Shake off That Crab That’s Pulling You Back into Barrel!

In Stress Management, Supportby admin

Surround yourself only with people lift you up!

I’ve lived in Hawaii for more than nine years, and I’ve traveled to Europe, the Middle East as well as around the U.S.  I really love talking to people of other backgrounds and cultures, having new experiences and tasting yummy new food!  Among the many things I’ve learned across cultures and countries is how similar we are when it comes to our desire to learn, change and expand ourselves.  In so many people there’s a flaming passion to transform lives for the better: we want to improve our communities, help our families to thrive and aid the less fortunate. We want to take the spark of an idea, add fuel to it and make the flame grow bright.  We can be FABULOUS when we put our minds to it.  And we don’t want to be limited by anything or anyone.

Of course, we face challenges  — money, time, resources, limited access to continuing education, the right infrastructure and more.  But the thing that I’ve found the most challenging (and the most harmful) is when those around us who don’t support our dreams and visions for success try to dissuade or even prevent us from even trying.

Over drinks a few months ago a friend confided that she was having doubts about becoming a masseuse. She was saving money for the local massage school, and in the meantime was also taking online classes about anatomy, different massage styles, how to handle the business side  — a lot of smart prep work.

“Maybe it’s too much. Maybe I’m biting off more than I can chew,” she said.

“Why do you say that? “ I asked. She had been talking about this for a couple of years, and I was surprised to hear her suddenly switch gears.  Now she was saying,

  • “I won’t be able to spend a lot of time with my family”
  • “I need to help out with my grandkids”
  • “We can use the massage school money for other things.”

I asked her what was changing her mind and she opened up that her sister and another good friend suggested that the time wasn’t right, it wouldn’t be fair to her family, she was being selfish, and anyway, she may not be any good at it at all.  

I always try to balance being a listening and supportive friend with being a guiding business coach when it comes to my buddies. In this instance I told her the same thing both as coach and as friend.

“They’re just being crabs in a barrel!”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

I explained that the “Crabs in the Barrel” scenario is when a bunch of crabs are in a bucket or barrel and one tries to climb out; the other crabs pull it back in with them so none of them ever escape.  For us humans, it’s when one person wants to change their lives for the better — get married, divorced, get a better education, change jobs, accept a promotion, start a business, switch careers, etc. — and it cause others around them to feel uncomfortable or left behind.  These “crabs” project their own discomfort onto the person who’s making changes and try to talk him/her out of it. They want to keep them in the barrel with them, instead of watching them make changes.

I asked my friend what she still thought of the idea of becoming a massage therapist and she lit up. She said she thought it was a great idea and was excited to help people relax and overcome body stress.  She also wanted to be more in charge of her own income and add flexibility to her day. She said that she didn’t have any doubts at all until after speaking with her sister and friend. I suggested 3 things:

  1. Find a mentor: Ask someone in the industry who can provide direction. This person will also keep her on track with her goals.
  2. Identify 5 people who “spark” her: Surround herself with people who were in her corner.  These are people who make her laugh, who she wants to spend time with and who encourage her 24/7.
  3. Don’t talk to “Dousers”: Avoid sharing her passions with people who doused her dreams.

When you find someone instilling their own fears, inhibitions and negativity onto you, make a mental note to not share your heart with them again.  You don’t necessarily have to drop them completely, but if they’re not in your corner, then keep your dreams to yourself.

I believe it’s important to surround yourself with positive, supportive people every day, but especially when you’re embarking on something new in your life.

There will always be those who say they’re “just looking out for you”, who want “to keep you safe” and “avoid heartache, disappointment and pain.”  You can appreciate their concern, tell them “I got this!” and keep moving on.

Surround yourself with the right people and find the right tribe for yourself.  The only thing that will stop you is you.