When Others Want You To Stay Small

Some people want you to live small. Don't let them.

Some people want you to stay small. Don’t let them.

I’m sure that this won’t surprise you in the slightest bit, but there are quite a few “enemies of positivity” in this world.

I’ve already talked about how to tap into your “infinite fuel” to plow through the naysayers and skeptics who don’t believe that you have what it takes to reach your wildest dreams.

I’ve already talked about how to easily wipe the floor with the haters, trolls, and the other broken souls who get off on telling you how pathetic you are (they’re wrong about that, by the way.)

Unfortunately, there’s another group of people who don’t quite fit into either category, and they can wreak havoc on your happiness and sanity, if you let them.

You may work with these people, be friends with these people (which is a terrible idea, by the way), be related to these people, or you might even be married to a person who falls into this category.

These are the people who desperately want you to live a life that’s smaller than the life you’re capable of living.

The good news is that living a “small life” is a choice.

And it’s a choice that you don’t ever have to make.

Living Small

Sadly, in our lives there will always be people who want you to play small, live small, and be small.

For example:

  • When you commit to start working out and going to the gym regularly, there are people in your life who may not like that.
  • When you start researching colleges so that you can fulfill your dream of getting a college degree, there are people in your life who may not like that.
  • When you don’t join your buddies for your afternoon cigarette break because you’re committing to quit smoking this year, there are people in your life who may not like that.
  • When you decide to stay home to work on your business/blog/book/awesome project instead of going out to the bar for drinks, there are people in your life who may not like that.
  • When you pass on a huge slice of red velvet cake at dinner because you’re committing to eating healthier, there are people in your life who may not like that.
  • When you ask to change the subject of the conversation to something more positive instead of engaging in constant complaining, gossip, or backstabbing, there are people in your life who may not like that.

Why is this the case? It can’t because these people want you to live small, right?

Well yeah…actually, they do.

Some people can’t handle it when people are making positive changes in their lives. For some people, your new growth makes them feel small. Instead of finding it encouraging or inspiring, they find it to be annoying. The fact that you’ve found the courage to do big things in your life will make them reflect on why they haven’t found the courage and the guts to do the same.

And that makes them uncomfortable. It would be easier for them if you just stayed the same.

But thankfully, this isn’t about them.

It’s about you.

Why You’re Here

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” -Marianne Williamson

Seriously, take a minute to marinate in the brilliance of Ms. Williamson’s epic quote above.

The stone cold truth is that you are here to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous. If you think otherwise, do you really believe that you’re here on this earth to be stupid, plain, incapable, and mediocre?

It’s even worse if you’ve made the life-destroying choice to stay small because you don’t want offend your friends/coworkers/family members/significant other, (etc.) If so, then it’s time for a serious and much-needed wake up call.

What sense does it make to not grow and progress in your life because it may make someone else feel bad?

I know far too many people (I used to be one of them) who are fearful of living up to their fullest potential because it may make other people in their lives feel upset because they’re not living up to their fullest potential.

Not to sound insensitive, but that’s not your problem–it’s their problem.

You only have one shot at this life. Just one. And believe me, every minute that you voluntarily spend living a “small-time” life is a minute where you are actively and purposely dishonoring yourself.

You’ve outgrown peer pressure, right?

Are you really going to stop eating healthier because your family members are giving you a hard time about ordering steamed veggies instead of chili cheese fries when you’re out having dinner together?

Are you really going to quit working toward your college degree because your buddies are calling you a “nerd” or a “sellout” for staying home to study while they’re out partying?

Are you really going to join in on the gossip, backstabbing, and complaining because it will make your coworkers feel uncomfortable if you don’t?

I hope the answer to all of the above is a resounding “No.”

Make no mistake about it–you’re here to shine as bright as you possibly can while you’re here on this earth. If other people can’t seem to get with the “new you,” or they’re uncomfortable by your light, like I said before–that’s their problem.

Remember, they have every opportunity to shine bright too, if they have the guts to make it happen. But like Marianne said above, most people are too scared of their own light to ever do it.

The good news is that your world will change overnight once you realize that you don’t have to be one of those people anymore.

The World Needs Your Light

The sad truth is that whenever you make big positive changes in your life, there will be some people who will try to slow you down, discourage you, or in extreme cases, flat out try to sabotage you.

That’s fine. Just don’t let them stop you.

This is your life, not theirs.

It is absolute insanity to choose to “live small” to avoid offending the people in your life who are also stuck living small. I really hope that you’re with me on this.

Finding the courage to live up to your fullest potential has the power to positively change the world, not just for you, but also for your kids, your friends, and the many others who you’ll inspire along the way. But if you choose (and yes, it’s a choice) to live small, you’ll only succeed in living a sorry, mediocre life full of sadness, pain, and intense regret before your ride on earth comes to an end.

There is absolutely no honor in living small. None whatsoever.

As for the people who are trying to keep you living small, just remember this:

The people who are giving you a hard time about making all of those positive life changes will eventually be the same ones who will ask you how you did it.

Choose to live large, not small–and most importantly, keep moving forward.


The world needs your light more than ever.

Your Turn

Have you ever felt guilty about living up to your fullest potential? Have you ever had anyone in your life who wanted you to “live small?” If so, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

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Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.

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  1. Hiteshkumar says:

    What you think or believe that you become…
    So always keep ourselves in abundance for to attract good fortune, but for all these we have to be more aware and awake every moments

  2. I could not agree more Shola. If you really take this advice to heart, the sky’s the limit. You have to believe in your positive, transformative choices more than other people’s negativity. You’ll know when others are trying to keep you down because you will feel worse after talking to them. You want to limit that negativity as much as possible, and by you standing firm in your decisions and having good outcomes, you may begin to influence them positively (which they really need).

    • That was beautifully said, Laura. Everything in my life changed for the positive once I believed in my own transformative choices more than the negative opinions of others (which wasn’t easy for me, at first). I agree wholeheartedly–I knew that I was being held down by other people whenever I felt worse after I shared my goal/dream with them. As you said, the best way to positively change them in to keep making positive changes, which ideally, will inspire them to change as well.

  3. Kathleen Carey says:

    Hi Shola,

    I feel you. I’ve known a few people who criticized what I “wasn’t” doing. I wasn’t living their lifestyle – I chose my own path instead of trying to “fit in” to their group. I was ostracized from any of their social activities, but what I found most interesting, is that they made sure I was aware of how they were excluding me. It is almost as if they wished to keep me in their grip to show they were “better” than me, to suppress my light. Maybe it was just too bright and they kept bumping into walls….

    It is disheartening how easy it is for people to crush your light – with persistence we can poke holes in the cover and eventually seep through.

    I hope your talk went really well last week!

    All my best,

    • Kathleen, I love that you said maybe your light was too bright, and they kept bumping into walls. Funny, positive spin on their behavior =-)

    • Hey Kat! I agree with Donna–I loved the line that your light was too bright and they kept bumping into walls, what a great visual! From some reason, when people choose to form cliques to exclude people, it’s very important for those people to know that *you know* that you’re being excluded. So weird. Either way, don’t let that foolishness dim your light in any way!

      Also, the talk went very well, thanks for asking! It must have been the positive vibes from our coffee/tea date a few hours earlier 🙂

  4. Shola, what a good topic, to remind us there are those who put a damper on our progress and goals. Sadly, this can come from people who are supposed to care about us, like friends & family. They can be crafty, and sound like they are questioning us because they “care” and are “worried”. “Aren’t you getting too thin” (this AFTER the doctor already said my weight is perfect), “Aren’t you afraid that while you’re riding your bicycle you’ll get hit by a speeding semi and killed?” They’ll put on a show, “I am so worried about you!”, and pretend to support you, “You’re perfect the way you are!” My cycling friend James came up with the perfect response. When someone said “I am so worried about you getting too thin”, he responded warmly with his great smile, “Wow, you never said you were worried when I weighed 400 lbs.!”. When someone said they were afraid he would get killed on the highway he responded, smiling and giving off great positive energy, “Wow, you never said you were afraid I would die when I was morbidly obese!”. He doesn’t argue with them, nor does he waste time justifying his weight or exercise routines. He just points out, with a huge smile, their hypocrisy, and moves on. As he walks away, he tells them to “Have a blessed day”, and he is not sarcastic. He really, really means it, and says it sincerely. I aspire to his highly evolved example, to respond to sabotage with love and light, and stay on my path.

  5. Donna, isn’t it interesting the lengths that people will go in order to make sure they keep people living small? I have definitely been on the wrong side of the pseudo-caring responses too (“are you sure that you want to start a blog/write a book? Most of those fail, and I would hate for you to waste your time, blah, blah, blah…”) I absolutely LOVE your friend James’s responses! It is such a powerful way to point out their hypocrisy, while also being kind about it. Please tell him that I plan on borrowing his response the next time that I get one of those comments in the future!

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