Envy and NLP: The Dark Side of the Bright Side of Life

Ray Wilkins and Evan Bortnick

Imagine for a moment a good friend in the same line of work as yourself. One day he tells you of an enormous success he’s just had. He landed a big account. He was awarded an enormous spot-bonus. He received a series of very lucrative trainings or lectures. It goes without saying that you’re happy for your friend. At the same time, it also goes without saying (or even knowing), that something burns within you, something clenches, something that is usually politely ignored. I’d venture to say that both reactions, the happiness and the clenching, are normal parts of being human. I’d even venture to say that both are part and parcel of the same basic human need. One is the bright side, the other is the dark side. As someone who’s had his own share of both trying to avoid this darker side and attempting to penetrate it, I believe it is time to elucidate the dynamics of this particular darkness: ENVY!

Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP, has taken the structures of the most effective therapeutic, coaching and ‘self-realization’ practices of Virginia Satir, Fritz Perls, Milton Ericsson, (and later a good number of others), and formed them into learnable, teachable models, methods and techniques. It has a reputation for speed and initial effectiveness. Because of this (and for other reasons I’ll get to later), it’s acquired a reputation for being somewhat superficial, at least in some circles. With basic pre-assumptions like: “There are no mistakes, only feedback, “People make the best choices available to them at the time.”, People have all the resources they need.”, among many others, it’s no wonder that this reputation has gained a strong foothold. NLP and I have so much affinity for just this reason. Even before I began learning and training NLP I was ‘accused’ of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, always looking on the bright side of life, or, in NLP-Jargon, constantly seeking the most positive “ReFrame”.

This has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side it avoids blowing inherent negativity out of proportion and thereby causing your body and spirit unnecessary stress. The “positive bias” which science is just beginning to discover, has enormous health advantages. Research has shown that a slight positively-biased, yet realistic expectation has strong, advantageous, motivational and emotional effects on us. On the negative side, there are processes of transformation and maturity which experience has shown can only be utilized by becoming conscious of pain, stress and trauma. This is contra-intuitive because we tend to do our best to avoid pain. Becoming conscious of it, however, and even emphasizing it, when done effectively, allows a catharsis. In other words, as unpleasant as it may be, going through the ‘dark night of the soul’ is sometimes the only way towards regeneration.

In this sense, I’d like to examine envy as one of our more dark and primary emotions. There are several such strongly negative ‘move-away-from’ emotions. Perhaps because of its inclusion in the so-called seven deadly sins, envy historically has an especially wicked reputation. Without a doubt, an exaggeration of this powerful emotion is poisonous for both our body and soul. Gone unchecked, rampant envy will lead to a whole array of physical illnesses, not to mention its effects on those close to us. At the same time, as with so many negative emotions, trying to ‘make it go away’ will only strengthen its power. The most psycho-logical solution is, of course, to make it more conscious and to allow its transformation. This requires self-knowledge, trust and maturity. The good news is that it actually promotes self-knowledge, trust and maturity! This is true ONLY if it’s done well. If it’s not, it becomes “Re-Traumatisation” or “Repetition Compulsion” and wounds much more than it helps. That’s exactly the negative danger in NLPs tendency towards “as fast as possible”. Examining envy with catharsis as a goal, as an individual or as a community requires a soft touch and a great deal of rapport sensitivity.

Perhaps because of the rapidity of change, combined with the most positive of pre-assumptions about human beings and life, there is in the NLP community an entire swamp of unexamined envy. I know this is a bold assertion and, as always, it is subjective in the extreme. I assert this boldly because this has been my experience, plus it’s been affirmed many times by friends and colleagues in this neck of the world. Important for me to emphasize here, I’m not writing this to point the finger of blame on any individual or organization. I am writing this because I believe communities are not unlike individuals. In this case, what an individual needs to do to transform Envy into more mature forms is just exactly what groups need to do. What this means is to patiently and lovingly examine the specifics of envy and to do the work necessary to understand its origins.

In my present model of the world envy always points towards an important need. Even if this sweeping generalization is not always true, assuming that it might be is an important step towards a very positive introspection. Put in question form; “how does the envy I’m feeling mirror something I want or need?” I know for myself if I hear of some politician who’s just gotten elected, it won’t have any real effect on my inner weather. On the other hand, if I hear about an NLP-trainer, who I have trained, whose practitioner course has twice as many participants as mine, I have to admit to feeling a bit of heart-clenching. If I hear about another young tenor who’s just made his Met debut, to thunderous applause, there it is again, that uncomfortable burning. Why should this be? All three stories are success stories. Why should the later two cause some heart-burn and the former nothing? Easy! I’m identified with both Tenor and with NLP-Trainer and not with politician. What does this mean? Put very simply; it’s something I want, or have wanted. In other words, it’s a goal and consciously, pre-consciously or sub-consciously, it’s on my time-line. As soon as this becomes more conscious and clearer, the burning changes its quality. It’s now ambition, or assertiveness, or motivation, or enthusiasm, or drive.   It almost seems like what I call envy can ONLY take place if it’s pre-conscious and non-examined. When it is, it becomes high-octane fuel for my engine.

Envy is not an enemy it is a friend. Envy as in many human feelings is an emotion that is either avoided, denied or becomes transformed into anger, fear or frustration. When envy becomes destructive it is always a sign that you have the feeling or belief system of not being good enough, or a lack of self-esteem. Automatically the target person who causes this feeling is criticized, insulted and downgraded, causing you for a fleeting moment to feel bigger and better. What happens here exactly is that we fire off automatically on the negative feelings released by the belief system instead of staying glued to the fact or belief that you believe that you do not have enough and suffer from lack of self-esteem (a constructive personal feedback). By slowing down our thought frames we are able to shift to another wave, a wave that takes us to that place within that I call “the pool of wisdom”, the subconscious center of our very being, the place where lies all the answers and resources we will ever need now and in the future. Here the feeling is transformed into something barely believable. This is, at first, difficult to understand or accept. It is the unavoidable ability to love yourself unconditionally. It is kind of ironic when you consider how much fury, rage, hate and self-loathing we are able to tolerate, yet at the same time, our tolerance for the ecstasy of self-love is much less. Self-love shows us the way. Self-Love provides us with the possibilities to change things that build our own personal self-esteem and provides us with a new belief system coming from abundance and not a sense of lack. Self-Love shows us where and how in life we are able to experience abundance and ALWAYS have enough for what we need to do and what we need to live in passion and to love others.

Using envy as a door to self growth not only strengthens your character but it also increases your state of health. Anger, frustration and fear cause tension and hardness within your body. Tension and hardness over a prolonged period of time, creates dis-ease. Whenever you feel yourself falling into envy stop and simply ask yourself TWO questions “What do I need to change in my life to feel more successful?” and ” What do I need to change in my life to experience my life in abundance?”  Allow yourself to recognize envy for what it is, a message to change something in your life. This will lead you to your own very unique pool of wisdom…. automatically. Acknowledge your own bravery for allowing this to happen. User warning: this process may lead to feelings of ecstasy, to thoughts, ideas and feelings that cause you to feel enlightened, so be aware. Ask yourself consciously; how much of this ecstasy, joy, passion and enlightenment can I REALLY accept, with the inner intention of experiencing more and more and more everytime!

Allow the sense of falling into envy induce the sense of falling into LOVE. What is really interesting in this process is that the person who caused envy often becomes a friend, guide or mentor who supports you in reaching your personal and private goals. Perhaps you can even experience thankfulness for the people in your life who evoke envy (at least at first) within you. Notice how often you can transform envy into motivation, ambition, support and love by experimenting with affirmations such as:

“My life is filled with abundance, unconditional love and prosperity in all things that I do.”

“The more I know myself and my REAL needs, the less I feel envy towards those who have that what I desire!”

“A part of me is always wide awake and ready to perceive my own dark and negative emotions, in order to transform these into consciousness, light and love. My shadows protects me always and leads me to success.”

“It is my intention to transform envy into that what lies behind it; desire and passion.”

Imagine a world where envy becomes a motivation to go inside yourself to realize what a wonderful, unique and rich person you really are in all aspects of your life. Imagine a world where everybody knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he or she lives in abundance. Imagine a world where everybody respects and acknowledges the beauty and uniqueness of everybody around them. Imagine a world where rage and war can no longer exist because Envy has been transformed into the desire for Peace.

Just how do we precipitate this transformation? Predictably, the answer to this important question will vary from person to person. What might they have in common? In my experience, the common drive is consciousness!

At least “Seeing is Enough” for that important first step! What happens after that is a question of self-knowledge, experience and practice. Sometimes seeing really is all it takes. That means, instead of calling envy something else, like jealousy, or ambition, or dislike, or disapproval, we call it by its real name. As in the fairy tale “Rumpelstiltskin”, simply by calling something its real name, we begin to transform it. That means, instead of denying your own envy, you take responsibility for it. That puts your hands on the steering wheel of its transformation. This is a case of the phenomenon I mentioned earlier. This is one of those transformation processes into a higher state of maturity which requires becoming conscious of something painful, no matter how contra-intuitive this may be.

If seeing is not enough, the next step is charting the detailed landscape of envy as a journey through the body. Which sensations does this emotion invoke? How exactly does your head feel? What’s going on in your neck? What feelings can you experience in your chest area? What specifically are you feeling in your stomach region? Which tensions, feelings of pressure, hotness or tingling can you contact in your pelvis and legs? Which of these are the most intense? Be patient. Remain focused. Stay with these intense sensations without desire to change them. What you’ll notice is that, with time, patience and focus, THEY WILL CHANGE BY THEMSELVES. Don’t help. Don’t push the river. Penta Rhei. Everything flows, especially feelings and sensations. Consciousness intensifies this. The important thing is to not intend it to change, rather to observe and allow it to change.

Next step; what exactly is it changing into? The more patient and observant you are, the more contact you will make with the ‘pool of wisdom’, your subconscious resource center. What is envy in this specific case for you REALLY? The more patient and observant you are, the clearer this will become, not as a general thing, but as a specific piece of very practical advice for yourself. Perhaps even goals become clearer. Perhaps your real needs become clearer. Perhaps your own sense of loving yourself becomes clearer.

Interesting here is also how the voice changes within this process. Imagine someone you know telling you how happy they are for your recent success. Imagine further having an inkling that they are envious and are trying to hide it. What are the vocal factors that gives you this inkling? Now imagine the last time you were a bit envious and congratulated someone. Imagine further that you had a sense of your own incongruence. How did your voice sound? What were the vocal, tonal factors that gave that away to yourself? The beautiful thing is, envy can be worked on directly through the voice. By experiencing your own resonance and listening competently to your own sentence melody, pressure and vocal colors, you can make quick work of becoming conscious of your own transformational wiring.

How the Voice and our Emotions work together is something which has so fascinated us, that we are offering a ‘pilot’ course on Emotions and The Voice. In this course we will be working not only on transforming the emotions we’ve come to consider our shadow, but also giving YOU practical, personal tools to further this work in YOUR life. Because of the subtle differences in emotional voice tone emphasis and to increase participant flexibility, we are offering this course in German and English simultaneously. Fluency, however, in just one of these two languages is required along with a curiosity about the vital commonalities and differences. That makes the course suitable for both English and German speakers. We’re very excited about this brand new concept and are looking forward to your participation and your feedback.

The course is limited to 20 and there is an “Early Bird” price (€250 til 31.Okt. After €300), so please put March 18-20, 2016 underlined in your calendar and register soon.

For more information, please contact:

contact@factoryoffice.de     or


Ray Wilkins                http://www.peopleandartfactory.blogspot.com/


Evan Bortnick                        http://www.musa-vocalis.de/


About evanb54

I'm a passionate, curious learning junkie--- an X-Opera Singer turned Voice Teacher, Voice Teachers Teacher, NLP Lehrtrainer, Off-Path Coach, Cranio-Sacral worker and a few other even less mainstream things. Everything I've learned or taught revolves around THE VOICE. The Voice as a tool of artistic expression. The Voice as a tool of emotional transparency. The voice as a tool of flexible communication. More information can be found at my Institute Site: www.musa-vocalis.de The Wiesbaden Academy of the Vocal Muse Gesangsunterricht Wiesbaden, Coaching, Voice Pedagogy
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