I'm jealous of my neighbours and it's making me feel bad
June 11, 2017 7:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm jealous/envious of my neighbours and it's making me feel bad. What to do?

I live next door to a couple around my age who are very friendly but also make me feel worse about my life.
The male in the couple is totally the kind of guy I find attractive - his looks, his voice, his personality, same hobbies and music taste
They are both very good looking and always dressed cool
They have been together for ages and still have regular loud sex that sounds like the woman is having a very good time. It's depressing to listen to.
They earn a lot more money than I do
Their apartment looks way cooler than mine even though we're both working with the same layout
They do activities together like freaking build wooden furniture by hand for their balcony, which also looks super cool whereas mine has been trashed by an ex and I haven't gotten around to making it look nice
He practices his instrument more than I do and is improving at it
They acticely support each other to practice their hobbies - she goes to yoga while he practices bass and that way they both do it and hold each other accountable

All of my relationships have been disasters - either abusive, or with alcoholics or with people who've ended up struggling with mental health issues that they weren't taking responsibility for, and with disappointing sex. Obviously that's on me, I choose the wrong people, but it sucks, I'm a nice person and I'd like to be with someone attractive and fun and supportive but I feel like it won't happen to someone like me. The people I find attractive aren't really into women like me.

I've got a therapist of course, but what the hell. I'm hating having to hear how good their life is and know I'll end up having to settle.

They make an effort to talk to me and invite me round but I'm avoiding them at the moment because of my feekings.

How can I cope constructively?
posted by Chrysalis to Human Relations (22 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I want to point out that there are actually two things going on here:

1. You are envious of them
2. You are feeling bad about yourself

These are related but not entirely the same thing. I am currently feeling pretty good about myself and occasionally still feel envious of others. But when I was feeling worse about myself, I felt a lot of jealousy, envy, and insecurity all the time.

I think the best short term constructive response is, when you are feeling bad, leave your house and do something small that will help you feel better about yourself and get you out of your own head. Like go for a bike ride or a run, or go pet a dog, or walk around the block.

In the long term, I think you need to keep telling yourself that *you* are working on *you,* and you are making progress. You have left behind the abusive partner(s), that is such a huge accomplishment!

Also, if these people are inviting you over, they must think you are cool! So take that as evidence that you are cool.
posted by mai at 7:14 PM on June 11, 2017 [28 favorites]

I think I have two responses to this.

The first is that, a few years ago when I started going to the gym and doing some strength work, and walking on the treadmill, there were a lot of people at the gym who were stronger than me, faster than me, and had more endurance than me. Once they figured out I was sticking around, they got a little bit friendly, and every advance I made there was someone there to congratulate me. The guy on the machine next to me lifting 150 pounds, genuinely happy because I was up to 50, or whatever. They weren't comparing me to themselves, they were comparing me to me, and supporting and celebrating my progress. I've found the same dynamic at, say, road races where the fastest runners stay around near the finish line to cheer on the runners coming behind. If they're comfortable with who they are, and not also doing a lot of comparing, they'll be happy for you too. Like, say, three months from now you tell them, "My ex really trashed my balcony, and I wasn't up to dealing with it for the longest time, but this weekend I finally got it cleaned up and I think I'm going to look for a table and chairs to put out there," they're not going to say, "It will never be anything compared to our exquisite balcony." They will say, "Wow, good for you, that's great," and maybe things like, "I know a great place to get used furniture," or whatever.


I have spent the last three years in really severe chronic pain that has badly limited my ability to do stuff. So, like, for the last six or eight weeks, one of my happiest and most pleasant experiences has been lying in my bed with the window open, feeling fresh cool air coming in through the window and listening to the birds outside. And then I go to Facebook and my friends are all like "Here we are in Paris!" and "Just finished my first half-marathon!" and "Here we are with the kids hiking in the forest!" and "going camping this weekend!" and "just booked our Alaska cruise."

Which is to say that there are times when people have things you don't or can't have, and it can suck. It can be painful. And that's OK. I have had to take Facebook breaks when I just wasn't up to seeing how happy and active my friends are, even though most of the time I am sincerely happy for them. Because I want to be really happy about my fresh air and my birdsong, and I am, but then sometimes I am reminded how small a pleasure that is, and get sad.

So, I guess I'm saying, on the one hand, don't be hard on yourself about these feelings when you see that they have qualities in your life that you don't have and wish you might. But on the other hand, remember that if life is a race of any kind, you're really only racing against yourself, and your own personal best is as meaningful and important as anyone else's. Be aspirational, but on your own terms and at your own pace. And look for the pleasures and satisfactions you have, whatever your equivalent of fresh air and birdsong is. Notice and appreciate them, even as you strive for more satisfactions, greater pleasures, and a bigger life.
posted by Orlop at 7:34 PM on June 11, 2017 [98 favorites]

I'm really sorry you're going through this. I have felt the same way about guys many times. Worse than that, there was a time period that I didn't like going into bookstores anymore, even though they have been the joy of my life since I was a child, because I was upset that I had not published a book yet, and every book by a writer my age made me feel inadequate just by existing.

I suggest that you return their friendly overtures and get to know them better, because there might be a key to stopping this particular issue in it. There's a good chance that in knowing these people better, especially the guy, you will realize that you don't want what they have. Maybe he gets tiresome. Maybe he's the kind of person who recounts the plots of shows you haven't seen in detail. Maybe you come to realize that building furniture with someone would drive you bananas. Then you can feel free to just plain like these people. (Or not, depending.)

After I was having trouble going into bookstores, I started reading more, and eventually I discovered that I didn't want to have written any of the books that made me jealous. It helped tremendously. I no longer feel that way about a bookstore.

I was also having therapy at the time, particularly CBT. These techniques help me with defeatist thought spirals. I still have them, of course, but I have ways to cope now.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:49 PM on June 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Isn't it possible that being close to them means you're close to the life you want? You could be living in a place so bad that people like them would never live there. Now, the only real differences between you and them can be addressed incrementally. One shirt. One thing cleaned up. One thing they do or have that you decide _isn't_ for you, so you do something completely different. This isn't some kind of creepy plan I'm recommending, just pointing out that the differences between you and them aren't _insurmountable_.
posted by amtho at 7:51 PM on June 11, 2017 [17 favorites]

Get your own practice going AND STICK WITH IT.

I really think you need to do something in a hiking or yoga-type vein, basically something that ends up being very meditative. You can ad hoc put something together. I once ended up doing this thing where I would listen to audio lectures from Wayne Dyer or Deepak Chopra while hiking, stopping midway to do a 20 min meditation that included some basic chanting and breathwork. It was actually very very effective and TOTALLY changed every other area of my life. Then I stopped doing it. Which was dumb. But I have a different practice now that I really really love. So, it works out...

You really need a practice. ASAP.

Number 2, put on some nice ambient music loud enough so you don't hear them. Have it playinv in your space at all times, setting the tone in your home. Deep clean your home or hire someone to do a one time deep clean and maintain it yourself. Clean up your balcony, ask a friend to help you.

I think it's OK to avoid your neighbors because being too chummy with your neighbors can be awkward. Go ahead and keep avoiding those folks, but gosh darnnit please put enerhy into you! You are awesome and wirthy and you can do this. Get a practice. Everything comes after that. I promise.
posted by jbenben at 8:08 PM on June 11, 2017 [7 favorites]

If you want to meet nice people, you have to say yes to them. If you keep avoiding them, they'll stop inviting you. And getting to know them a little better may help your mood and feelings. And maybe you'll meet other nice people through them and their social circle. Why not try going to yoga with her a few times? Or say you don't do yoga but how about going for ice cream? You may also discover that all these things you think you know about them aren't quite the way they seem to you—maybe they build furniture because they don't make quite as much money as you think they do. Don't assume and write scripts ahead of time. Enjoy getting to know them. Maybe they'll build you some furniture for your balcony.
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:28 PM on June 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Countess Elena, that is basically exactly my experience (the bookstore thing). And I do get pangs from time to time, but then I realise: that was my desire at a certain point in my life. While it would have been good if it turned out that way, it didn't, and when I look at books by people my age I realise: "I might not have written a book, but at least I didn't write this book."

Perhaps what you might like to try, Chrysalis, is reassessing exactly where you are and what you want. Building wooden furniture is cool, probably, but does that mean you want to do it? Practising an instrument diligently, every day, is certainly going to make you a better instrumentalist...but do you even want to be an instrumentalist?

Having awesome sex and earning loads of money and whatever else is probably awesome and all, but many Buddhists, for example, don't fuck anything and don't earn shit and are some of the most contented people on earth.

When I was in my early teens I wanted to be journalist. In my later teens I wanted to be a computer journalist. In my twenties I wanted to be some kind Charles Bukowski-Stanley Donwood chimera. When I was a kid I wanted to be probably an army guy or a ghost or something. Now I have a vaguely satisfying career earning vaguely reasonable money and have some fairly decent prospects for my future and you know what I want to do? I want to play Prey on the Xbox.

While I'm playing Prey on the Xbox I want to be outside tending to my chilli plants. While I'm tending to my chilli plants I want to go bushwalking. While I'm bushwalking I want to be a forest ranger. But when I come across an injured animal I basically have a mental breakdown and can barely function, and a big part of a forest ranger's job is dealing with exactly that sort of thing. So maybe I need to develop the fortitude needed to deal with that in a productive way? Well, I'm not going to try exposure therapy, so maybe I'll do something else to build strength in other ways: maybe I'll read the Stoics, and maybe I'll deadlift a couple of times a week.

It is the curse of being human that we always want to be doing the things we're not doing, and always want to have the things we don't or can't have. But one of the benefits of being human is that we can use our advanced reasoning to assess and perhaps re-appreciate what we are doing and what we do have. What we considered our trajectory five or ten or only a year ago most likely isn't, and when we investigate it we will more often than not discover that that's not really what we wanted anyway. You reach an intellectual terminus and realise you need a plan to continue, or you need to go back, or you need to jump on another track. Whichever direction you're heading, at least it's a direction.

Perhaps that's just making excuses for our own failures, or our laziness, or our lack of diligence or talent or graft, but all life is is a magpie experiment of gathering or building shit - thoughts, things, skills, experiences, ideas - and surrounding ourselves with it.

As any hoarder knows (or maybe doesn't?), gather or build enough shit and pretty soon you lose track of everything, and you don't know what you have so you figure you don't have it.

But chances are you do have it, or at least, you have a version or edition or simulacra of it, but it's been lost and forgotten under all the other, more recent shit. I'm assuming you haven't just been sitting still, doing and thinking nothing, for the past five years, so that means something has to have been happening.

So you've had an important realisation, and noticed that you've got a ton of magpie experiment shit. You have begun to investigate it.

This puts you at a perfectly thrilling crossroads: perhaps the shit you have now is the shit you really want (I'm talking about non-awful things in your life, of course, not terrible exes and the like), but you just didn't realise it, because you were still thinking about all that other shit?

Or perhaps, as you scratch through your piles of shit, you reaffirm that, yes, this is exactly the shit I wanted and the shit I should be doing, and thus you are reinvigorated and pursue it again with fervour and renewed purpose?

Either way your magpie experiment continues. I used to compare myself with other people: now I just compare myself with myself last week, because I'm the only person who can or will or should ever be me. I just try my best to set my trajectory "vaguely upwards, or at least forwards with the promise of a very slight incline at some point down the track". It isn't being happy or satisfied and content with how things are, it is a matter of being happy and satisfied and content with how you are. Find that, and find the approaches to your very own slight, slow, steady and vague incline. Tailor your magpie experiment to that, and even the very smallest of things will be contributing towards it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:30 PM on June 11, 2017 [34 favorites]

Jealousy can be a clue that you need or want something, and taking steps to address that can ease your jealousy. Maybe you want more connection in your life, clothes you feel good in, a healthy relationship, an attractive home, a job that pays better, engagement in creative hobbies. Give it some thought, though, because sometimes the thing that sparks the jealousy is not exactly the thing you need.

Yes on the ambient noise! Don't put yourself through listening to things that make you so miserable. If the noise doesn't help enough, try earplugs.
posted by bunderful at 8:34 PM on June 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

You are still in recovery from a terrible relationship (and other stuff, too, it sounds like); you are tender and have sore places and scars that haven't healed. Be easy on yourself! If you were recovering from a long illness, it would probably irritate you to see people walking around carefree and healthy and not needing to worry about the things you worry about, but those thoughts wouldn't make things any better.

Mentally, you are still in recovery. You are seeing your therapist, and that's good, but it doesn't sound like you're giving yourself space to heal. Think of yourself with compassion. It sounds strange, but praise yourself for the things you do that are right--going to work, taking care of life crap, whatever you do that is good, even if it's not perfect, praise yourself for, as you would a friend. It sounds dumb, but it actually does have a good effect.

The envy you feel is natural, but not based on reality. No one knows what another person's life is really like from inside. Everyone has some sorrow and struggle, even people who look perfect. You can safely assume that the couple next door has or will experience some kind of trouble in their life. And you can't really compare whether they have "more" trouble, because whatever problems they have will be apples to your oranges, if you know what I mean. Their trouble is unique to them; yours is unique to you. Everyone has a different path and different challenges and you aren't competing against anyone--happiness is not a competition, and you can't win at it.

What might be another way of looking at this is that you are doing something healthy, too; you are seeking models and examples of what a happy life could look like. You clearly like some things that you have observed them doing. So write that down. What about their life do you really think would be awesome? What do you not care so much about? Keep that list in mind as you go forward in your life and see if you can make a version of the most important things that fits you. If you hang out with them, pay attention to their life, not just superficially, and note the things you wouldn't do along with the ones you would.
posted by emjaybee at 8:46 PM on June 11, 2017 [7 favorites]

There's a book that you might find helpful: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. There are only so many fucks that you have to give. Is this the way you want to use those precious fucks?
posted by medusa at 8:48 PM on June 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

There's that cliche, that we compare our behind-the-scenes with everybody else’s highlight reel. No matter how good somebody's life looks, it's not impossible they're at least as miserable and fucked-up as we are.

I also try to bear in mind something I heard, that the best way to increase self-esteem is to perform esteemable acts. Instead of hating yourself for things you haven't accomplished, focus on doing those things!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:53 PM on June 11, 2017 [11 favorites]

Amen to Ursula Hitler's response. We all have our own happiness set points and what you see versus their experience is probably wildly different. How about reframing your thoughts thusly:

I'm jealous/envious of my neighbours and it's making me feel bad. What to do?

They look at you and think how lucky you are to have your own space and not have to come home to someone who drives them crazy.

They are both very good looking and always dressed cool

All they want to do is wear sweatpants and dirty t-shirts but their social groups are incredibly high maintenance who give them a hard time if they'e not always dressed to a T. And anyway, whenever they look in the mirror, the reflection tells them they don't look good enough.

They have been together for ages and still have regular loud sex that sounds like the woman is having a very good time. It's depressing to listen to.

She just wants to get back to "Orange is the New Black" but knows if she makes it look like she's having a good time he'll stop and she can relax with Taystee and Ben and Jerry's.

They earn a lot more money than I do

And they have correspondingly high bills. Every month, they wonder why they're paying for Hulu AND Netflix and artesian water and spending so much cash at Whole Foods when all they do is throw most of the produce out anyway.

They do activities together like freaking build wooden furniture by hand for their balcony, which also looks super cool whereas mine has been trashed by an ex and I haven't gotten around to making it look nice

They're both exhausted doing these activities but their therapist said to try it so they're doing it but they hate wooden furniture and would rather take naps.

He practices his instrument more than I do and is improving at it

His inner monolgue screams at him, "Practice, you lazy bastard. You'll NEVER be as good as your brother!"

They acticely support each other to practice their hobbies - she goes to yoga while he practices bass and that way they both do it and hold each other accountable

She only does yoga to get away from him pretending to be Adam Clayton in U2 and doing his rock star poses in the mirror, which she can't stand. Also, she has a crush on her yoga instructor and is considering having an affair with him.

Not so perfect now, huh?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:53 AM on June 12, 2017 [11 favorites]

The phrase I always repeat to myself is "don't compare your insides to other people's outsides". There's so many people I've met who seem to have the perfect life but once I get to know them better, are actually struggling with something or have made life choices/trade offs that I wouldn't want to make. You can use your feelings as a push to make your life the way you want it.
posted by TheLateGreatAbrahamLincoln at 5:21 AM on June 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

I would actually warn against focusing on trying to find or fantasize about flaws in these people. That's not really fair to them or to you. They may be deeply flawed individuals, they may in fact be perfectly wonderful people. I don't really think it's healthy or helpful for you to try and turn your envy into scorn instead. Just accept them for who they are or seem to be, it's not your business to try and invent inner lives for them that may or may not be real.

It just sounds like they have, for lack of a better term, more spoons than you at the moment. You seem to be doing a lot of heavy work on yourself, which leaves you without much energy for hobbies or more ephemeral forms of self-care. This is a temporary state of affairs for you. You're doing interior work, which is hard for people to see, and not really something that you can show off like a new piece of hand-built furniture, but it's just as real.

Bring this up with your therapist. This could be a real growth area for you, as a way to generate greater compassion for yourself and others.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:44 AM on June 12, 2017 [14 favorites]

I'm hating having to hear how good their life is and know I'll end up having to settle.

This mindset is why I don't think it's a good idea, as others have suggested, to imagine they're secretly miserable. It's just creating yet another fantasy.

The way I cope when I feel this way is to remind myself, what can I do, right now? I can't quit my job and travel through Europe, but I can make a nice pasta dinner and salad. I can't buy a new house, but I can clean the apartment I have. Most of us always have something we can do, no matter how small it is, to make us feel a little more how we'd like to feel.
posted by girlmightlive at 5:59 AM on June 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

This isn't a neighbour problem at all.

All of my relationships have been disasters - either abusive, or with alcoholics or with people who've ended up struggling with mental health issues that they weren't taking responsibility for, and with disappointing sex. Obviously that's on me, I choose the wrong people, but it sucks, I'm a nice person and I'd like to be with someone attractive and fun and supportive but I feel like it won't happen to someone like me. The people I find attractive aren't really into women like me

It sounds to me like you are at that awkward point where you realize your experiences and beliefs have led you to stay in relationships that aren't what you want, and you are starting to decide that you don't want to put up with it anymore...but you don't really believe that you are deserving and what's more, that there are people who will treat you that way too.

In an AskMe we can't convince you that one day you will have that supportive partner, so let's just lay that aside.

You want: a nice place, to practice music, and a life that gives you joy.

Every time you find yourself focusing on the neighbours, understand that this is you telling you what to do. Clean up the balcony, do your practice, play with your clothes to make new outfits, move furniture around or thrift or whatever with that energy. You'll end up learning your own deep capacities for making a good life, and get the better space, etc. Eventually your thoughts will change.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:59 AM on June 12, 2017 [9 favorites]

A lot of good advice above, but I just wanted to add one thing:

I've lived within range of five couples who regularly had loud, amazing sex. Four of those relationships ended for reasons that made it pretty clear that the sex was entirely performative for at least one of the participants.
posted by Etrigan at 6:53 AM on June 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

Nthing that you are comparing your worst fears and anxieties with the face this couple puts out to the world. A few other points:

I used to have a very good friend and was always jealous because she was more fit, got more attention from guys, and had a great, thoughtful husband. When I sort of mentioned this to her, she immediately told me she was always a bit jealous of me. I'm single, I can go where I want and date who I want, I have some skills she doesn't, etc.

Happiness isn't a zero sum game. This couple being so happy and successful - which may or may not even be the case - doesn't take away your capacity for being happy and successful. You don't even need to be making extreme progress at an instrument to be happy, and you don't need a partner to be happy.

(Platitude from instagram:) "You know, it's totally possible to have big, huge, gigantic dreams, yet still be deliriously happy with today." You can want all the stuff this couple has, but still find happiness with the special, unique things in your own life.
posted by violetish at 7:28 AM on June 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

I work in a very stratified career, and I am friends with some people who are newer and greener than I am, and some who much more experienced and successful than I am. Both groups are deeply neurotic about their careers and talents and prospects. Despite major variances in actual outcomes, in my observation their measurable successes don't seem to make much difference in terms of how happy they are about their lives. They all want more.

One friend has had incredible success and accolades. The year he won two huge awards for two different stellar projects, all he could talk about was how he didn't feel like he fit in at work, tiny jealous tiffs and status-jostling with coworkers, and ambition so overwhelming it was visibly chewing him up inside.

One friend is beloved by all she meets and also won a great award for her work. But while that work was in progress she had called me every day almost in tears with anxiety about it, and secret envy for everyone else's successes.

One friend is just starting out and has had almost no success and lots of setbacks. She's diligent and works her butt off but still confesses to me that she's unhappy with her work ethic and success.

One friend is kind of lazy and entitled, and moderately successful by luck. She also confesses to me that she's unhappy with her work ethic and success.

I mean... there's a common theme here and lots of aphorisms to describe it- "the grass is always greener". Nobody's inner life is as happy and perfect as they look on the outside!

Maybe when the guy starts playing bass you could use that time for a little goal-reaching of your own? Go out and run the stairs in your building, every time. Use their (perceived) successes as a nudge to create your own.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:48 AM on June 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Change your paradigm:

You live in a neighbourhood full of the kind of guys you find attractive. Not only that, but they seem to be the kind of guys who like to settle down.... :D

There are at least three people in your building who are very good looking and who (whenever reasonable) dress cool.

People in your area and demographic tend to end up in long term relationships with good sex....

You (and a lot of other people) practice good financial habits that make your money go a long way and don't end up trapped in debt so you can afford the things that make life nice.

You (and a lot of other people) work to make your apartments look good. It's fun to do, and cosy. But then your apartment has a nice layout that makes it possible. Good bones make a great foundation.

You have the opportunity for a new project! Fixing up your balcony. Hmmm... What would look really good, to start with. Assume this is an on going project, not one that you are going to spend a lot of money on at once, so start by cleaning and getting rid of broken stuff and mending it, can you re-purpose anything? What does it need? Can you find pictures on the internet for inspiration, find anything cheap or second hand or free, or make it yourself? Would plants be a good idea? What kind of seating would you like? Shade? A hammock? What colour scheme?

Hey, forcing function.... your neighbours practice bass and yoga at precisely 6 PM every evening - that would be the exact right time for YOU to practice ..... As soon as you hear his bass starting up you know its time to....

He's improving at his instrument and you are not? Why? Have you figured out why your progress has plateaued? Are you bored? Do you need more material? Different material? Different exercises? More fingering work? More fun and less drill? Someone to practice with? It's good that you've spotted a problem? Once you name the problem: Insufficient incentive, no progress.... That's excellent. Your next step is to figure out the cause of the problem and solve it.
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:15 AM on June 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

I read a lot of unhappiness in your own situations into your post. It might help to fix some of the things that bother you. Maybe you can start by

+ cleaning up and/or fixing up your deck

+ redecorating (This doesn't have to be a big financial investment. Decluttering, moving some things, repainting can all make a place much nicer with minimal investment.)

+ practice your music

I also found online dating really helpful when I was ready to date after a long dry spell. If you're honest about yourself and your desires, it can be a lot easier to meet a suitable match than just going to bars or meeting via friends.
posted by Cranialtorque at 8:46 AM on June 12, 2017

Those bastards! Ok, you have The Achievers living next door, and they're hard to ignore. But they are nice people and they like you, so how bad can you be? There's 2 of them, so they can get more stuff done, like patio decorating. It's hard to deal with the fallout from your ex- and the depression and the loneliness, and you've been managing and coping and doing just fine.

I have my own struggles. At times, my life has been at least a little enviable. At other times, it's all I can do to get out of bed and get dressed. There are a fair number of people who are smarter, cooler, have their act more together, have better jobs, better-looking, etc., than you, or me. That is always going to be the case. There are people, including lots of people here on Ask.Me, whose lives are many different kinds of screwed up. There are, of course, no stupid people here, but there's a couple craptons of documentation on how to screw up a life or 2. You're doing okay, really.

Make a list of ways you are a terrific person, and things you've accomplished. You haven't kicked a puppy in at least a year. You sent your Mom that card that one Mother's Day. You graduated from 8th grade. You are a person with intense feelings and right now a lot of those feelings are crummy. You deserve to feel okay, in fact, you deserve to feel great.

Get a calendar and some stickers and colored markers. Set your goals. Make them small at first and always manageable. Break it down into very small components. We really do know that exercise, sunlight, good nutrition, and nature help depression. So goal one is some sort of exercise. Even a walk to the convenience store counts. Any time you accomplish a component of a goal, you get a little star on the calendar that day. 5 continuous days with stars on the calendar gets a sticker. 5 stickers gets a treat. A treat can be buying some new music, or a new eyebrow pencil, whatever. If you have a month where you have accomplished something towards a goal every day, get a manicure or a haircut or something that will encourage you when you see it. Applying rewards to yourself can feel dumb, but it works.

Get outdoors when you can. Take Vitamin D. Prioritize healthy eating and exercise. Get rid of the broken patio crap and get a couple chairs. Invite a friend over for wine or coffee. Start rebuilding the happy life you deserve.

Treat the neighbors as a resource. Well, not in a creepy way, but they are offering you friendship. They probably have the occasional party, they probably have some nice friends. Expanding your social circle can be pretty nice.

When they have sex or other loud happy times, play music. Music works on you and can really provide energy or solace. I posted this Ask.Me about podcasts and it was incredibly fruitful. Listen to stuff that covers the sounds of their lives and makes you feel better. I need to download more of these and get listening, myself.

Envy makes you feel so shitty. Make sure your therapist is really helping. You deserve a great life.
posted by theora55 at 9:21 AM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

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