There’s a true story about crabs that is quite interesting. If you put a crab in a bucket alone and it’s able to climb out of the bucket and escape, it WILL climb out to free itself. As soon as there are two or more crabs in the bucket, if one tries to climb out and escape, the others will grab it and pull it back in. None of them ends up getting out! It’s the crab mentality.
This story came to mind a few days ago while I was speaking to a client, I’ll call her Mary. When Mary first came to me, she was the head of a marketing department for a big corporation with a high paying salary plus bonuses. Mary loved photography and drawing paintings. Although, she had been doing it for over 10 years on her spare time, she was thinking about starting her own photography business. “When I’m painting or taking photographs I feel I’m the creator of something bigger than me. It’s the time where I feel most alive,” she once told me. “Going to exhibitions twice a year, promoting my work and being approached by people wanting to buy my art makes me feel like I’ve touched them. I end up wanting more of it.”
“Sounds exciting, why aren’t you doing it?” I asked.
“Every time I talk about it to people, they make me realize that it is too risky. I have a really good paying job and I shouldn’t put myself at risk of losing this security. Photography and painting is a tough business to get into. I’ll only end up regretting it if it fails. It worries me.”
Mary didn’t realize that she was like a crab trying to climb out of the bucket and that the people she was going to for support and encouragement were the crabs at the bottom of the bucket, pulling her back in. It’s the
“If I can’t have it, neither can you” mentality.
These people were probably not aware of what they’re doing. Their mindset has been conditioned by things they heard, things they saw and things they experienced that date back to as early as childhood. All these things shape their beliefs and illusions in the way they now live their lives. It’s these beliefs that they hold on to be true make them undermine their own efforts in what they can accomplish and will try to sabotage the efforts of others who want to escape for them.
They measure their level of failure and success in comparison to those around them.
If someone tries to better themselves, they will pull them back down because it will keep them safe. If the person escapes, it will diminish their success.
This was a difficult discovery for Mary. She didn’t want to let go of the people she loved. She needed to accept that she could never change them. They have to want it for themselves. If she wanted a change, she could only make it happen for herself. She needed to separate herself enough from them to move forward and pursue her goal. Once she was able to this, she embraced her own fear within instead of trying to confront it on the outside based on other people’s fear. Her own personal fear was telling her that she was about to do something exciting. The risk was still there but,
she was breaking free from her comfort zone at the bottom of the bucket.
What about you? Have you ever tried to climb out of the bucket? Did you escape? Have you ever been part of the crabs at the bottom of the bucket? How can you be supportive to the crab trying to escape?