What is ‘Crab Bucket Mentality’?

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, ‘crab-bucket mentality.’ Even if not, you’ve probably experienced it. This post will answer exactly what it means…

It’s said that if you put a crab in a bucket, it will eventually claw its way out.

However, if you put two or more crabs in the same bucket, something different happens. Whenever one crab starts to pull itself to freedom, the other crabs will grab its legs and pull it down.

Because of this, no crab can escape.

It’s a useful analogy for people in a mutually shitty situation.

When you start to make serious efforts to improve, the people around you easily become uncomfortable with your efforts. Your determination to go further reveals their own inadequacies. If you can improve, so can they. Thus, instead of encouraging you to succeed and thereby damaging their ego, they’ll attempt to pull you down to their level.

You see this all the time, in many different facets of life.

You want to quit drinking? This would make your friends feel like alcoholics, so they’ll pressure you into drinking with them.

You trying to get in shape? This might remind them that obesity is the result of choices and habits, so they’ll belittle or sabotage your efforts.

You trying to improve with women? They’ll call you creepy.

You want to transition to a plant-based diet? They’ll tease you, claim you’re being unreasonable, or question your masculinity.

Basically, anything you do for yourself which might threaten other people’s sense of self worth will trigger a reaction on their part, and they will actively yet unconsciously attempt to hold you back.

This is why unhelpful family and friends are often described as ‘crabs in a bucket’ by those who are serious about reaching their full potential.

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