy’ said my friend.  ‘Classic envious behaviour.  She doesn’t want you to have anything and what you have got she wants to spoil .’

It was obvious that  the two of us might be competitive.   We were in the same area of work, both trying to publish in the same outlets with children roughly the same age who had taken remarkably similar pathways. And while competitiveness is nothing to be proud of in such a situation – after all we could just become best friends with similar interests – nor is it that unusual, especially in an unsupportive work environment. But as my psychotherapist friend pointed out, envy is  different from competitiveness .Competitiveness, at its worse, might entail  flaunting your latest news and achievements, showing off, or trying to have or be the best.  But envy is  destructive. Envy isn’t just about trying to go one better. Envy is a grudge-bearing emotion, arising from wanting to spoil what the other person has or enjoys,  including any good feelings they might have about their achievements. .

Read the full article on the new website: welldoing.org


As good as it gets

As national parents week gets underway, Ros Coward asks whether we ever really know if we’re doing it right

The British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott was the first to work with the idea of “the good-enough parent”. He illustrated its meaning by describing possible interactions between a mother, a baby on the point of crawling, and an interesting toy just out of the baby’s reach. The too-good mother can’t bear the baby’s frustration and immediately hands the toy to the baby. The not-good-enough mother leaves the baby too long with its frustrations. The good-enough mother allows the baby to explore its own capacities but not so long that frustration turns to despair.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2001/oct/24/familyandrelationships.roscoward

How we let Denise down

Yes, James Bulger’s mother is bitter. She has every right to be.

Perhaps the most distasteful aspect of the furore surrounding the release of James Bulger’s killers is the subtle but persistent vilification of the Bulger family in the liberal media. Sunday’s Panorama programme presented Ralph Bulger as “chilling” in his intention, stated last year but since withdrawn, to harm Venables and Thompson. Meanwhile, Denise Bulger (now Fergus) is under constant scrutiny for bitterness towards her son’s killers. Charlotte Raven’s description in this paper of her “pinched-lipped grief” was the most extreme, but others have also compared her unfavourably with more forgiving mothers.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/jul/03/bulger.comment

World news Yobs ahead. Tally ho!

With a little imagination Jack Straw could fix two tricky issues at a stroke

Jack Straw has a problem. Try as he might to offer new initiatives to deal with problem families and delinquents, some refuse all offers of redemption. So at this week’s conference, if advanced leaks are correct, groundwork will be laid for two new policies: one soft, the other hard. One proposes to support families with ‘personal carers’, upgrading registrars to advise on marital counselling, naming ceremonies and family responsibilities.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/1998/sep/29/guardiancolumnists.jackstraw