You’re a crab in a bucket. You’re trying to climb out, but your fellow crabs are pulling you back down. If they can’t escape, why should you? Why should you experience success if no one else has? Stop letting these crabs pull you down. Stop letting them keep you from true happiness and success. In this article, you will learn how to escape these crabs for good and how to deal with your own crab bucket mentality.
“If someone tries to pull you down, it only means you are above them.”
What is Crab Bucket Mentality?
The term crab bucket mentality is often used to describe the way crabs act towards one another in a bucket or barrel. If one crab is in the bucket, then it can easily climb out to freedom. If more than one crab is in the bucket, however, no crab will ever make it out.
This is because as each crab climbs up, the others will reach up and pull it back down.
Many individuals, groups, and even whole cultures display this type of crab bucket mentality. This mentality says, “You must act this way,” or “You can’t do it if we can’t do it,” or “What makes you so special?”
We have all experienced this crab mentality in some way. Whether from our family, friends, co-workers, or in our own minds, crabs are all around us.
Why The Crab Bucket Mentality Exists
In nature, crabs do not “pull other crabs down” because they want to limit each other’s success. Instead, it is simply a survival technique to keep them together in groups. In humans, however, it is a different story.
There are many reasons why crab mentality exists in humans including:
Jealousy is a big reason why people have a crabs in the bucket mentality. Those who are jealous feel worse about themselves when others succeed. To prevent feeling this way, they do what they can to pull others down. How often have you experienced someone downplaying or even criticizing your success for no apparent reason? It happens with our love life when we get engaged, it happens when we get a promotion, it happens whenever something good happens. Jealousy fuels the fire for crab in a bucket mentality for many people.
Crab bucket mentality may stem from low self-esteem. Those with self-esteem issues may feel they do not deserve success. So they pull themselves down with their thoughts and words. Such as, “I can’t do that,” or “I’m not talented enough,” or maybe, “I don’t deserve better.”
Low self-esteem also fuels jealousy for others when they find success. Which, as you’ve just read above, is a catalyst for a crab in bucket mentality.
Generational and Organizational Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs have a way of hooking its claws into whole families, cultures, and groups. For example, families will hold on to a limiting belief for generations and indoctrinate every family member. “Our family will never escape alcoholism.” “No one in our family will ever finish college,” or “This town is where our family belongs.”
Likewise, in many companies and organizations, you may hear things like, “You can’t get a promotion unless you work for 20 years,” “Only high-level management ideas matter,” or “Stay under the radar unless you want to get fired.”
These limiting beliefs and crab bucket mentality are passed on and on to promote conformity and consistency. Breaking the mold usually means being ostracized or outcast in some way.
Our fear affects us individually and others through extension. For example, a mom may fear her daughter going to college in another state so she sabotages her daughter’s opportunity. Or you may fear drifting apart from your spouse so you discourage them from seeking close friendships. Fear is a powerful factor in the crabs in a bucket mentality.
Overcoming Your Own Crab Bucket Mentality
Not only do we have to overcome others keeping us down and sabotaging our efforts but we have to overcome ourselves as well. Here are some strategies to overcome your own crab bucket mentality.
Have Big Goals For Yourself
Goals are what drive us forward, they keep us going when everything seems like it’s against us. They give our lives meaning and purpose and without them we would have no hope at all of achieving anything worthwhile.
Our goals have to be big, however. They have to be big enough to energize and motivate us to escape the crab bucket. Keep them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based, but also big enough to keep your fire burning.
Change Your Vocabulary
The things you say to yourself have a major influence on your crabs in a bucket mentality. Instead of saying, “I can’t do it”, or even “They can’t do it,” say, “I can do it,” and “They can do it.” Adopt a more positive and encouraging vocabulary for yourself and others.
Focus on Personal Growth
When we are in our own crab bucket, it’s hard seeing past the walls. It’s hard seeing anything better for ourselves. To overcome this, it is important that you continually focus on personal growth.
Focusing on personal growth allows you to see your potential. It allows you to aim for something better and to become a better person. Start reading personal development books, listen to self-help podcasts, or read blogs dedicated to helping people improve their lives. Do something daily to focus on personal growth.
Find Inspiration in Others
There are plenty of success stories out there despite what you or others may have you believe. Many have taken a risk and went for it all and succeeded! Find these examples and draw inspiration from them. If they can do it, you can do it.
Your crab bucket mentality not only will hold you back and pull you down, but will pull others down as well. Release your grip and negativity on those who are trying to succeed. Instead of spouting 101 reasons why they should stay right here in the bucket, encourage them to get out. Offer your support and kind words.
Challenge Your Limiting Beliefs
What beliefs have been instilled in you from your family, peers, or experiences that are holding you back? Whatever they are, challenge them. Instead of believing them to be true, find fault in them. When have you ever overcome a limiting belief? When have you seen someone else overcome your limiting belief? Stop letting your limiting beliefs prevent you from breaking free of your crab bucket mentality.
Escaping Others With Crab Bucket Mentality
Are you ready to get out of the bucket? Are you ready to stop letting other’s crab bucket mentality stop you from achieving your goals or dreams? Here are some ways to overcome them.
See the Situation for What It Is
You know now that there are reasons for people pulling you down. What is their reason for keeping you down? Is it fear, is it jealousy, is lack of self-esteem? Once you step back and look at what is happening and possibly why it’s happening, it loosens their crabby claws on you.
There were plenty of people in my life that said things to discourage me from following my dreams. At the time, all I could see were their arguments. I focused on WHAT they were saying instead of focusing on them and their possible motives. Once I did this, their grip on me was lost.
Who in your life is holding you back? Instead of focusing on what they are saying or defending your actions, goals, and dreams, focus on them and their crab bucket mentality reasons.
Challenge The Running Narrative
Whatever others are telling you to keep you down, challenge it? If they say, “It’s going to be hard moving to another city,” tell them, “No it won’t, everything will work out okay.” When they tell you, “That turned out terrible for your sister,” you say, “It’ll be perfect for me.” If they say, “Our family has never had any luck in school,” you say, “I’m going to do great in school.”
Whatever narrative you’ve been hearing in your head or from others, challenge it. Do not accept it.
Sometimes we need to set boundaries for the crabs in our lives. If people are constantly putting you down and discouraging you, it’s time for some healthy boundaries.
Maybe you need to tell them their discouraging thoughts and words are hindering your progress and it needs to stop. Maybe it’s necessary to limit the time you spend with them. Possibly even cut them out for good. It may sound harsh but sometimes we have to put ourselves first to get out of the crab bucket.
Learn to Stand Up for Yourself
Often standing up for yourself is all you need to do to stop others’ crab bucket mentality. Do not accept other people’s negative remarks and discouraging words in regards to your goals and dreams. Be confident and remind yourself that you deserve respect.
Exploit Your Strengths and Talents
People often stay with the crabs in the bucket because they do not believe in themselves or believe in their abilities. No one else around them is talented or has strengths that stand out so why should you, right? Wrong. Everyone has strengths and talents and in order to escape the crab bucket mentality, you need a constant reminder of that.
First, find what your strengths are. Make a list of things that are awesome about being you. Next, exploit your strengths and talents as much as you can. Find ways to use them. The more you use them the more confident you will become, the more you will believe in yourself, and the better you are able to escape the crab bucket mentality. Our Self Esteem & Confidence Workbook is an excellent resource to help you discover and use your strengths.
Escaping the crab bucket mentality is important for your success and happiness. there are many reasons why people want to hold you back but you must overcome their efforts. See the situation for what it is, challenge the running narrative, set boundaries, learn to stand up for yourself, and exploit your strengths and talents.
How have crabs held you back? Let me know in the comments.