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This is EXACTLY Why People Hate Successful, Healthy, and Happy People (The “Bystander Effect”)

Why people will hate you for being successful thumb

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

First… empathy.

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.

Do this.

Stop doing that.

Ignore all of them.

And then just keep plugging away towards the dream.

– Alex

What has someone said to you to try and discourage or sabotage you? Share below.

Have You Read My New Book Yet?

  Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 bonus video course if you show me your receipt. You can get the audiobook here too.

28 comments… add one

  1. I’ve done a lot of research on human behavior. Excellent article, and sadly, right on target. Keep moving forward, and God bless.

    Thank you…

    1. Thanks Maria 🙂

    2. I can totally relate to your friend in the beginning. Since i’ve started workint out regularly, i’ve had mean, rude comments from my… closest friends ! This is very ironical, because they were supposed to motivate me and push me to my next level whenever I didn’t feel like exercicing. They did at first, and then, when I started taking my exercicing planner and weight loss programm seriously, they started being resentful, envious. I then decided to ignore their scornful comments and get on with my life because honestly, life is too short and this kind of insecure people are not allowed in it. Thank you though for this very interesting (& uplifting) article ! Really useful stuff that i’m going to use from now on whenever people give me dirty looks… haha

      1. It’s scary, huh? What did your friends specifically say to you?

    3. I needed this today. I’ve recently been progressing in major ways toward a healthier lifestyle, promotions at work, higher pay, and more opportunities. Yet, somehow… I have found myself with essentially zero close friends remaining and a significant amount of doubters among my so-called friends and family. I come from an extremely challenging childhood (from living in foster care to experiencing many types of abuse), thus you can imagine how important it is for me to prove statistics wrong. This article explains what I am facing to a T! I have built something out of NOTHING and yet, the hate seems to continue piling up. Thank you for writing this piece. It has truly made my day and given me a better perspective.<3

  2. Good article Alex, i typed some people hate people with dreams in google and came across this artcile, i was searching for this cause i feel when i tell people that i am working on my dream or on something bigger in the beggining they get excited and ecnourage me but then i slowly see them go away from my life, i think it’s kinda what happened with Sol, another thing that happened that many people were good friends and really nice to me when i was having a hard time but when everything finally wen my way they were not that happy for me and they started to go away too.
    Thank you for the Article.

    1. Just keep plugging along Taha :-), do your best, work hard, and just keep going despite what they say.

  3. “He lives in the gym”
    “He’s an asshole”
    “He’s a douche”
    Heard it all. I just keep grinding and putting in the time at the gym thank to this article. Means a lot and thanks.

    1. Happy to help Braden – and yes, I’ve heard them all too!

  4. I am 5’8″, was 222 and size 18. Got fired from my job at the 37-pound weight-lost mark. I went on to lose 78 pounds, am now 155 and took the 1 off that size 18! And got my license for a great job that I love. And they are still miserable. Crabs in a bucket syndrome.

    1. Congratulations D.L., this is amazing. How’d you stay focused when everyone else was criticizing you?

  5. Thanks for this.

    I’ve been working hard to start a business that very much embodies who I am… I surf, I am a designer, I create clothing for surfing. I’m passionate about it and it shows. I’ve have two friends who somehow have made my endeavor about them.

    One friend who wanted to start a similar business and mentioned it in passing months before I decided to start mine. She never went forward with it. Once I developed my vision I decided to tell her I was starting my own business. She told me:

    “You betrayed me.”, “You’re not who I thought you were.” “you are guilty. You are untrustworthy” “I don’t want to hear about it anymore, you need to stop talking to me now.”

    I’m at a point where my vision for this brand has started to become its own being and I know that if she had put time and attention into her vision she would feel as I do right now, no insecurity in competition because there’s no way we could ever design the same clothing/business.

    A second friend of mine was meant to participate in a photoshoot with my clothing line. When I took a sample photo of her and posted it to Instagram she immediately asked me to remove it. I removed it but I had to ask her if she was going to be comfortable with the photoshoot.

    She was under the impression that she would be able to approve and edit photos before they would be posted. I had to be very forward with her and told her that that is not how it works… photos go to photographer for editing and straight to me, but that she is beautiful and would look great in the photos. I can be very direct when I know I need to have a productive conversation, she kept avoiding me and later told me that I bullied her, cornered her and hurt her feelings by not taking her suggestions.

    I have had the feeling that they have both turned things around on me to make me feel bad. But, my vision is not a short term vision, its a 20 year vision for my future and I’ve decided that anyone that wants to take that away from me can kiss my ass. I’m not here to offend anyone, but I’m not here to yield myself, my goals, my life just to make someone else feel comfortable about theirs.

    Thanks for your video. It was VERY helpful.

  6. Hi Alexander,
    Googled “why do people resent other people?”
    Your pschyological article came up. the situation for me was I had a regular sort of Tea time with a girlfriend, only we drank Red Wine instead. Then yesterday over the phone earlier, said, “I feel like I am handling my problems!” Then later when I was visiting she says the opposite, usually it
    is here I poured you a glass already. Last night it was, “You know wine can give you a really bad headache.” Complete 180′ change in approach towards me. Obviously I did something wrong, taking on the challenge of selling my house and dealing with the R.E. people etc. But I have to do
    this, It is a life goal. But some resent me.

    1. Love hearing this A.B., sounds like things are going much better. Let me know how it goes.

  7. I really needed this video today. Thank you so much. I will continue to be myself and shine and thrive. Of course other people are jealous of my happiness! I have so much at this moment (and I’ve worked really really hard for it, it’s been a journey and I’m in the butterfly stage after years of slogging through caterpillar moods and stages!) I planted seeds and watered and watered and watered and they’re all blooming! That’s the thing about life you can’t be jealous of someone else’s season and harvest the world is always changing I won’t be in as fruitful of a time forever or I wouldn’t grow or make way for the new. I don’t know why I was internalizing one persons passive aggressiveness so much. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    1. It’s not easy to swim against the current Elizabeth…but you do what you have to do, right?

  8. Such a great and true article! I recently lost 20lbs. I was 155 to start and I’m 5’9, never overweight but I always knew I could do better and I was unhappy with the way I looked. I attempted to loose weight for years but always just lost and gained the same 5 lbs. After really looking into myself I got in touch with my emotions and realized I needed to stop binge drinking and eating late night (after drinking especially), in addition I needed to stop treating every date night dinner with my boyfriend as an excuse to eat until I was STUFFED because besides these above scenarios I ate pretty healthy although I ate when I was bored a lot. When I addressed these issues I slowly lost 20lbs over 7 months. People around me said I looked great before and now I was too thin and I shouldn’t loose any more weight. They said “I hope shes OK”. “We’re worried”. “You were never fat!”.

    Yes I was now on the thin side but guess what? I feel amazing, I feel light and happy and daily tasks are more enjoyable. I no longer feel constant bloating and lots of my digestion issues went away. I feel comfortable in clothes. I dont have to worry if something makes me look big because I’m not big anymore. My quality of life has improved so much and with that I just learned to ignore the people trying to bring me down because its really their own insecurities speaking.

  9. Hi there – I was googling why friends resent success and your article was one that came up. It’s hard to accept but people are rarely happy for you, if it reminds them of their own failure.
    One thing I want to mention however, is that the “bystander effect” is a term already coined in human psychology. It is – ” is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help. ” So if there’s a person laying unconscious on a very busy sidewalk, lots of people walking past them – many people do not help simply because nobody else is. I just mentioned it because I was confused at first when I started reading.

    1. Oh man, I just noticed that we have the same name (slightly different spelling) and we both talked about the bystander effect in psychology. xD

  10. Please avoid calling this “the bystander effect.” These are NOT examples of the bystander effect, which is already a well-known phenomenon in psychology. Next time, please do more research and make sure you fully understand a concept before you start using names that have been around for years.

    1. This is not the bystander effect from Psychology, it’s the bystander effect as coined by me, in reference to something different.

  11. This is fact! My family was supportive when I was young and starting, Since then, I have had great success in most every way….and now they despise me, steal from me and they are a victims because i don’t give them their half of the money they think they are entitled too as they sit doing nothing…just for being family they think they are entitled to it. ….and no one has ever paid me back money they borrow from me…..but now I get it.

  12. Thanks for the article! I got into really awesome shape last year & in the middle of that, I started sleeping with a supposed friend. Well on the last night I let that happen, he pretty much threatened to push me down the stairs in his apartment. Everything in my gut tells me that it was his envy & hatred that made him do that to me. I never thought jealousy could make somebody want to end my life. And now I have to live with that.

  13. I’ve had so many things said to me over the years I don’t even know what was the worst thing. The worst people, though, we’re my family and friends turning on me. But I have my bachelor’s of science and they can’t stop what’s already been done. Hahahaha eat it jelly beans. Yeah people hate me way more since I graduated though, and they already wanted me dead. So I just lost a lot of people and said f it, I’ll claim I’m the one who’s changed and walk away from all their negative “you can’t do this you can’t do that” b.s.

  14. I’ve had so many things said to me over the years I don’t even know what was the worst thing. The worst people, though, we’re my family and friends turning on me. But I have my bachelor’s of science and they can’t stop what’s already been done. Hahahaha eat it jelly beans. Yeah people hate me way more since I graduated though, and they already wanted me dead. So I just lost a lot of people and said f it, I’ll claim I’m the one who’s changed and walk away from all their negative “you can’t do this you can’t do that” b.s. Also when I got buff from working out I got accused of taking steroids because “girls can’t develop muscles like that” to which I respond 28 year olds are women, not girls.

  15. I lost 25 pounds in 4 months and I weighed 150 im now down to 125 my so called friends are now starting to call me an asshole or a dick. When I know I havn’t been. It’s kinda getting to me. Im not quitting but it is really tough. How can I not let it get to me?

    1. Hey Brayden,

      The short answer? Try to hang out with more people who are motivated by your success.

  16. I realize that no matter how good of a friend I am. Trying to get over a person’s jealousy who cannot do something with their life. Trying to help them has pushed me over to the edge. She was a friend of mine and made me really angry this time by going too personal and posting her problems with me on Facebook. Clearly, she has issues with me. I did not see the signs clearly till now. By now, I have to get rid of the fact that she will never be happy with what I have accomplished. She calls me best friend but never being one! She talked behind my back, called me names, use other people to get to me. Telling me I have issues. All 6 years of friendship gone in a second.


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