Circumstances Where I’m NOT Happy for You

Teresa TropeaI recently discovered within myself, a feeling or “pang” that came to conscious awareness.  This was a sensation I no doubt have had most of my life but only realized its presence in certain situations.  It comes as a wave, in the center of my being, deep within the self and once noticed, I wanted to fully understand it.

Firstly, all of my life I have been very excited for the successes of others. I understood from an early age (through the parenting of my mother) that the success of another has no bearing on my own life. In no way does the success of another take away anything from me. In fact, watching someone else succeed is very inspirational. It shows me the path I too could take and it acts as a role model for what can be achieved in life.  I am most grateful for those around me when I am witness to their successes, no matter what they may be.  Watching colleagues write best-selling books, watching relationships grow and blossom, watching the dreams of others come into fruition makes me feel absolutely elated.  I am delighted and filled with joy for all of these and more.  So the question came when I recently realized a pang of unhappiness at someone’s so-called success.

Upon deep examination of the emotion I realized what this was and why I was feeling it.  The emotion was a pang of sadness when someone’s success was achieved at the expense of another.  When a romantic relationship develops that does not honour previous partners but rather, was built on secrets, lies and deceit, it brings a pang of sadness inside me.  When a colleague achieves success by lying or cheating others, the success is accompanied by an empty  well of emotion for me.  Even those who succeed by hyper-competitiveness where success is marked by being ahead of another in some way, brings a feeling of being let down.

Upon reflection I came to see that the deep pang inside of me is accompanied by a knowing that these successes, in the end, cannot remain intact.  Success gained off the back of another will not be sustained. It’s merely a matter of time before the law of “what goes around comes around” will equalize all things. My sadness is embedded in the fact that those who do not yet know this law will soon come to feel its justice.  A success had on the backs of others can never truly be a success.  Just as feeling elation from the demise of another cannot feel good for very long.  The great equalizer of life will soon show its hand and justice will prevail.  Either in a day, weeks or even years, the hand of justice will equalize all things and perhaps here in lies the rub.  My pang of sadness and pain is for those who believe they have succeeded by cheating, lying, stealing or deceiving others but their difficult challenges are yet to come.  Such successes will carry as much pain in the future as they do joy in the moment.

In great happiness for all your true successes,


Teresa L. DeCicco, PhD, is the author of “Living Beyond the Five Senses: The Emergence of a Spiritual Being” and “The Giant Compass: Navigating The Life of Your Dreams”  You can see more of her work at