One of the most basic friendship duties is rooting for your bestie. At the minimum, you should probably be jumping for joy when they tell you they’re engaged, for example, or landed the dream job they’ve been working towards since college. Easy enough, right?
Celebrating milestones can become a little more complicated, though, when your pal is clearly thriving while you’re, well, not. Even if you truly want to see them succeed, the ultra-modern three-bedroom house they just bought might feel like a slap in the face if you’re living paycheck to paycheck in a shoebox apartment. Or maybe you’re having a bit of a Sex and the City moment—a la when Charlotte, who’s struggling with infertility, can’t help but feel salty after Miranda announces she’s pregnant.
Despite how completely natural it is, experiencing envy in friendships isn’t a common topic of discussion—partly because it’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but also because most of us don’t want to come off as (or feel like) the “bad friend.” However, these pangs of insecurity can actually be an invitation to personal growth, Adia Gooden, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of the Unconditionally Worthy podcast, tells SELF. “It might be a wake-up call regarding certain expectations we set for ourselves that we haven’t met yet, or perhaps we subconsciously feel like someone else’s achievement is a threat to our own,” Dr. Gooden says.
Wholeheartedly supporting your pals while prioritizing your own well-being can be tricky terrain to navigate. If you’re struggling with a little bit of friendship envy, this expert advice can help you genuinely celebrate their well-deserved wins and show up for yourself, too.
Acknowledge—and validate—your bitter or envious feelings.
You might assume that not being a 24/7 cheerleader means you’re inauthentic or unsupportive, but letting go of that internal judgment and guilt is the first step towards growth, Vernessa Roberts, Psy.D, LMFT, a therapist based in Sacramento, California, and host of the All Things Authentic podcast, tells SELF.
“Jealousy sounds like a negative emotion, and while it can be toxic in certain situations, it’s overall a completely normal experience,” Dr. Roberts says. And if you shame yourself for it, you might miss out on an opportunity for some valuable self-reflection.