• Gemz

Is the Crabs in a Bucket Phenomenon Holding You Back? - Read this !!!

OK so you just got a promotion at work, you are super excited and really proud of yourself you’ve really grafted your ass off to get here! Your colleagues on the other hand, don't seem to be so proud of you. They might even come across as bitter or dare I say, nasty?


Have you ever been in a situation where you are really happy about something but find that the people around you are making it seem less important?


Or do you often feel excited about working up the motivation to make a positive change, only to have your “friends” dismiss it as being unimportant? Or laugh at you because you are ‘so weird’.



We would all like to believe that the people around us want the best for us and want to see us succeed but there will be times when you’ll come across a phenomenon known as the “crabs in a bucket” mentality (or just the “crab” mentality).


In todays blog, I want to explore the concept of the crab mentality and why it’s important to surround yourself with the right people if you want to live a positive life and achieve growth in your life.

What Is the Crab Mentality?


If you put one crab in a bucket, it will claw its way up and out and return to the ocean. Something interesting happens if you put a bunch of crabs in a bucket. If one of them tries to climb out, the rest pull it back into the bucket. Insane right?


If the crab tries to climb out again, the other crabs gang up on the crab and some actually try to break its claws to completely stop it escaping. This means that none of the crabs end up escaping because they are all working against each other.






Sadly, we often see this type of behaviour amongst humans. The crab mentality is a metaphor for how humans respond when they see someone else around them achieving some kind of self-improvement that they can't achieve themselves.


You have heard of the phrase; “If I can’t have it, neither can you” ? Well this is the best way I can describe the “crabs in a bucket” mentality.


Obviously your friends, family and colleagues may not physically try to break each other down like the crabs do (at least I hope not!!) But some will try to break other people's spirits when they see someone they know on the way to success.


When people with crab mentality see others around them advancing, they subconsciously (or even consciously) reach out to hold them back.


They do what they can to prevent them succeeding and may even try to stop people from trying to succeed by putting them down or embarrassing them.


People with the crab mentality have insecurities about themselves and when they see other people improve, assume that they are failing because other people are succeeding.


The phrase “misery loves company” springs to mind. It is a proverb that suggests that people who are unhappy can handle their own problems better if those around them are unhappy too.





This phrase is typically used when toxic people give grief to someone else (we have all been there right?)

People who are unhappy want those around them to be unhappy as well. So, when they see people they know getting ahead, they want to pull them back to their level.


Real-Life Examples of “Crabs in a Bucket”


1. Physical Health


An example of this is when you want to lose weight, but “crabs” persuade you that you look “fine” and that it’s all right to indulge. This may come from friends trying to get you to eat a takeout or have a cocktail, all seemingly innocent but not always!!




2. Financial Health

This might be when you’re trying to save up for something but “crabs” invite you to expensive places and try to make you feel bad if you say no. Crabs also try to make you feel bad for bringing your own lunch to work!!


3. Professional Success

A good example here is when you get a well-deserved promotion, but “crabs” pull you down by suggesting you had an unfair advantage, like being friends with management. The other ‘crabs’ may feed off of each other to try to tear you down.


4. Transitory Success

This might be when you’re working on escaping the 9-5 grind but the “crabs” in the office try to stop you by either belittling your plans or making it more difficult for you to transition.


5. Social Health

An example here is when “crabs” spread nasty rumours about you or other people. “Crabs” prefer to break other people rather down instead of talking about ideas and solutions to problems.


When people with crab mentality see others around them advancing, they subconsciously (or even consciously) reach out to hold them back. 

How to Overcome the Crab Mentality and Succeed


Whether you realise it or not, human thought processes, behaviours, and decision-making processes are influenced by our peers, particularly the ones with which we spend the greatest amount of time. This means that if you are always around people who make poor life decisions and you are aiming to improve, you are at risk of being pulled down.


But if you are able to build a different type of network—one that emphasizes self-improvement—you will be more likely to achieve the success that you are seeking.

Here are a few ways to surround yourself with people who will help facilitate your improvements and empower you to be a better version of yourself:





1. Join a group.

Identify an area of your life that you want to improve, and find a group to help you do so. These groups are comprised of like-minded people who come together for a common goal. The idea is that when the efforts of several people are combined, the overall amount of mental power equates to more than the sum of its parts.


2. Work with an accountability partner.

This partnership is a mutually agreed upon relationship to coach each other