Fear, Envy, and Contempt

These are three powerful feelings.

They show up in many areas of our lives. Here are a few examples.

Finding a job

Fear of being an imposter.

Envy at the ones already getting hired.

Contempt for having to grind through a job selection process.

Aiming for a promotion

Fear of it not being what you hope.

Envy at the Peter Principle in practice.

Contempt for those who don’t play fair, and get more than they deserve.

Starting a company

Fear of it failing.

Envy at those who are doing it successfully already, with it all seemingly figured out.

Contempt for the reasons why you feel you’re starting at a disadvantage, on a harder path.

Going freelance

Fear of no one hiring you.

Envy at those doing the work you really want to do.

Contempt for having to go out and sell yourself.

A change in circumstances

Fear of not being settling in, of being accepted.

Envy at those who got a helping hand.

Contempt for all those parts of the new systems that don’t work as they should.


Just one of these feelings can have huge effects on us. Fear alone can cripple our creativity, progress, and potential.

The mix of elements together, though, is alchemy.

And the resulting chemical reactions can be overwhelmingly strong and long-lasting.

The good news is once we know the elements, we can take steps to acknowledge, manage, reframe, and even harness them.


* The place my Enneagram type (5) goes when particularly unhealthy is a mix of envy and contempt. Once I learned this, a lot of other things made more sense. There are some things that once you see, you can’t unseen.

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