Have you ever secretly derived some guilty pleasure by wishing an unpleasant outcome or event on someone simply because they seem better off than you? I know I have…
A client recently voiced her irritation about a distant cousin of hers who had never fully supported himself financially even though he’s in his thirties. His parents, for reasons of their own, have always enabled his lack of ambition and responsibility by providing him with whatever money he needs.
Needless to say, his journey from my clients perspective, has been an easy and embellished one. Whereas she, like most people, has had to work hard and support herself since becoming an adult.
My client was pretty adamant at the unfairness of his reality, and even hinted at how satisfying it would be to see him suffer the consequences of the ending of his free-loading existence.
Do I judge my client for wishing him ill? Not at all.
Do I relate to her reaction at all? Yup, definitely.
The truth is that sometimes life feels really hard.
It takes big balls and lots of courage to accept our sometimes super-uncomfortable lot in life and seek out the higher perspective.
Yet, in those moments when we’re caught up in a pity-party of our own design, or embracing that ever enticing victim-energy, it’s really easy to find some kind of (temporary) solace in observing someone else’s misery.
That’s part of being human.
And I believe those moments hold much value for us too.
They key here is whether these thoughts are all-encompassing and lingering, or whether they’re a passing fantasy.
For most of us, it’s the latter. Which means we get to observe and explore the associated trigger within ourselves.
And there’s the real value.
Any trigger we notice has an underlying fear attached. We know this.
In my clients case, she has deep unresolved fears and beliefs around feeling unsupported and unseen by her extended family. Seeing her cousins parent’s seemingly unconditional love and unwavering support of his lifestyle triggered that.
The clanger here is that even if he was suddenly cut-off financially, his discomfort would offer only a short-term “inner glee” to my client, whereas her unresolved fears and beliefs would still be there, waiting quietly until some similar event shows up and reactivates that same trigger.
Maybe it’s simply about accepting and allowing our human expressions and emotions to show up – without judgement. It’s why we’re here, isn’t it?
Maybe, if we’re patient and observe ourselves, without trying to control our discomfort, the truth relating to our underlying fears will present itself at a time when we’re able to be objective and step beyond our egos.
And that’s when, if we so choose, we can unpack whatever fear or unhelpful belief we’ve uncovered.
Unpleasant thoughts about others doesn’t mean we’re fundamentally flawed.
It’s simply our reaction to our own fears (which we probably won’t understand in the moment).
And that’s okay.
Our journey as humans is about learning about ourselves through experiencing life in all it’s exciting and frightening forms.
Instead of resisting it, maybe it’s time we started leaning into it.