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The bucket of crabs

You all know why you never keep a lid on a bucket of crabs don’t you.


Any fisherman will tell you there is no reason to put a lid on a bucket of crabs, there is no need at all. You don’t need a special bucket to keep the crabs, it doesn’t have to be steep, slippery, just an ordinary bucket will do. You see crabs are self policing, just as one lone crab starts to scale the bucket and get somewhere another crab will pull it back down. You only need two crabs, and none will escape. Often there are 5 or six and you would think they would stand on each others backs and climb out, but no, they don’t do that. As one pincer reaches the top, another pincer will pull it back down. Sometimes they fight amongst themselves, but they still stay in the bucket, which is very handy for the fisherman.


Even if that crab had previously tried to climb out of the bucket and been pulled back, it will settle in and then pull back any other crab that tries to get out.It learns that the correct place for a crab to be is in the bucket. Even if they are about to meet their impending doom at the end of a fishing line, the bucket is best. The bucket is what they know.

Growing up in a family that fished, I spent many hours fascinated by the crabs and asked why they did this, but there was no answer forthcoming for me, my family didn’t know, although one Uncle ventured “because they are stupid” and I thought he was right.

For me, like many others,  I live in a bucket of crabs, they are my family. Every time I do something they wanted to do, should be doing themselves or just plain don’t understand – they work hard to pull me back into the crab bucket. In their eyes for my own good.

I remember when I had finally had enough of my abusive ex husband, to be told after 18 months of marriage and several injunctions taken out against him, to go back to him and make it work. I challenged that, at what point do I say enough is enough? When he kills me? No, came the answer, you haven’t tried to make it work, and my husband has yet to kill me (cue memories of familial violence, but hey, it never killed her, so it was fine). It was the bucket of crabs pulling me back, keeping me safe.

Work life can be a bucket of crabs too, remember that promotion that someone told you to apply for but someone else said you were not good enough for? That’s the crab bucket in action. Some of your best friends are crabs, they are the ones who support you when you try and go for something , then pull you back down quickly instead of pushing you further and challenging you to carry on, to go beyond the first hurdle.

Women are fabulous crabs. Every tried dieting around women thinner than you? Gone round for lunch and found the low carbs you have been chatting about are off the menu? Pizza instead. You clearly belong in the fat bucket and your crab friend is doing you a favour and pulling you back down. Do you really want to get over the rim? Do you want to see the world, the world where you may be the only crab? nah, of course not, get back in that bucket, it’s where you belong.

Whilst this is acceptable behaviour for crabs, it’s not acceptable for people, sadly like the crabs they know no different. They do it not because they are stupid, but because they are fearful.

I have a solution, it came to me whilst chatting about the crab bucket with Elaine, I am not a crab. I am a lobster.

I don’t belong in that bucket. It’s ok to chat to my fellow crustaceans but they are crabs and I am a lobster. So far it’s working. I am seeing a lot less of the crabs and am hanging out in a few cool lobster pots. The lobsters don’t care if I climb out of the pot, you see they know it’s ok to look at your surroundings. It’s how they got in the pot in the first place.

So far it’s working.

What do you do to stop the crabs pulling you back into the bucket?


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Sarah Arrow

Blogging an issue for you? Not getting the subscribers or feedback that you desire? That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach, as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer.
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