The Eating For Two Syndrome

by Alaina L. Lewis

“Bitterness spoils the cup.” That was a saying my Grandmother used to rattle off when I was young. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties, and had entered the world—got my heart broken, chased after goals, and experienced a myriad of successes apart from my failures, that I understood what she meant when she’d heeded the warning. Bitterness can claim your life, and unfortunately is usually the direct result of leaving feelings unresolved towards another person; feelings such as envy.

Jealousy and envy can be an unconscious struggle. So unconscious that it’s easy to allow yourself to participate in unacceptable behavior. There’s that person you just don’t like, but aren’t certain as to why. That friend whom you want to be happy for, but inside you cringe at their success. Or maybe the guy in your class who’s always bragging about his goals, and now you secretly wish him the worse in his career, when negativity wasn’t your original intention.

But why?

None of these individuals have any control over our future, but if you’re dealing with any personal doubts or fears of inadequacy, it’s easy to find yourself silently competing with them. We chart their every move, reconsider our steps when glancing at theirs, make choices based on their actions, and find ourselves locked in a tug of war, when we’re the only one participating.

I call it the “Eating for two” syndrome; it can be a debilitating issue that’ll take you off of your focus in a heartbeat. But the sad thing is, if you don’t tackle the underlying problem, it’s the surest way to find yourself “eating” alone forever.

If you’re dealing with the “envy bug,” here’s a couple of reasons why that could be, and some different ways you can get over the problem, and get your thinking on the right track.

* Just think—if you had never met your rival before, there wouldn’t be a competition in the first place.
Treat these situations like the person doesn’t even exist. Had you never stumbled upon them in the first place, there’d be no war to wage, or even a competition in place. The two of you would move through the universe successfully, as if either of you didn’t exist.

* Be grateful for your own accomplishments.
It’s easy to forget your own successes, when you have your focus plastered in someone else’s backyard. Did you forget that achievement award? Does the nomination no longer matter? Have you forgotten all the hurdles you’ve jumped over so far? So what if the next person appears to be a few steps ahead of you. Be happy that you’re even a worthy enough opponent, and continue to move forward towards your intended goal.

* Learn to see through the illusion of perfection.
On the surface, the person you envy seems like they have it all worked out. In reality, they probably struggle with the same issues as you, if not more. Remember, if it didn’t come easy for you, it’s not going to be handed to them either. See things for what they are, and not for how you perceive them to be.

* Stop caring, and start doing.
Caring too much about the wrong thing is the quickest way to lose sight of your goal. Why does their life matter to you so much? Your attention should be focused on the execution of your next move, in order to be in position to either join your rival, or surpass them down the road.

* There’s room enough for two.
One person’s success can’t predict another person’s failure. There’s room enough for us all to make it. Focus on having your own voice in your element, and not on having the only voice overall.

Got any more tips and ideas on how to crack the envy bug? We’re all ears?

  • Alexandra

    I’ve been jealous before, but I’ve never eaten for two. But I’m not self-absorbed either.
    Hope the people going through this can pull their heads up. This all sounds so tiring.

    I pray I dont go through this. Competition is major in the profession I’m pursuing :-o

  • Amanda

    Jealousy is a sickness. And OH I’ve been sick before.
    There was a girl in my art class, that was constantly getting praise for her pieces, which made me feel like my work was mediocre, or I wasn’t cut out to be an honest.
    Over time, it just got worse and worse, and then MY work started to suffer as a result of thinking about her, and her work, and how I could get her shine, every time I sat down to paint something.

    I was “eating for tow” so to speak, but I really had to remind myself of your first point, that had I never met her, it wouldn’t matter cause there’d be no one to compete. Well, the next hot shot of course.

    I’ve learned to pretty much rely on myself for confidence, and not the world. And I think that’s where I didn’t know I had made the mistake. I didin’t know other people had so much control of my self esteem.

    GREAT piece. Thank you for the memeory of the lesson.

  • Isis

    lol I’m going through this right now. I’m fighting it though. An acquaintance of mine recently got engaged. I was happy when she told me cuz she got her dream ring from Tiffany’s and her man is like the total package. lol I was happy until she told me that she had been cheating on him the entire duration of their relationship (3 years) and had recently ended the dealings with her ex’s only because she was now engaged. lmaooo Man that really set me off. When she told me I realized how unfair life really is. Here I am struggling to get a decent guy to be interested in me and knowing that if I found one I would cherish him. And this girl as a guy that many women are looking for and he agrees to marry her and she’s been cheating on him. I can’t talk to her. I’m too angry. I’m trying to resolve my issues and my feelings by understanding that life is unfair and sometimes great things happen to not so great people and there isn’t anything I can do to change it. Its hard though. lol

  • Isis

    *has a guy

  • Lex From London (England)

    To Isis,

    Sister don’t sweat it, remember what goes around comes around! This person maybe happy and content with the tiffany engagement ring, but that’s just the ring. Marriage is about true, honest- hard work together as a unit.

    She may have cheated and feel that she has gotten away with it but the feelings of betraying her mate will surface and display itself very clearly within her relationship. Thus, causing negative vibrations in her marriage.

    Good things come to those who WAIT and not cheat their way to get there. Your time is approaching and what you want will come. Stand back and watch this woman’s situation and you’ll see how her marriage plays out (life may just hand her back the unfair card.

    Stay blessed X

  • Isis

    Thanks :)

  • Erin

    “It’s easy to forget your own successes, when you have your focus plastered in someone else’s backyard.”

    I’ve been battling with this one ever since I entered post-grad life and haven’t been able to find a full-time position within my field of choice thus far, meanwhile, some of my peers have been finding different positions slowly but surely. It has left me feeling inadequate, as if my accomplishments and successes meant nothing. I realize I need to focus on myself and my own personal aspirations because what I want for my life is different than what somebody else may want.

    Thank You for this article!

  • LR

    This envy and jealousy thing has affected me one too many times in my life, so I definitely understand where the author is going with this piece. Jealousy is terrible to live with especially when we live in a world that thrives off of stratification. One thing that is true though is that the “grass is not always greener on the other side”. It’s hard to remember that when you come across people who appear like everything is perfect all of the time. The thing I’ve learned to combat though is accepting the fact that we are all different and we are all going to be in different seasons during our lifetimes. We come into this world at different times, and we also leave this world at different times. If someone wants to plan or construct their lives based on a small aspect of someone else’s life, they will never reach their fullest potential. In the Lord’s prayer, when we ask God to give us our daily bread, that alone speaks to us about our individual paths and purposes for our lives. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I say that prayer, I ask for my daily bread, not John’s or Cindy’s. Jealousy is a destructive force meant to break someone down. As previously mentioned, the spirit of envy distracts us and kicks us off track. I suggest that anyone dealing with this or who has dealt with this in the past continues to ask God for guidance. We have the power to make our lives meaningful instead of a carbon copy of someone else’s. Whether someone is living the best life or going through a rough period, we are here to help each other out–not be happy when we discover the grass is certainly not greener on the other side or pout because the braggart next door received a new Benz. We are all unique and equipped with our own stream of blessings because there is room for more than 2, 3, 4, and counting. Instead of letting jealousy consume us, let’s start allowing people’s successes and failures motivate us to be better people than we were the day before. Besides, it’s much better to be a first-rate version of yourself than a second-rate version of someone else. Be blessed, Ladies!

    To Ms. Lewis: Thank you for this necessary piece. There is too much competition in this world with not enough productivity. Be blessed!

  • bosslady

    Great piece #thatisall ;-)


    @ LR

    Best quote I have heard in a long time, “It’s much better to be a first-rate version of yourself than a second-rate version of someone else”.


  • Orange Star Happy Hunting

    Consciously make a decision to not harbor envy and jealously, by using some of the steps in the article and by the commentors, and focus more on being the best you and realize there is only one you, with your unique life path, talents, wonderfulness etc so there really is no competition!!!!

  • Robby

    “I don’t know about anyone else, but when I say that prayer, I ask for my daily bread, not John’s or Cindy’s”


    I just want to take the time to thank you LR…

    That is all.

    Great piece Miss. Lewis =)

  • Ngozi

    I agree

  • Ngozi

    I pray that you meet the man of your dreams very soon

  • Isis

    thank you :)

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