Are you familiar with the "crabs in the box" phenomenon?
Don’t know what I am talking about? Here it is.
If you’ve ever watched people looking for crabs on the beach, you might have noticed that they never have a lid on the box into which they put the crabs they find. They don’t need to. Once the second crab gets put into the box, there is no way either one of them can escape. Because as soon as one crab starts climbing out, the remaining crab will pull it down.
No matter how many crabs are eventually sharing the same box, each one of them is now destined to stay put: the other crabs simply won’t let it crawl out.
Now if only people would observe the crabs and make the obvious conclusions!
What’s happening to the crabs captured in the box? They are now stuck there, aren’t they?
Is it a happy place? Is this where they want to stay?
Well, you may say, they have company, they are no longer alone, they belong, they can make friends, share their stories...
Yes they can. And they can whine about how they hate being in the box, for example, and always find a sympathetic ear.
And they can try to forget about what the natural outcome of being in that box is: They are all on the way to being cooked, aren’t they? Or sold and then separated and then - cooked?
They have lost their freedom as soon as they found themselves in that box.
The crab metaphor is obvious.
If you’ve been hanging out with people who like to bitch about everything and everyone, if you have joined their club and have been “happily bitching along” about how your life sucks, the government is rotten, life is unfair, the boss is a jerk… what happens if you suddenly wake up one day?
Let’s say you realize: that’s enough! I am going to do something about my life, I am going to stop this crazy complaining, feeling like a victim, blaming others for my failures… I will take action, do something to get out of this!
Excited and filled with enthusiasm you go to your friends and share your newly found enthusiasm.
What happens then?
You are suddenly not fun anymore, are you? Not only are your “friends” not interested, they ridicule you, mock you, don’t want to listen. You no longer fit their company, do you? And they will do everything they can to bring you down to be your old miserable self again. Just like crabs in the box do. Miserable, but together.
And now you have two choices: (Thank God, you are a human, not a crab.)
You can leave your friends and step into the scary, unknown territory of a different life, or you can go back and keep the so-called friends and continue as you were.
The former needs courage, the latter is simpler, it does not require much, except giving up on yourself and on any hope to have a better life.
Which one will it be?
Where will you be five years from now having made the courageous choice to get out of the box and then – having acted upon it?
And where will you still be if you have not?
Here is the quote I love:
“There are always risks in freedom. The only risk in bondage is breaking free.” Lazaris.
While you were sitting in the box, you have already lost your freedom without even realizing it. You’ve voluntarily traded your freedom for the “security” of belonging to a group, no longer being alone. You may be miserable, you may hate yourself and your life, but – you have company. And all of you are “happily” miserable together.
One crucial thing to remember: we must always re-evaluate our freedom.
What looked like a good choice, and felt like freedom yesterday, might have become prison today. A teenager picking up drugs, rebelling against adults and feeling a rush of freedom becomes enslaved by the addiction and is anything but free. And if he or she joins a gang, the exhilaration of belonging is at first overwhelming. Getting out of the gang in the future is another matter all together, isn’t it? Not that easy, and not that simple.
But let’s say you have really decided to break free from that box, leave the crabs that you’ve made friends with and walk away…
Let’s say you are not a crab, but a person, and they can’t hold you against your will.
How strong is your will? Because breaking free can be really scary.
There are no guarantees you will ever make new friends, that your new life will work, that you will get what you wanted…
It is much "safer" in the box. “It may be Auschwitz, but it’s home.”
So who would want to leave this security for the dangerous, unknown terrain of freedom?
Just look around you. Think of the people you admire most. Every one of them has done it. And every one of them has been afraid at times. Some times more than other times. Still they acted!
It is taking action versus talking about it and doing nothing that makes the difference.
And you will begin to feel happy. Not all the time. Not a 100%. But you will start liking yourself more, and you will inspire others to break out of their own boxes.
That’s why daring to be happy is the least selfish and the most loving thing you can do.
People who have created happiness in their lives, people who have become an inspiration to so many, are people who dared to be free.
Think about it.
All for now.