It’s a strange but true fact that if you put one crab in a bucket it can claw its way up the side and escape. However, if you have a number of crabs in the bucket they will work together to stop any crabs escaping by pulling them back down. This is known as “Crab Mentality”.
Understanding this behaviour in humans
We see this behaviour in humans too which can manifest itself as “if I can’t have it then you can’t either”. It can be hard to deal with when it comes from strangers and colleagues and it can be really difficult to deal with when it comes from friends and family. It can lead us to feel alone, frustrated, full of self-doubt and for those “people pleasers” amongst us it means we can often give up on our goals.
We can also sometimes find ourselves guilty of being one of the crabs pulling others down. If you have ever found yourself talking to someone about a colleague’s success and saying things like “they only got that promotion because they are friends with the MD” or “they don’t deserve that award because they didn’t really do much” then you are displaying the behaviours of the crabs in the bucket. We very rarely know all of the facts relating to someone else’s life and so we are making judgements and drawing conclusions based on our beliefs.
For example, you may have a belief that you can’t get an award unless you are perfect, which may mean that you are holding yourself to impossible standards. This belief is likely to be impacting your self-esteem and making it harder for you to achieve your goals.
Choose to lift others instead
There is a great quote from Robert Ingersoll “We rise by lifting others”. This is the exact opposite of the crab mentality approach. By lifting others, virtually all the crabs in the bucket could escape. If you celebrate with the person who was given the award and are genuinely happy for them – you will both feel better about yourselves. This is likely to increase your self-esteem and therefore increase your ability to achieve your goals.
Think about your thoughts and actions relating to others today. Are you a crab or are you lifting others? If you are a crab what are you also saying to yourself that is not lifting yourself?
Strategies to avoid the crab mentality
If you do find yourself on the receiving end of crab mentality here are some tips to help you keep moving forward with your own goals:
1 – Be clear on your own goal and your “why”. Be clear you are doing it for your own fulfilment.
2 – Be optimistic – believe in your own ability to be successful
3 – Be relentless with your progress – keep moving forward
4 – Don’t be a crab yourself. Model the behaviour you would like to see in others.
5 – Embrace failure. It will happen. When it does don’t throw yourself back into the bucket. Learn from it and keep climbing.
6 – Build a good support network of people who will help you. Move away from those who aren’t.
7 – Know when to rest, gather your energy and then start climbing again.
It’s your life and it’s your dream. You deserve it. If you believe you can get it, then you can.
If you would like some help with understanding and achieving your goals then coaching can help. Please contact me here for an initial free session to see how I can help you.