Have you ever heard of the "crabs in a bucket" mentality, or Crab Mentality for short? Even if the term sounds unfamiliar to you, you may have encountered such a phenomenon at some point in your life.

Interested in finding out more about the Crab Mentality? Read on to find out what it is, how it holds you back, and how you can overcome it!

What is the Crab Mentality?

brown crab near shore

Photo by Alejandro Alas on Unsplash

Did you know that fishermen can leave a bucket of crabs completely unattended, without any of them escaping? It turns out that when one crab tries to escape, the other crabs will pull the escaping crab back into captivity.

Sounds familiar?

Let's apply this to humans and their interactions. When their peers try to "climb out of the bucket" by improving themselves or striving for greater things, people with the Crab Mentality will try to pull them back and prevent them from reaching their goals.

As you can tell, it's incredibly toxic. With the Crab Mentality, no one wins, and no one is able to become better versions of themselves.

Have you encountered the Crab Mentality?

man sitting on rock in front of ocean

Photo by Stefan Spassov on Unsplash

So here's the question: Are you stuck in a bucket? Are you being pulled down by your peers? If you suspect that you may be stuck in a toxic group dynamic, here are some examples of how the Crab Mentality can manifest.

1. Peer-pressure

Many people with the Crab Mentality use peer-pressure to drag their peers down. For example, you're trying to lose weight or start a healthy diet, but your friends peer-pressure you into eating unhealthily and cause you to break away from your fitness goals.

2. Downplaying your achievements

When you accomplish something that you're proud of, do your peers downplay your achievements? For example, when you get a promotion or a pay-raise due to your hard work, do your peers imply that it was "just luck" or diminish the effort you put in? If so, you might be stuck in a crab bucket.

3. Actively sabotaging you

Perhaps the most obvious symptom of the crab mentality and the unhealthiest, these peers actively try to sabotage your efforts to achieve greater things. This may involve spreading malicious rumors about you behind your back, sabotaging or withholding opportunities.

4. Discouraging you

We often go to our friends and co-workers for advice when we're in a dilemma or when we need encouragement to achieve something greater. However, your peers may try to discourage you by telling you, for example, that a goal of yours is impossible to achieve, and that you should give up on it.

6 ways to overcome the Crab Mentality

persons right foot on white wall

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

If you find yourself experiencing any of the above on a regular basis from your peers, it might just be time to recognize and acknowledge that your peers may not be the best for you. You deserve better, so here are some ways you can escape from the bucket and become the best version of yourself!

1. Trust your instincts

No one wants to think the worst of their friends or family members, and we often talk ourselves out of a gut feeling. However, it's important to pause and consider -- is there some truth to this feeling?

If you've been feeling uneasy around a friend, or if you've been reluctant to share your successes, then it's time to question and reflect on these feelings. Identifying the crab mentality is the first step to escaping from the bucket!

2. Expand your social circle

Often, people are sorted into their "buckets" simply due to circumstance, proximity and convenience. For example, when the crabs in your life may be your family members or co-workers, it's not easy (or even possible) to just cut ties in a short period of time.

In those cases, consider expanding your social circle. Put less time and energy in your toxic relationships and instead find friends in other places that will boost and support you instead of tearing you down.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, its now easier than ever to find others with similar interests to befriend. Alternatively, consider going to classes (yoga, spin, baking) and make friends there! Over time, you'll find that you'll no longer need to rely on your toxic peers.

3. Stay focused on your goals

As mentioned earlier, not everyone has the luxury of cutting out the crabs in their life. But that doesn't mean that you should let them keep tearing you down! Instead, stay focused on your goals by starting a habit tracker. The key is to keep yourself on top of things and to make sure that you're not easily swayed from your goals by the Crab Mentality.

Tracking your habits is especially useful when it comes to fitness goals! Keeping a record of how much and how consistently you've worked out can motivate you to keep going.

You may also want to consider creating a vision board as well! This is another way for you to stay focused on your goals and remain motivated despite the crabs in your life.

4. Release your worries by journaling

person writing on a book

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

Being surrounded by the Crab Mentality can be exhausting and damaging to your mental wellbeing. After all, it's hard not to internalize all the discouragement from your peers. Many people end up with lower self-esteem and self-confidence, and may be reluctant to reach for their dreams.

But you don't have to bear all that toxicity on your own! Instead, take their negative energy and vent it all in a journal. Venting your worries into a journal can really take your mind off things and gives you the mental space to reflect on yourself.

Consider downloading a digital journal app like Journey so that you can vent your worries and frustrations wherever you please! All you have to do is create an account on the web app, or download the application and sign up. Then, click the + button on the bottom right to create a new entry, and start writing!

Journey's cloud sync feature also allows you to make journal entries across multiple devices, so there's truly no limit to when or where you can journal.  

Journey's cloud sync feature across mobile, iPad and web app

And if you're worried on someone stumbling onto your most private thoughts, worry not. Journey has a secure system and allows you to protect your journal entries with passwords as well as biometric security on iPhone and Android.  

Journey's passcode and Apple Touch ID security feature
Journey's passcode and Apple Touch ID security feature

5. Self-reflect: Are you the crab?

While we may be the crab that's being dragged down, we may also inadvertently practice the Crab Mentality ourselves. That is why it's important to self-reflect and identify if you're also dragging your peers down.

Once again, consider journaling to help with your self-reflection. Journaling allows you to step back to reflect on the day, on your actions, and on how you're feeling. This helps you become more in-touch with yourself, and also more self-aware.

Do you feel jealous when your friends are succeeding? Do you notice yourself making the same passive-aggressive actions to drag your friends down?

If you've identified these behaviors of yours, it's not too late! Acknowledgement, after all, is the first step to change. After you've acknowledged this, it's time to make steps to address and change your behavior.

Don't let yourself stay trapped in the Crab Mentality! You're deserving and capable of so much, so don't let the crabs hold yourself back from reaching your full potential.