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  • Beware of Crabs!

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    By now you may have heard the phrase "Crabs in a bucket." This metaphor, attributed to Ninotchka Rosca, is an  Anthropomorphism of the behavior of crabs when two or more are in a bucket . If a single crab is put in a bucket it easily climbs out. But if you put another crab in the bucket, both crabs will attempt to climb over the other in their escape attempt and each crab endlessly pulls the other back into the bucket. Adding more crabs doesn't make the situation any better because no matter how close to the top of the bucket a crab gets, the other crabs are all pulling on it trying to get out themselves. Each crab is looking for a claw-hold that will help them escape.
     

     
    Although there are many reasons we might put into the mind of the crab to explain their individual motivation, the most popular being "If I can't have it, neither can you," I want to draw your attention to something nefarious that lurks within that bucket.
     
    I think we can all agree that at one point in our lives we've felt like someone else was pulling us down, holding us back from being our full selves. We have an idea and when we share it other people aren't as excited as we are about it. Or we tell others that we are going somewhere in life only to have them emotionally berate us for leaving them behind. Or we feel the subtle resentment that so often purveys the lives of those who would make the world a better place.
     
    We don't really know why crabs pull each other down. When I've watched crabs in a bucket, it's simply clear that each crab is trying to get out. The crab grabs anything that's available to assist in its escape seemingly without regard or consideration that it is not making any progress when it pulls another crab back into the bucket. All of the crabs end up stuck in the bucket and none of them escapes. They spend all their energy not making a single difference in the life of any other crab. Clamoring to get out of the bucket at all costs is wired into the crab's brain and no amount of reasoning will get any one of the crabs to change what it does to the people... er... crabs around it.
     
    And this brings me to my take on "Crabs in a Bucket." When you feel like other people are pulling you down and holding you back, you may be tempted to see yourself as a crab falling victim to the idea that those around you are keeping you from becoming all you can be. Problem is that you're not actually a crab, you're not in a bucket, and people are not physically holding you back from achieving your dreams.
     
    When we blame others for our plight, we create a psychological block that prevents us from actually seeing that those pulls are simply other people wanting what we're going to achieve. Because of the way they're wired, they emotionally pull on us for whatever reason they might come up with. The subtlety here is that their reason is completely irrelevant.
     
    While the crabs may have been playing a "jealousy" game, it's simply not possible that the crab being pulled back into the bucket even cares about the feelings of the other crabs. This is the sneaky part that gets under our skin and prevents us from advancing in life: We BLAME the others instead of recognizing that we're not ACTUALLY being held back. We ALLOW ourselves to be manipulated and controlled by others because we see ourselves as a crab-victim.
     
    The simple truth is that you are neither a crab nor a victim. You have the ability to be someone that others can grab on to in their attempt to improve their own lives. Every time someone pulls on you it is your duty to move forward in your dream. Everyone is counting on you to be stronger than they are, and they only know how strong you are if you keep moving forward yourself regardless of how many others are clamped on.
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