We all have people in our lives who want to see us fail. It’s true. I have them and I’m sure you have them as well. Say you achieve something you’ve been working toward for years and when you finally reach your goal, you have certain people who snub you, ignore your achievement, or even say things like, “Well it’s about time you did something with your life.”
There’s a quote going around that is credited to Leonardo DiCaprio that says, “Pay close attention to those who don’t clap when you win” and I used to agree with this statement. I felt threatened by people like that and I gave them attention in hopes that perhaps one day, I’d get a clap, or at least a half-hearted congratulations from them.
When that never came, I had to adjust my thinking.
I decided that people like that didn’t deserve my attention. The ones who do are the ones I can turn to when I need a trustworthy ear to confide in, who are genuinely happy when I win and who know that I’m cheering them on as well – those are my people. They are the people I keep in my tight, inner circle.
The ones who don’t clap when I win…the ones who are talking behind my back, criticizing me, and only dolling out likes on social media while otherwise not speaking to me aren’t my people.
And that’s okay.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer my tight circle of really good friends and supportive family who love me. The others, I prefer to love from a distance.
I do still believe this to an extent, but God has opened my eyes a little further.
God says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” and many take this to mean that maybe we have to love them above and beyond ourselves, but that’s not what God says. He says we should love them as ourselves. I tend to see the goodness in others and all the darkness in myself. I used to put people on a pedestal and when I realized they weren’t what I thought, I’d feel somewhat lost and let down and it was entirely my own fault.
This verse opened my eyes to the fact that we are all fucked up in some way and that’s okay. I know I am, but I still love myself enough to eat well, to take care of my body, and to give myself a second (or millionth) chance to do the next right thing. It’s not because I think I’m awesome. It’s not because I feel a deep admiration for myself. It’s simply that I make the conscious choice to show myself a little grace. What other option do I have, when I am who I am and have no other option but to be me?
I think this is what God means when he tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
So when I see things like the quote from Leo, I have to pause, because I really don’t know what sort of attention to show to people like that. To me, people who are like that have inner issues to deal with if they are incapable of feeling happiness for someone else. I know I have been there. My lack of excitement for a friend or loved one in the past had nothing to do with them and everything to do with my inner turmoil.
Jealousy can rear its ugly head at the strangest times and we’ve all been there at one time or another. Jealousy is an insidious thing. It’s one aspect of the evil in this world and it grows like a cancer, and like a cancer that grows and destroys healthy cells, jealousy can destroy our ability to feel excitement for others.
Acknowledging it, instead of ignoring it, can be a powerful catalyst for inner transformation.
When I first began evaluating some of my relationship struggles, I realized that insecurities were at the heart of it all. From our insecurities grow fear, jealousy, envy, disgust, hatred, greed, resentment, and more. It seems that deep inside, we think we’re not enough. We think we’re somehow less than the other people we know. Deep inside, we think we don’t deserve to be successful, or even happy.
But we do.
The trouble is, we too often allow our insecurities – the lies that tell us we’re not enough – to keep us imprisoned in what is commonly known as our comfort zone. We settle in and each day basically becomes a rerun of the previous days. We wonder what this life is for. We go through life, not living, but acting like biological robots on auto-pilot, and we do what we can to back away from life through shopping sprees that put us in debt, alcohol, drugs, promiscuous sex, excessive exercise, over eating, etc, that leave us feeing even emptier.
Then, when a friend shares on Facebook that she opened a new business and it’s doing well, it’s hard to feel excited. When a brother shares that he’s heading off on a jet to yet another country, it’s hard not to feel less than. When a friend shares happy pictures of her and her husband, it’s hard not to feel a twinge or surge of jealousy, along with thoughts of, “I’m sure they’re not as happy as they pretend they are on Facebook.”
Because when we’re not happy with ourselves, we cannot be happy for others. We can only love others as we love ourselves.
So, how on earth do we change this?
For me, it comes down to taking every thought captive. If I’m not careful, I can find myself unknowingly in the middle of a mental loop of negativity. I have to be conscious of my thoughts throughout the day. I have to stop them when they are negative, but I don’t just dismiss them and then replace them with positive thoughts as I’ve tried in the past. Now, I stop and ask, “Is any of this true or is this just my Monkey Mind getting the best of me?” Very often, it’s my Monkey Mind.
From here, I reconnect with my breath. I take time to get present by taking mental notes of what’s around me. I give thanks for the fact that I’ve become aware – alive – again and I give thanks to God for a few of the wonderful gifts I’ve been given. Usually this will set me straight for a while.
That said, it’s an ongoing battle. I’m human. As a human being, I’m not perfect and have no chance of ever being so and because of that, I’ll continue to fail. I’ll continue to occasionally feel a twinge of jealousy, or envy when I see a friend who is achieving their dreams. But I can stop myself now and realize, “Hey, if she can do it, so can I! There’s plenty of goodness to go around and God has my back, too.” Then, I can feel a genuine happiness for my friend or loved one for their accomplishments.
So maybe, if we’re to give close attention to those who don’t clap for us, instead of pointing fingers at them, we pray for them. We send them love and healing thoughts and pray that they will see their worth, too, because it’s obvious that they don’t. They don’t see the unique qualities they possess that the world so desperately needs.
And that’s heartbreaking, isn’t it?
So, yes, pay close attention to those who don’t clap when you win and lift them up in prayer, because they need your love more than you need their acceptance.