When you escape the bucket, be prepared for crabs

“Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it.”Diane Sawyer

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”Janis Joplin

It’s funny. I’ve known several young, hip, unmarried, child-free people who have left West Michigan recently in pursuit of new adventures, new opportunities, a real arts, culture and music scene – even just a change of pace or because they could not find a decent job to support themselves and wanted to pursue their dreams. Trust me, I had planned to follow suit two and a half years ago … But, as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

Oddly, they have been bashed and “hated on” for having the guts to pack up and start a new life in a new place, which, anyone who has done it knows is no small feat, and speaking the truth about Michigan’s economy, Muskegon’s crime and a pervasive mindset of accepting the status quo. Could these people be jealous? Insecure? Have an inferiority complex or feeling a little regretful they have spent their entire life in the same place? Perhaps they have struck a nerve, or, to recite a cliché saying: “Sometimes, the truth hurts.” Plus, why do they care so much about what some other person chooses to do with their life? As an outsider, but someone who has lived in West Michigan for more than eight years, I feel qualified to offer my “outsider’s perspective” on this area. But that is for another post.

This is for all the people who seem to be struggling with change, or feeling push back from friends and family for charting their own course, or for those who want to live with more purpose and passion. People get tired of all my “deep thoughts,” but I feel one of my purposes in life is to serve as a messenger and use writing to help people live more deliberately and consciously. Whether it’s with money, relationships or career choices, it seems far too many people live on autopilot and just go through the motions – or make rash decisions – without carefully considering the ramifications or long-term consequences. The other half are frozen with fear and choose complacency over stepping out into the unknown.


There is this theory called Crabs in a Bucket that really changed my view of “haters” and how to handle them. In short, if crabs are put in a bucket and one tries to escape, the other crabs will pull it back down. Applied to life, it means that most of the people you know, including family and friends, will be supportive to an extent, but they don’t want you to get too far ahead or find too much success or happiness. Perhaps it’s envy, or their own fear, or their own unhappiness.

Here are a couple of good blogs about it:
Rita Perea
Crab Mentality

The rest of this post goes back to a prior post I wrote last spring. To read it, Click here

Dr. Phil explains his process and passion for writing “Life Code” in the introduction. He started by creating a sheet for every single jerk he had encountered in his own life – people who had sought to hurt, betray and take advantage of him and his family – and identified commonalities and patterns. Lying, “grooming” behaviors and manipulation made the short list. He also did the same thing for people who he admires. They have succeeded, overcome, conquered, and contributed to this world despite coming under attack by people who wanted to destroy them. Just like the formula for spotting the “bad guys” is knowable, the formula for success for the “good guys” is knowable. Success is created, and once obtained, must be managed and protected, he says.


Dr. Phil realized that to “win in the real world, these people I studied became ‘street smart’ and didn’t take any ‘wooden nickels.’ They didn’t sell out their integrity, they didn’t settle for what they didn’t want, and they played to win.” Here’s his Sweet 16 Success Tips for turning your life around:

1. Have a defined image of your character.
2. Create a perception of uniqueness.
3. Play big, not just long.
4. Learn to claim and accept praise, and acknowledge it in a gracious way.
5. Become “essential.”
6. Know your real currency.
7. Always have a plan.
8. Keep things “close to the vest.”
9. Always be investigative.
10. Stretch your way to success, even if it feels like you’re “faking it until you make it.”
11. Always keep your options open.
12. Master the system and figure out a way to make it work for you.
13. Create a passionate nucleus of supporters.
14. Deal only with the truth.
15. Recognize and use the ego and greed of others to create a path to success.
16. Pick your battles and never let your opponent have control.


“The difference between winners and losers is winners do things losers don’t want to do,” Dr. Phil says. “You’ve got to stop whining and start doing.”

In this economy and job market – not to mention this Facebook-infused world where people tag themselves at the airport and brag about their new job, their great relationship, their awesome vacation plans – it’s easy to be competitive, jealous or feel like you are somehow losing at the game of life. In many cases, it’s an attempt to present a phony façade to the world and make their life look better than it really is.

People will always want what you have, and vice versa. Perhaps they are living in a big lake house while you are eating Ramen noodles in a studio apartment. But maybe you have managed to maintain your weight through a lot of hard work, exercise, self-discipline, and eating healthy, while they cannot seem to find the will or the way. You might think they have the perfect job, while they are envious that you have freedom, flexibility and are brave enough to go after your dreams rather than be stuck working for the man. They might broadcast their great vacations, while leaving out it’s on credit. And they might be jealous that you get to go boating every weekend in the summer. It might appear someone else has a great relationship when they brag about the lavish gifts they receive from their spouse or partner, but it might be to make up for an affair or because they hang out at the bar or travel a lot, while you have the things that really matter – a partner who makes you laugh, accepts you for who you are, and comes home to you every night.

Rather than feel threatened by someone’s success, remember there is enough to go around. Count your blessings. Open your heart to abundance. Ask for like-minded souls to come into your life. Stop assuming the worst. Don’t take things so personally. Think positive. Smile and say hello to strangers. If you hear of a friend landing a good job, getting married, or otherwise accomplishing or doing something you want, feel the envy, let it pass, and then wish them well. Because we all know they will need it.


There will always be naysayers and haters. Sometimes you just have to put blinders on. Stand tall. Be proud. Trust yourself and keep doing your thing. Stay focused on your dreams, desires and goals. And give people the boot who try to deter you from reaching for the stars.


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