Dealing with Success Envy: How to Shut Up the Inner Ego

Suffering from Success Envy?

Do you watch others who are more successful than you and secretly envy them?
Do you find yourself daydreaming about another person’s life and wish you were them?
Do you see things and feel captivated by their aura, wondering why you were dealt such a bad hand of cards in life?

In other words, do you suffer the insufferable inner ego or have you shut it up already so you can get on with the business of your own life?

Yoga forward fold

My whole body is aching these days, from head to toe. I wake up sore and go to bed only to repeat it all over again the next day. To make matters more interesting, my left shoulder and my right butt cheek went on a total strike last week and have deserted the rest of my body in this effort to rebuild itself into a stronger version, sigh, and it’s all quite expected, because I am putting this baby through an ordeal on purpose. I am waking up the space between my muscle groups, large and small, and not stopping until everyone is alert and conscious of the blissful joy of being alive.

What on earth is this madness?
Ah, let me tell you about my new love, Ashtanga yoga.

On October 1st, I decided to pursue a long dream of a regular Ashtanga practice, regular being 5 to 6 days a week, 90 minutes to 2 hours at a time, and Ashtanga being the most beautiful and graceful, and yet the most demanding and arduous style of all yoga. It is a complete system of ancient yoga that the late and beloved Pattahbi Jois put into a clear and precise system and ever since my first Ashtanga class nearly 10 years ago, I’ve had a strong pull to follow this and only this mode of yoga.

Except circumstances would simply not line up to where I could find my way into an Ashtanga practice. Never mind that there are 57 yoga studios within a small radius of where I live, with nearly none teaching a traditional Ashtanga style of yoga. Until October 1st, when I decided that I will re-arrange my priorities, re-shape my life and my expectations and come hell or high water, I will find and pursue this style of yoga and if it’s a whim or a passing fancy, I will at least get it out of my system and be done with it.

Enter: the hidden Ashtanga underground of my hometown. Who knew that these hidden studios existed offering exactly what my heart was yearning? Set that intention and you shall receive!

Now, 7 weeks of devotion later, I have made more progress in my yoga journey than a few years of hardcore bi-weekly practice. The progress is really remarkable to me, miniscule as it may be in the grand scheme of the yoga path before me. I want to stay ecstatic about it, because consistent progress forward on your path – any path of self-discovery and personal growth from professional to physical to spiritual – calls for a celebration.

In a world where so much can go wrong, if you can claim that you are making progress forward every day on your journey, be it mile by mile or inch by inch – it really doesn’t matter! – if you know the path and you are moving forward at your pace, then you are set for success beyond measures.

Except when the ego gets in the way.

How the Inner Ego Works

With all this amazement in sight, I am shameful to say that I still have to work on shutting up the inner ego. The unwelcome guest has returned, even after I kicked it out and this time, it is madly obsessed with success envy of advanced yoga practitioners. The ego reminds me, in rude and derogatory language, that if I had kept up my practice in the last decade in the same intensity as I have in the last 7 weeks, I would be leaps and bounds ahead. My yoga dreams would be the stuff of every day practice, and well, what a shame that is!

The ego is that little voice inside you that puts you down and makes you doubt and calls you names! It is not the inner voice or the intuition that you need to heed. It is not a knowing wise breed. It is a proud and harmful voice that breaks down your spirit slowly and makes you think it’s all your own doing.

But it isn’t. There is you and there is your ego. They are two separate things and you can shut up the inner ego.

It showed up for me when I had first started my business, the success envy was the envy of those well-deserving entrepreneurs that were well ahead of me in their journey. It was not a good feeling, and it did not serve me at all but heavens knows I wasn’t that smart until months later when I was sick of these patterns of self-sabotage.

So then it took a conscious decision to shut it up and to move forward with my itty biz. Results: I’ve now surpassed the success that I could only dream about when I had first started, and baby, I am just getting warmed up.

And now it is here to interfere with my Ashtanga and I won’t have any of it. It is showing up in the voice of regret – oh if you had only kept up your Ashtanga practice 10 years ago, your body would be doing handstands in its sleep and you would be so beautiful and graceful, floating and probably defying all gravity by now. And when I hear this voice in the middle of a practice, especially in a room filled with beautiful veteran Ashtangis, it weakens my resolve to get into that posture. It makes my progress seem stupid. It makes me feel like a beginner that is never going to break free.

It makes it all pointless and worthless.

The inner ego, that beast, whispers terrible things that can make a quitter out of the best of us for no good reason at all. It works from the inside out, and you are most vulnerable on the inside, where the ego can rule the day if you are not careful.

So be very, very careful!

If you are working towards a dream, a goal, a sweet aspiration that you’ve had for a while and are finally pursuing today, then beware of the terrible ways the inner ego can crush your spirit and your spirit, my dear, you need badly when you go against the tide of life and set your own rules of success and happiness.

I’ve decided that Ashtanga came into my life at the precise right time and place, and not a minute sooner than I was ready for it. At the wrong time, I would have treated Ashtanga just like another yoga practice, but between you and me, this is not just a yoga practice. It is a way of existence. It is an awakening of your soul and a falling in love with your body and with the world around you that is nothing short of magical. It is also the most demanding physical practice you could find, and when you push the physical limits of your body, your mind begins to calm down and see more clearly.

Shut Up the Inner Ego with 9 Affirmations

So let us shut up the inner ego and deal with success envy together. I am sharing with you my 9 not-so-simple-but-necessary affirmations, the mantras that I am using as rebuttal to the ego until it gets the message, and you are welcome to steal them away for your own use:

1. The past is none of my concern. I am done looking back and sighing “what if“.
2. The decision that led me here was one of faith and courage. I no longer doubt it.
3. My timing is not up to question. I am neither late nor early. I am here exactly on time.
4. The success of this or that person would look simply awkward and strange on me. I’m creating my own.
5. I am in love with my failures. Without them, I would not be who I am and I like me, thank you very much.
6. The jewel is hidden in the journey, not at the end, and I would not want to miss it by rushing along.
7. My progress is a thing of beauty even in its baby steps, and I am loving the slow turning of tide within me.
8. The success of others shows me what wonderful things are possible. They inspire me, not defeat me.

And last but most important of all:
9. Great magical things are in store for me, and I won’t betray them by following someone else’s path or envying someone else’s success.

It is a progress. It doesn’t happen overnight but the more you do this, the quieter the voice gets, and the more you will hear the real inner voice, the one that says, go on, you are doing remarkably well and when you feel like giving up, it whispers, oh just one more try. One More Try.

Listen to that voice, and learn to recognize the squeaky, proud, annoying voice of your inner ego, remember that you are in charge – not it – and deal with it before it wrecks havoc into your beautiful plans and your amazing path of progress and success.

  • Carmelo

    What an awesome journey you’re on, Farnoosh! Every time that inner ego steps up and tries to mess with you is another opportunity for more awareness. And you have developed so much self-awareness my lovely friend!

    Those aches and pains, those voices, those envies, those doubts; it’s amazing how they resurface at “just the right time” to provide us with additional chances to know ourselves even better, isn’t it? Your affirmations are great.

    Also, I like to think of that inner critic/ego as a welcomed part of the journey towards consciousness. Not that I want to keep him around but that he’s really the same thing as welcoming failure. It means I’m moving, changing, growing and if he didn’t show up from time to time I’d have to say, “whoa, I better get busy and do something a bit uncomfortable!”

    • Farnoosh

      Carmelo, it’s awesome alright, and so is yours!
      Oooh I never thought of giving the inner critic so much credit but you are right. It is a test upon test and can only be good for me, so long as I don’t abide to its lowly rules! Here’s to massively uncomfortable things.
      PS: Will be emailing you very soon regarding your book.

  • Dan Garner

    Another great article Farnoosh. I am a regular reader and a huge fan, but this is one that really connects.


    Dan @ ZenPresence

    • Farnoosh

      So kind, Dan. I am glad it meets the zen presence theme that you advocate. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Bill | Leadership Heart Coaching

    Hi Farnoosh,
    I truly relate to each one of your affirmations. Having a difficult childhood and making some bad choices when I was younger, I sometimes find myself dealing with the “I should’ve done this or that” voice. It can be a powerful voice, if we let it be. When this voice strikes me (thankfully, not too often anymore) I know I need to look at things from a different perspective – had those choices not been made, I would not be who I am today –

    Simple to do, but not always easy to do.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Bill, welcome back. Oh I hear you so well. Does it get easier dealing with that voice? I know it’s really hard to accept that every choice accumulated to the whole person that we are today. Not easy at all, but possible. Thanks for sharing, Bill.

  • Marlee

    I. Love. This.

    • Farnoosh

      :) We WILL beat the inner ego, Marlee!

  • Priya

    It was such a timely post for me Farnoosh!! I had strayed off of my yoga practice in the past few months. Mostly because I was discouraged by my slow progress and couldn’t silence the inner voice that kept wondering how far I would have come if I had been a little more disciplined in my practice that started 16 years ago. So yes, it is exactly what you have written about in this post!! And just this morning I had decided to step up my practice and get to the mat every day and to realize that whatever keeps me from it is an excuse :-)

    Congratulations on your progress Farnoosh and may your practice continue to bloom.

    • Farnoosh

      Priya, first of all, I love your last post and your blog is coming along BEAUTIFULLY!! I am writing this to you just before running off to a yoga class and I hear you so well on the regrets of not keeping up the practice but you know what? At the time, we must have wanted to different things in our lives and if we had kept up the yoga, maybe other things would have had to go. Perhaps it all happens for a reason but I am so happy you will be embracing yoga again. And yes to not having enough hours in a day but don’t give up on pursuing your passions nonetheless!

      • Priya

        Thanks for visiting my blog Farnoosh. I feel like I am walking a few inches off the ground since reading your kind words about my post :-)

  • Mara Healy

    Your insights and 9 affirmations are right on! I can’t wait to share this with my students ! You are a beautiful writer, and no doubt, a centered Yogini!

    • Farnoosh

      Mara, I got lost in your beautiful gorgeous website, gallery and yoga world. Oh so beautiful! Thanks so much for stopping over and for giving me a lasting encouragement in your sweet words. Cheers and my very big thanks! Namaste.

  • Joanna Warwick

    This resonated with me … Occasionally my inner negative envious, blah blah voice wants to come out for wrestling match – mostly I win now quicker than I did and with less fight. My favourite statement and one I always need reminding off is that I’m not late for the party and that I don’t to be following others footsteps – I am perfectly on time for me … I choose freedom ~ in movement, expression and love..keep up the good work 😉

    • Farnoosh

      Hi dear Joanna, it sounds like you are the winner in that wrestling match. Did you ever watch The Lord of the Rings where Frodo tells Gandalf that he is late? And he says he can’t be late, because a wizard arrives precisely at the time he intends to arrive? Well, let’s think like Gandalf. Can’t go too wrong! Thanks for your lovely comment and come back anytime.

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