How to Avoid Social Quicksand and Stand Out from the Crowd

Thoughts on escaping the expectations of others to live a happier life.


Believe it or not your life has been dramatically shaped by a phenomenon called "Social Quicksand.”

Social Quicksand is that curious feeling that you get when you are about to do something outside of your comfort zone and your brain says things like:

“What if my friends think I’m stupid?”


“What will my family think?”

While Social Quicksand is absolutely vital to our success as social animals, it can be paralyzing — leaving you stuck in a bog of confusion and mediocrity.

The Dangers of Social Quicksand

Social Quicksand creeps up any time you are faced with a decision that will improve your life, but that might also disappoint your friends or family — even a little bit.

It shows up in tiny things such as losing weight when you've always had a few extra pounds...

... to bigger things such as starting a business when all of your friends have traditional jobs.

While the Quicksand's intentions are good — being that it wants to keep you safe and part of your group — you'll never be able to flourish unless you find the courage to walk on your own steady ground.

Social psychologists have long studied the phenomenon of Social Quicksand, but they refer to it is "social conformity" [1] — a name that doesn't do justice to just how dangerous this phenomenon can actually be to your health and happiness.

Escaping The Social Quicksand

Regardless of what decisions you choose to make, encountering Social Quicksand is part of life that you will have to deal with if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Today's video is about the story of the Social Quicksand I encountered when I was building my first business and how I overcame it.

"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." — Jim Rohn (click to tweet)

How Social Quicksand Shapes Our Lives

To fully understand the dangers of Social Quicksand, it helps to turn to the famous Asch Conformity studies[2] which was done in the 1950s.

In the video below, you'll be able to see Social Quicksand in action, showing how people will drastically change their actions and give up their beliefs just to fit into their social circle.

At first glance, this video is funny, but once you realize just how easily someone can abandon their beliefs in order for them to fit into the crowd, this video can actually be quite terrifying. [3]

The Cure to Social Quicksand

Now that we've talked a ton about the perils of Social Quicksand, let's talk about the easiest way to cure it using a simple perspective shift.

You see, at a biological level, a thought is really just a chemical reaction in the human brain, yet it is astonishing  to see that so many smart people can be stopped in their tracks by the chance that another human might have a thought about them.

Did you get that?

When you are stuck in Social Quicksand, you become worried that another human might have a chemical reaction in their brain about your actions.

I remember the first time this realization hit me. I was stunned at all of the awesome opportunities I had unknowingly passed up in my life simply because I was afraid of someone else's body chemistry.

Don't make the same mistake.

Don't miss out on great opportunities just because of what someone else may be thinking. (click to tweet)

Nick ReeseNick Reese Signature

Reference List:

  1. Wikipedia entry on Social Conformity. ^
  2. Wikipedia entry on the Asch Conformity Studies. ^
  3. For an even scarier video, check out this other Asch Experiment. ^
Photo Credit: electricnerve Published: 2014-01-15