I was sharing with my sister (my best friend) something that had happened at my work this past week. It was what we call a “learning opportunity” in which I was doing very well at my work, but another coworker, unfortunately, felt threatened by it. This person’s behavior from this perceived threat was jaw-dropping, and while I quickly confronted the person, I was still amazed by their audacity.
When people come from a fear-based mindset, we make all sorts of problems. My sister and I looked back upon our lives, and we both agreed, that when we acted from fear, we made the mistakes in our lives we regretted the most. It made me feel compassion for this individual, while still acknowledging the practical need to protect myself, going forward.
My sister and I paused in our conversation, each of us reflecting on what was just said, and our lives. Then my sister said, “You know the story of the crabs-in-a-pot, right?” No, I told her. “Oh, I thought for sure I told you this story,” she added. “No, no, tell me! I’ve never heard this story,” I urged.
“Well,” Cheryl said, “When crabs are in the pot about to be boiled, they all start becoming frightened, obviously, and claw and climb all over each other. But do you know what they do when one is just about to get out of the pot to freedom?”
“The other crabs pull the almost-free crab back into the pot, with them.”
“Oh my God,” I said. “That’s terrible!”
“I know,” she said. “But that’s Life, and that’s what most people do too. If one of us gets ahead of another, most people become frightened or jealous, and do everything they can to pull that person back to their level., even if that means just sharing misery. And what’s sad and ironic, is if they let that crab go on, and be free, who’s to say that he wouldn’t turn back, and pull the others to safety? That way, they could all be in a better place, and be saved (provided there are no hungry humans watching the pot). The one crab could help the rest of the crabs, but the rest won’t give him the chance to do so.”
This was a “Wow” moment for me. It was so simple, but so true. Just as I was moving forward in success or recognition, how many times was I attacked by others who didn’t want to see my success? Call them sour grapes or sabotage, people’s behavior ran the spectrum between the two, and it was very commonplace. It is truly a rare person, and evolved person, who can be genuinely happy for another, especially if they are not feeling too good about themselves at the moment.
But I also, in the past, allowed them to pull me back.
This time, I make a different choice. This person must think that it’s a race between the two of us, or perhaps, they think that the only way they are any good is only if they are the best ALL the time. They have no idea that I am running a different race, and therefore their perception of what’s happening, while very real to this person, is irrelevant to me.This person must not realize that I am not of the character that once in a place of success, I forget everyone who helped me get there. Rather, it is very important to me to shine the light upon my human-angels, thank them (not out of obligation, but out of love), turn around, and help as many others as I can. But this person does not know that about me, or does not trust this in people. And what a shame that is, because without being open to the possibility, this person will never have the opportunity to see it for themselves.
Well, I can’t control the choices of others. But I can determine my own.
I will be the crabby who continues to rise. And then I will help others rise as well…the crabbies who want to, that is.