The Crabs in a Bucket Effect

Those around you will always try to drag you down when you’re trying to progress

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“She reached down and picked a crab out of a bucket. As it came up it turned out that three more were hanging on to it. “A crab necklace?” giggled Juliet.
“Oh, that’s crabs for you,” said Verity, disentangling the ones who had hitched a ride. “thick as planks, the lot of them. That’s why you can keep them in a bucket without a lid. Any that tries to get out gets pulled back. yes, as thick as planks.”

― Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals

There’s a lot of stories out there that talk about improving your life and the bravery it takes to dare to change your life. Even I have written some of those.

But there’s a topic that is not being covered enough: Your family and friends.

Yes, the people who love you might also try to drag you down. No, they’re not evil. It’s way more complex than that.

The crabs in a bucket effect or “crab mentality” is a part of the human behavior that makes us try to reduce a person’s self-confidence to ensure they don’t succeed.

Take Your Parents for Example

Just when you finished talking about how much did you love acting at school plays they would give you the concerned look, and immediately after they would tell you to forget about it, that acting wouldn’t make you rich.

They would try to shame you into giving up.

And you were just talking about something that made you happy.

But in their minds, they were saving you from becoming poor, they felt that it would be safer for you if they crushed anything you liked. Because the world will always need accountants, right?

There you have them. The first crabs in your barrel.

Their fear of something bad happening to you, for example, poverty, made them want to drag you down. The first ones to release yourself from, and for some of you, the best crabs you’ll encounter in your whole life.

Then You Have Your Friends, or Better Said, Your Acquaintances

Those are the people you hang out with, your squad, you’ll wish the best to some of them.

But beware, some of them won’t wish the best for you.

In the first years of your life it will be difficult for you to realize this, but the number of people to whom you can trust your most inner desires, your hopes and fears is very limited.

And so, many of those will try to persuade you of not being worthy, to give up, some of them may even state that they’re worried about your well-being.

But actually, they’ll be afraid of your success, their egos will get enormously hurt if you succeed and so, they must avoid it at any cost.

And in other cases, they’ll be just true friends that will be genuinely worried, you must keep those close, but not letting them drag you down at the same time.

Those are the second kind of crabs that you’ll encounter in your life.

Later in Life, You’ll Find Your Colleagues

Someday you’ll be working hard somewhere and you’ll make the mistake of letting your colleagues know that you like to draw or something.

They’ll look at you as if you were suddenly from outer space, and they’ll say something like: “Why don’t you do overtime instead?”

As if having a life, a passion out of your working hours was a crime.

And if your boss finds out, which he’ll do because someone will tell him, he’ll likely hate it.

To him, you should live and die for the company, and he won’t tolerate any other behavior.

Those were the third kind of crabs, those who will wish you the worst, but the less dangerous.

The Last Crab is You

You’re holding yourself back too, because you’re afraid to fail, which is natural because you don’t know if you could end cooked up.

But you don’t know that.

You can’t predict the future, but you can follow your guts. And if you feel that you want to change your life, so be it.

Release your fears, you could be afraid of ending in a cooking pot when there’s also a whole ocean out there.

Love your people, but don’t ever let them drag you down.