Last year, I had a conversation with a friend of mine – Sol – who went from being over 300 pounds, to now being in fitness model shape, and I was intrigued (and saddened) by one thing he told me.
He said that as soon as he started getting healthier, the most surprising thing happened: at first, his friends and family cheered him on.
“You’re looking great dude!! Keep it up, that’s amazing. You deserve it.”
But once he started to look really good, once he got under 220 pounds (still a big guy for his height) people started acting differently.
Suddenly, friends and family told him to start eating more because they were worried about him.
He was still 220 pounds, and he wanted to be 180 pounds. He knew he was still at an unhealthy weight. And the people that once supported him and congratulated him now told him he was looking sickly.
For a while he couldn’t shake the feeling and it puzzled him why anyone would do that. But actually he had a really important realization: he got a first-class lesson in something I call the “bystander effect.”
Why Everyone Will Hate You For Being Successful, Healthy, and Happy – The Bystander Effect 101
How to Avoid Others From Sabotaging You
It goes without saying: anything you want to do that’s contrary to the “norm” will encounter resistance from other people.
Whether you want to be more successful, whether you want to be happier and healthier, or whether you want to start taking more vacations – even your close friends and family will envy you.
And the sad truth is that by becoming successful, most people will hate you – even if they don’t say it. Even your family and friends will resent you.
The bystander effect is what happens when OTHER people watch YOU go after the dream… while they let their own dream wither and die.
People hate you for being healthy, because the average person KNOWS he or she needs to be healthier.
They have the same fear of dying young that you do, they have the same fear of missing out on life that you do, and they have the same desire to look and feel amazing – to extend their life, without having a constant low level of fear and anxiety in the back of their mind.
The difference is that you are taking steps to make that a reality, whereas the average person is consumed with fear or frustration. The little roadblocks become big roadblocks to them.
How People Will Try to Sabotage You
The ways people try to sabotage others are hilarious to me.
Most people won’t flat out say they envy you or are jealous (obviously), but they’ll say things like:
“Oh come on, it’s just a cookie, live a little.”
And it’s funny to me because it’s almost a passive aggressive way of encouraging someone else to fail, so they can feel better about themselves.
It’s like the old saying – there are two ways to build the tallest building in town: Build a taller building, or tear down all the other buildings around it. The majority of people would rather tear you down, so they feel a bit better about themselves, than just step up their game and show up in a more awesome way.
But I know YOU want something bigger from life. You want to be that 1% success story – you want to be the outlier, you want to be the person that others look to for inspiration. And you can.
Then there’s the sugar pusher:
After pushing the cookies into your face, she asks, “Want some cookies?”
Damn, couldn’t you have asked me that from across the room?
It’s more subtle pressure than someone flat out commenting on your appearance, or on your level of success.
But my point is the same: this kind of pressure is everywhere. And if you aren’t careful, you can really let it get to you.
How to Approach Bystanders
Understand that largely, the people that hate on others are deeply unhappy with that aspect of their lives.
Ever notice how it’s the poorest friend hating on rich people?
Or the person who wants to get healthier that hates on the fit girl?
Or the girl who always has dysfunctional relationships that’s hating on love?
Yeah, it makes sense, right?
Understand that with the average person (or even friend or family member), they’ll try to sabotage you when you have something they want.
Personally, I view this as the point where that internal fortitude comes in.
This is where YOU being obsessed with your dream comes in.
EVERYONE, even many of the people you love, will try to take it from you. It reminds them of their own dissatisfaction with their health, and honestly, their life.
So you have to be strong, and be a role model not only for yourself, but for others.
Think of it like this: people are going to hate you for something, why not have them hate you for living an incredible life?
Your Tiny Habit For Today
The takeaway for you today is simple.
Once you get closer to the health you want, the body you want and the life you want – people will get jealous.
And that often includes your friends, family, and other people.
And sometimes you’ll lose friends over it. People will resent you. Some will try to sabotage you by offering up “suggestions” on what you should or shouldn’t do.
Stop doing that.
Ignore all of them.
And then just keep plugging away towards the dream.
What has someone said to you to try and discourage or sabotage you? Share below.