7 Ways Society Tries to Keep You Small
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Tips - April 12, 2023

7 Ways Society Tries to Keep You Small

Sometimes, you might feel like there’s more to life than what you are currently experiencing or your dreams and aspirations feel so out of reach. The fact is from a young age, we are often taught to conform to several societal norms and expectations which can be limiting and have prevented us from reaching our full potential.

Society often places limits on what one can achieve and tries to keep people in a narrow box of what is deemed acceptable or perceived to be normal.

In this article, we will explore some of the ways society tries to keep individuals small by prioritizing conformity over creativity and individuality and offer strategies to overcome these limitations.

Education system

The education system is one of the primary ways society can try to keep you in a box. The system prioritizes memorization over independent thinking and rewards conformity over innovation rather than creativity and critical thinking.

For instance, while at school, they set us a curriculum which we follow closely and in return stifle our natural curiosity, limit our abilities to think outside the box and prevent us from exploring our passions and interests fully. 

To overcome these limitations, we need to recognize the flaws in the education system and actively resist them. Educators should also introduce prioritizing critical thinking and creativity, which will provide students with the guidance and resources they need to pursue their dreams.


Another way that society keeps individuals small is through the media. Media is a powerful force that limits your potential by promoting unrealistic beauty standards and materialism. 

This is done by using the mainstream media to reinforce traditional gender roles, perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards, and promotes a narrow range of acceptable behaviors and beliefs. This tends to create a feeling of inadequacy and prevent you from embracing your unique qualities and interests.

When people do not see people who look like them or come from similar backgrounds succeeding, they may feel like their own success is out of reach or begin to see impossibilities in themselves.

However, you can overcome this by cultivating media literacy and actively seek out diverse perspectives and representations in the media. This will help you break free  from limiting stereotypes and beliefs and embrace a more authentic and fulfilling life.

Social conditioning

Society can keep you in a box through social conditioning. That is, internalizing societal norms and expectations around gender, sexuality, and relationships, limiting potentials, and shaping your beliefs and behaviors. 

For instance, right from childhood, you are exposed to conforming to specific gender roles, societal norms and expectations which ends up limiting your ability to think creatively and critically. It can also prevent you from fully embracing your unique qualities and pursuing your passions and interests. T

You can overcome these limitations by questioning the societal norms and expectations that have been ingrained in us and actively resist them. This will help to sharpen your  sense of self-awareness and self-confidence and live a fulfilling life.

Political and Economic Systems

Another way society limits our potential is through the political and economic systems. It limits people’s potential through favoring certain groups or classes of people, while limiting access to resources and opportunities for others.

For example, economic systems may create a wide income gap between the rich and poor while the political systems may prioritize the interests of those in power or those with money. This can keep people from achieving their full potential and contribute to feelings of inadequacy and inequality.

The moment you recognize these barriers and work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive society, you can help yourself out of the box.


People are often constrained to fear failure, rejection, and the unknown, which can limit their potential and prevent them from taking risks and pursuing their goals. Fear has been one of the powerful tools to keep people confined in a space.

Fear which is often perpetuated by societal narratives and messages that emphasize the dangers of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone can also create a sense of self-doubt and insecurity, leading us to settle for less than we are capable of. 

However, you must understand that fear is a natural human emotion and that pushing past it can lead to personal growth and success. You must learn to confront your fears and challenge the narratives that perpetuate them.

Lack of role models

The lack of role models contributes to keeping individuals small. Role models serve as examples of what is possible and can inspire us to pursue our goals and aspirations. But, where people do not see people who look like them or come from similar backgrounds succeeding, they may feel like their own success is out of reach.

When there is a lack of diversity and representation in leadership and successful individuals, it can be challenging for people to see themselves in those positions which  can lead to feelings of isolation, thus, limiting their aspirations and expectations for themselves.

The way out is to highlight and amplify diverse role models to inspire and empower you towards reaching your full potential.

Limited access to resources

Limited access to education, healthcare, job opportunities, and other resources can make it difficult for individuals to achieve their full potential or reach personal and professional growth, especially for people from marginalized communities.

For example, individuals from low-income backgrounds may not have the same access to quality education, healthcare or job opportunities as those from wealthier backgrounds. This can create a cycle of disadvantage, making it difficult for individuals to break free from the limitations imposed on them.

However, it is crucial to identify these inequalities and work towards breaking free from them irrespective of the level of inequality the resources are.

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