2. Places We Go When We Compare

Comparison, Admiration, Reverence, Envy, Jealousy, Resentment, Schadenfreude, Freudenfreude


Comparison is actually not an emotion, but it drives all sorts of big feelings that can affect our relationships and our self-worth.

Comparison is the crush of conformity from one side and competition from the other—it’s trying to simultaneously fit in and stand out.

Comparison says:

Be like everyone else, but better. Fit in, but win

When we compare ourselves with others, we are ranking around a specific collection of “alike things.”

Admiration and Reverence

We feel admiration when someone’s abilities, accomplishments, or character inspires us, or when we see something else that inspires us, like art or nature.

Reverence, which is sometimes called adoration, worship, or veneration, is a deeper form of admiration or respect and is often combined with a sense of meaningful connection with something greater than ourselves.

Admiration fosters self-betterment.

Reverence fosters a desire for connection to what we revere—we want to move closer to that thing or person.

Envy and Jealousy

Envy occurs when we want something that another person has. Envy typically involves two people and occurs when one lacks something enjoyed by another.

Jealousy is when we fear losing a relationship or a valued part of a relationship that we already have. Jealousy typically involves three people and occurs when one fears losing someone to another person.

Envy and jealousy result from different situations, generate distinct appraisals, and produce distinctive emotional experiences

Jealousy doesn’t seem to be a singular emotion but rather a cognitive evaluation in response to feeling anger, sadness, and/or fear. In other words, we think jealousy in response to how we feel*.*


Resentment is the feeling of frustration, judgment, anger, “better than,” and/or hidden envy related to perceived unfairness or injustice.

Resentment is part of the envy family.

When we fail to set boundaries or ask for what we need, or when expectations let us down because they were based on things we can’t control, like what other people think, what they feel, or how they’re going to react.

I’m not mad because you’re resting. I’m mad because I’m so bone tired and I want to rest. But, unlike you, I’m going to pretend that I don’t need to.

Your lack of work is not making me resentful, my lack of rest is making me resentful.

Instead of thinking, What is that person doing wrong? or What should they be doing? , try What do I need but am afraid to ask for?

Recognize resentment it by a familiar thought pattern: What mean and critical thing am I rehearsing saying to this person?


Schadenfreude is pleasure or joy derived from someone else’s suffering or misfortune.

Involves counter-empathy— our emotional reaction is incongruent with another person’s emotional experience.

When we feel relieved, grateful, or even happy that someone who has done something hurtful, unethical, or unjust is held accountable, that’s not schadenfreude and normally doesn’t stem from counter-empathy. On the contrary, it can stem from empathy for the aggrieved.

When we hold someone accountable and they respond to that accountability by feeling shame, it does not mean we’ve shamed them.


Freudenfreude is the opposite of schadenfreude—it’s the enjoyment of another’s success. It’s also a subset of empathy.

Shoy: intentionally sharing the joy of someone relating a success story by showing interest and asking follow-up questions.

Bragitude: intentionally tying words of gratitude toward the listener following discussion of personal successes.

Thank you for celebrating this with me. It means so much that you’re happy for me.