13 Keys to Identifying Envious People
Do you know how to identify envious people? Envy is a complex emotion that affects not only the life of the person who feels it, but also that of those who are subjected to it. Carrying it on your back is exhausting because it implies observing, comparing, watching, and, above all, suffering the weight of unhappiness in silence.
Those who experience it may act destructively to dim the light in others and protect their egos. In this article, we’ll explore some of the characteristics of envious people and some keys to protect yourself from them.
How do envious people act?
According to an article published in Human Brain Mapping, envy sometimes entails a negative response that arises from a person’s feeling of inferiority in the face of another’s good fortune.
It’s a singular emotion among all the rest. While most people can easily express other emotions, few dare to confess their envy. In fact, as research from the journal University Psychology suggests, no one likes to recognize themselves as such.
It’s often associated with childishness and meanness and is generally perceived as shameful. Consequently, individuals tend to hide it rather than express it. The shell with which they cover it is also useful to hide the insecurity and lack of self-esteem that characterizes them. Let’s see some keys to identify envious people.
1. They destroy the happy moments of others
Something wonderful just happened to you, and as soon as you tell them about it, they downplay it. The act of detracting from the triumphs is a strategy to turn off the brilliance that you have and to be able to place yourself at their height. People who are like this don’t want competitors as they can’t stand being surpassed or outdone.
2. They criticize in public
Another key to identifying envious people is that they criticize you in front of others. They usually make destructive observations about your personality or criticize things that you’ve done and achieved. That’s their weapon: Catching you off guard and humiliating you in public.
3. They celebrate with hypocrisy
Some envious people have a hard time hiding what they feel. Let’s give an example: Imagine that you’ve been successful in a project and you tell a person who’s envious. He’s likely to be happy with you. However, if you look at their expressions, you’ll see that they’re forced: Their smile is unnatural and fake.
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4. They avoid giving you support
When people are jealous of you, they avoid helping you achieve the goals you set for yourself. What’s more, they try to sabotage them on the sly. They may be friendly and interested in supporting you but in very subtle ways, they hinder the process.
5. They compete and take credit
Another sign to identify envious people is that they always compete and steal the credit for team victories. Expressions like “without me, you wouldn’t have been able to do it” appear frequently when they observe that you take the applause.
6. They interfere with personal development
In line with the previous point, instead of helping you grow, they may feel threatened and try to sabotage you. This can manifest itself in different ways: Discrediting your work, spreading rumors or gossip, boycotting the projects and opportunities that come your way, etc.
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7. They disappear from your life
Jealous people aren’t around to see the achievements. They prefer to keep their distance because they can’t stand to see you succeed. Therefore, it’s normal for them to disappear from your life for seasons. This is because the happiness you have reminds them of your dissatisfaction.
8. They whisper behind your back
Another key to identifying envious people is that they speak ill of you when you’re not around. They defame you and spread things that aren’t true or, if they are, they manipulate them so that you look bad in front of others.
9. They compare their achievements with yours
Constant comparison allows them to measure your worth based on what you have or do. Instead of focusing on their own existence, they focus on yours, looking for the advantages you have over them to covet and strive for as well.
10. They have negative wishes for your life
The person who covets what you have is likely to resent you and want you to fail in different aspects of your life, be it projects or relationships. The intensity of his envy will determine which areas are most likely to be targeted by their desire to see you fail.
11. They exaggerate and publicize their achievements
Some jealous people may exaggerate or flaunt their triumphs to try to compete with you and feel superior. This is their way of compensating for the insecurity, dissatisfaction, and low self-esteem they hide.
12. They celebrate failures
Another sign to identify envious people is that they experience satisfaction when you make a mistake. Seeing yourself fail is the perfect opportunity to feel superior and invalidate all previous achievements.
13. They carry frustration
This feeling doesn’t arise only from the desire to have an advantage over others. Envious people suffer due to their inferiority complex and frustration, as well as low self-esteem. They crave what others have and hate those around them for having what they want.
Sometimes they even enter into false friendships with those they envy in order to feel at least “splashed” with the success they perceive in them.
“Envy is a thousand times more terrible than hunger because it is spiritual hunger.”
-Miguel de Unamuno-
What to do if you have envious people in your social circle?
If you surround yourself with people like this, you may be in a very uncomfortable and difficult situation. Here are some suggestions that can help you.
- Define and enforce limits: If the person minimizes the achievements you achieve all the time and makes you feel bad, you need to set a limit. This can be not getting close to that person, asking them not to invalidate your successes, asking them to talk to you only when necessary, etc. When the person is too toxic, it’s best to keep your distance.
- Avoid sharing your triumphs: Try not to talk about the good things that happen to you with these kinds of people because they won’t appreciate it or share your joy. What they will do is invalidate you and detract from what you did.
- Strengthen true friendships: Surround yourself with people who truly support you and encourage you to grow in your personal and professional life. Healthy friendships in adulthood will make you feel better.
- Practice empathy: If the person acknowledges their feelings and is willing to change, being empathetic can improve the situation. On the contrary, if they’re not willing to change and are dedicated to harming you, you’re not obligated to be. In these cases, it’s important to protect emotional and physical integrity and, if necessary, keep a certain distance to avoid harm and not fall into their hate game.
- Seek help: If the other person’s behaviors affect you too much, you need to seek help. You can talk to a friend, family member, or mental health professional for guidance.
Remember that emotional well-being and physical and mental health are of the utmost importance. In the end, what matters is that you take care of yourself in favor of a full and happy life, surrounded by people who love you.
Surround yourself with people who value you
Envy is a complex and destructive emotion that can affect interpersonal relationships and emotional well-being. It usually stems from comparison and feelings of inferiority.
Envious people have a series of behaviors that can be harmful to those around them: They compete and hoard the merits, defame, gossip, sabotage or boycott processes, criticize and enjoy the failures of others, etc.
It’s important to be aware of these signs and establish healthy limits to protect your own integrity. Also, it’s essential to surround yourself with people who are supportive and sincerely share your joys and sorrows.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Dvash, J., Gilam, G., Ben‐Ze’ev, A., Hendler, T., & Shamay‐Tsoory, S. G. (2010). The envious brain: the neural basis of social comparison. Human brain mapping, 31(11), 1741-1750. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6871018/
- Pezirkianidis, C., Galanaki, E., Raftopoulou, G., Moraitou, D., & Stalikas, A. (2023). Adult friendship and wellbeing: A systematic review with practical implications. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, 1-15 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9902704/
- Ramachandran, V. S., & Jalal, B. (2017). The evolutionary psychology of envy and jealousy. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5609545/
- Mola, DJ, Godoy, JC, Reyna, C. (2017). Contenido experiencial y aspectos valorativos asociados a la envidia benigna y maligna en estudiantes universitarios de Córdoba, Argentina. Psicología Univ., 2(16). https://doi.org/10.11144/javeriana.upsy16-2.ceav