You see her almost every day — at the park, picking up her kids from school or right next door.
You know the type — the mom who appears to have it all together. The mom jogging with her 3-day-old baby while rocking her pre-maternity skinny jeans; the mom who finds time to volunteer in her kids’ classroom 40 hours a week; or the mom whose lawn, garden, and home are always immaculate (even when you try to sneak a surprise pop-in at the most hectic time of day).
In a poll of 1,000 moms, 92 percent admitted to turning green with “mom envy.” Here’s the problem with that: It can keep us from creating meaningful and lifelong friendships. You see her good side, and then you compare it to your worst. But here’s the good news: Envy can be a positive thing — if we let it. It can be a wake-up call, a secret weapon, and even motivational. Here’s how to defeat mom-envy.
1. Pinpoint the source.
What is creating your envy? Maybe it seems like everyone else is accomplishing goal after goal. You should feel happy for them, but you aren’t. Are those same things your goals, too? Take some time to identify who you’re jealous of and why. You might realize that you’re only jealous because you want to accomplish the same things. You may have more in common than you think. And if they can achieve it, so can you.
2. Don’t compare your weakness to someone else’s strength.
We all have plenty of both. But we don’t go around telling the world how horrible we are at folding laundry, or how we let our temper get out of hand. It happens to the best of us. So just because that mom seems perfect, just remember that she’s trying her best, and so should you.
3. List your enviable qualities.
This can be hard, especially if you’re the type of person who is constantly thinking of others. If so, there’s #1 for your list. Ask your spouse or your closest confidant if you need some help. What do others love most about you? What do you love about yourself?
4. Share your strengths.
After you’ve made your own list, work on sharing one or two of them with others. Sure, your sink is piled with dishes from last night’s dinner, but that birthday party you spent months planning for your child will create memories they’ll never forget. We all have at least one strength or talent that others wish they had. If you’ve known a friend or neighbor who mentioned in passing that they wanted to cook as well as you, teach them! Invite a few fellow moms over for a casual cooking class. You get to reap the rewards of a tasty treat as well as newfound friendships. As you lift others up, you will find yourself happier in return.
Now turn the tables. If you’ve been coveting that mom’s perfectly behaved children, ask her how she does it. Maybe she wrote the book “Perfectly Behaved Children For Dummies,” and she’s just waiting to share a copy with you over lunch.
5. Work for it.
If you often find yourself filled with pangs of envy, use those feelings as fuel to push yourself harder. You aren’t going to get anywhere by sitting back and watching your life be lived by others. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.
Unfortunately, envy is a natural part of life. We can either let it swallow us up in self-doubt and negativity, or use it to shape us into the person we want to become.
This story originally appeared on Becky Squire