From the desk of Harsh Strongman
Subj: The Crab Bucket Mentality
The Crabs in a Bucket Story
When you put a single crab in a bucket, that crab can easily crawl up and escape.
However, when you put a lot of crabs in the same bucket, the crabs cannot escape anymore.
Whenever one of them tries to escape, the others catch him and pull him down.
If I can’t have it, neither can you.
You don’t even have to lid a bucket full of crabs, because even though each one possesses the ability to escape, the other crabs never let anyone escape. They all just immobilize each other.
The entire group stays in the bucket and meets their demise, even though each individual crab could have escaped their fate had they been alone in that very bucket.
Humans in a Bucket
It’s remarkable how similar humans in their social groups are to crabs in their buckets.
Humans will use social and peer pressure to hold each other down to prevent others from rising above them – if I can’t have it, neither can you.
This crabs in a bucket mentality is a part of human nature, and it’s especially visible among the masses and the regular average people of the world.
When people talk about “haters”, this mentality is what they’re talking about.
Sabotagers who try to prevent you from getting ahead out of jealousy, envy, resentment, spite, and even competitiveness.
Of course, it’s not as brazen as someone physically preventing you from accomplishing things, but they use social pressure to try and accomplish the same goals – to prevent anyone from making too much progress.
For example, when someone’s trying to get rid of a bad habit – say they’re trying to quit drinking, many of their “friends” will try to get them to drink.
“At least taste it.”
“Just one drink, bro.”
“I thought you were cool man, don’t be like this. Have a sip.”
They know you’re trying to quit. They know why you’re trying to quit.
They have a vested interest in getting you to stay where you are because no one likes to see someone below them rise above them.
The same thing happens when you try to do anything that raises your value significantly as a person.
When you try to start a business, you’ll have all sorts of people tell you that business is risky and jobs are safe and that you should stick to working a well paying job. Crabs in a bucket will try to keep you in the bucket with them.
Don’t get me wrong – you should be open to criticism and new ideas, especially from people who have experience in the field you’re venturing into.
However, anyone who says “never start a business because all business is risky” is either an idiot or an imbecile trying to slow you down.
Any activity or venture you do that will improve your long term trajectory will attract all sorts of crabs telling you why what you’re doing will not work and why you shouldn’t do it.
And the way you know these people are not well meaning people who care about you but just crabs is that they will not give you legitimate rational reasoning for why you should or shouldn’t do something – they will try to use social pressure to get you to conform with what they want.
Don’t drink? Fuck you. We don’t hang out with “uncool” people like you.
Reading books? Fuck you. We don’t hang out with “boring” nerds like you.
Don’t eat processed food? Fuck you. We don’t hang out with lame health freaks like you.
They will never give you rational reasons why you should continue drinking, stop reading books, or eat more processed foods.
They will call you uncool, boring, lame, nerdy, or what have you to socially pressure you into doing what they want you to do.
The Psychology Behind the Human Crabs
These saboteurs are afraid that if you succeed – your business works, you lose the weight, or you stop drinking – you’re going to be a much higher value person than them, and for the rest of their life they’ll have to live with the reality that they could have done it too had they not wasted their time on the nonsense.
They are used to perceiving you as someone who has lower or similar social value as them, and the threat of you rising above them reminds them of their own shortcomings.
Usually, these people have given up on their lives and their situations; they’ve convinced themselves that it’s not them, it’s everyone else, and you improving yourself shakes the loose foundation their fake confidence and self-esteem is built upon.
When you put in the work and the time and they see you move ahead, it reminds these haters that they’re not failures because the world is against them; they’re failures because they chose to be failures.
It reminds them that they’re not doing well because of their own laziness, talentless-ness, prolonged procrastination, and a general unwillingness to take risks.
And this realization really pisses them off.
So they try to ensure that you don’t get ahead. They try to sabotage your progress.
It makes them feel better and more secure about their own place in the world.
As the old adage goes, people don’t want to be rich, they just want to be richer than their neighbors.
Crabs in a Bucket Examples and Tactics
They’ll try to bring your self-confidence down by attacking you psychologically.
- She’s out of your league, don’t try.
- You’re not smart enough to teach yourself coding.
They’ll tell you it won’t work out.
- Business is too risky.
- All the people who go to the gym become fat when they stop.
- You can’t do podcasts, your voice sucks.
- You’re not good looking enough to be in the entertainment industry.
They’ll tell you that you’re wasting your time.
- Being a content creator is too saturated, you’ll never get any traction.
- Do you know how many startups fail each year? Why do you think your idea is any different?
They’ll tell you that you’re okay just the way you are.
- Why do you need the gym? You look good already.
- I like [personality flaw]. You don’t need to correct [personality flaw].
They’ll give you bad “advice” designed to make you fail.
- “Fuck exercise and fuck society for telling you what you should look like, you’re just fine the way you are.”
- “Start the business with credit card debt!”
- “Get a Job. Businesses fail all the time. Jobs are safe.”
They’ll tell you that you’re not good enough. They’ll “criticize” your work.
They’ll withhold praise where praise is due.
They’ll belittle your accomplishments.
They’ll belittle YOU as a person.
And 99% of the times, they win.
I’ve seen people who were on the path of losing weight and becoming fit get obese again because their friends manipulated them into eating garbage food again.
“So you’re drinking fruit juices now? Are you sure you’re getting enough protein?” –> This is a fake question implying that your diet isn’t healthy. Meanwhile, their primary source of protein is McFriedCheeseOilCoatedGreasyExtraSauceNugget.
Who are these Saboteurs?
Here’s the kicker, these sabotagers are not random people on the street, they are often the people who are closest to you.
They can be your best friend, your “urban tribe”, your coworkers, and even your family.
Often, those closest to you are your worst enemies.
It sounds absurd, but it’s true.
Think back to the time when you received a backhanded compliment to your personal growth and progress, or a question designed to slow you down – it likely came from someone you know, someone close to you.
If you’re in a more brazen group of crabs, you have probably faced active bullying and peer pressure.
This is especially true if you’re a woman. Women face extreme versions of peer pressure to fit in with the norm from their circles.
You will be a social outcast if you engage in activities that the group does not agree with.
I’ve tweeted this before, I have lost more friends to personal growth and progress than to any number of fights and arguments that I’ve had.
The quickest way to lose friends and alienate people is to improve yourself.
And there’s nothing you can do to change this reaction people will have. It’s a part of human nature.
How Do You Deal With the Crabs?
Outside of getting better friends, one way to handle this mentality is to not tell people what you’re up to.
People don’t need to know you’ve been trying to start an online business.
People don’t need to know you’re learning to code.
People don’t need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing – it’s none of their business.
The more you broadcast your actions, the more you are vulnerable to sabotagers.
There’s a reason why lots of rich people practice stealth wealth – it just doesn’t make sense exposing yourself unless you’re going to get something out of it.
(Another reason to not tell people your plans is that when you talk about what you’re going to be doing – your brain releases a lot of dopamine.
You get the neurological rewards that are so similar to the ones you’d get after you would have achieved what you were setting out to do, that it makes it unlikely that you would actually do it.
This is also why some people love talking about success and never venture out to get any success.)
If you must tell people, tell them after you’ve already accomplished what you were trying to do.
When you get ahead – people WILL be pissed.
People WILL target your insecurities to slow you down.
People WILL try to “show you your place”.
And you WILL doubt your actions.
You WILL wonder if things are worth it.
You WILL want to “fall in line”.
And 99% of people will fall in line.
Peer pressure is hardwired into our brains.
Humans have evolved to live in tribes.
Peer pressure evolved as a safety mechanism, where people who left the tribe and ventured out on their own were much less likely to survive on their own.
Your chances of survival by sticking to the tribe were much higher than by being a lone wolf.
Modern day, peer pressure or the need for conformity is just a hindrance that keeps the people mediocre and watching meaningless sitcoms like Friends.
But you must still do it.
You HAVE to be the crab that escapes.
You HAVE to rise from the herd, both mentally and physically.
How do I escape the crab bucket of sabotagers?
They’re using social pressure to hold you down. Their methods only work if you care enough – so don’t care enough.
If you are faced with active sabotagers – where they really try to pressure you into falling in line – CUT THEM OFF.
You’re not losing a friend; you’re losing a traitor.
You’re net ahead.
If you’re faced with a situation where you might become a social outcast – so be it.
As the old saying from the Mahabharata goes, when you are shown the door, take the door.
I’d rather have no friends than have friends who hold me back.
The crabs will want to be you just as much as they hate you for being you.
In a few years of making the right decisions, you’ll be too far to be caught.
Remember, these are the same people who’re going to come to you asking for help 5 years down the line.
These are the same people who’ll tell you years later that “I always knew you’d make it”.
The same people who tried to sabotage your startup idea will ask you for a job.
But you have to prevail.
If you give in to the peer pressure, guilt-tripping, and fear-mongering, none of this will happen.
You’ll just be another crab in the bucket.
Don’t be the Crab For Others
And of course, you have to not act like crab too.
If you see someone trying to improve themselves, offer real encouragement and compliments.
Offer your advice and guidance, and be encouraging.
If you want to be the man, you need to act like the man.
You can either act like a crab – pull in others and stay in – or you can be the man who gets out and pulls others out.
Venture out, and venture forth – and I’ll end this with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.“
Best of luck.