Today I will start with a story. It is happening right now to someone I know and love.
A friend of mine who has been able to move past the anger she felt at her lover and at the way their relationship ended is beginning to feel good again.
No longer is she waking up hating her boyfriend's guts, no longer is she consumed by feelings of revenge... no longer are the thoughts of the past and how badly she has been treated consuming her every waking moment.
Instead, she is suddenly happy. Free again, excited about her life. She is even thinking of changing her job, as she sees new opportunities coming her way.
My friend is thrilled with how she is feeling. It's been a very long time since she felt so happy. But when she shares her feelings with her friends, she gets a strange reaction.
They don't believe her.
They think she is in denial and that she needs to get real and tell them how badly she feels.
"You need to vent," they tell her. "Go ahead, keep venting, don't hold back, we are here for you."
Venting. Such a charming word. A euphemism for blaming and for staying in righteous anger.
They all met for lunch the other day and this is where that conversation took place.
My friend left feeling frustrated and lost. And angry at her girlfriends, women she had know all her life.
She doesn't want to see them anymore, she is also torn.
Why am I sharing this?
Because what I have just described is not uncommon.
I have written about this in the past, but I feel it's time to talk about it some more:
"The crabs in the bucket" phenomenon.
Have you ever seen people gathering crabs on the beach?
Have you noticed they never put a lid on the bucket where they keep their crabs?
They don't have to.
Because as soon as the second crab is inside the bucket, one of the crabs will make sure the other one stays put by pulling it down every time it tries to get out!
Now imagine there are more than just two crabs at the bottom of this bucket. Say, now there are 5 or 10...or perhaps a whole bunch of them crawling around, bumping into each other, unable to get out.
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 and complain about how they hate people who put them there, how they hate being in the box, how unfair life is to crabs.
And guess what? They will always find a sympathetic ear as long as they are in that bucket.
And as they cry and complain, they distract themselves from what comes next: a slow and painful death.
Because they are all on the way to being cooked, aren't they?
Or sold and then separated and then cooked.
Denial is a powerful mechanism. Even crabs are using it. Denying the fact that they have lost their freedom as soon as they found themselves in that bucket.
And now imagine that one of these crabs decides: enough! I can't breathe in this crowded place. There is not enough light and not enough space for me to move. I will get out of here! I want my freedom back.
What do you think is going to happen as this crab begins to crawl up, muttering on its way: "Sorry guys, I love you, but... I no longer fit here."
Immediately, the remaining crabs will move together to pull it back down! "Not so fast! Who do you think you are? We are not good for you anymore?"
The crab metaphor is obvious.
If you've made friends with people who like to bitch about everything and everyone, if you have joined their club and have been "happily bitching along" about how life is unfair, the boss is a jerk, how you can't trust men, or women, or anyone for that matter... what happens when you suddenly wake up?
Suddenly, you are not fun anymore.
Not only are your "friends" not interested, they mock you, they don't want to listen, they encourage you to go back to the way you were.
Because you no longer fit with them. And they will try to do everything they can to bring you down to be your old miserable self again.
Just like crabs in the bucket do. Miserable, but together.
But let us give these friends the benefit of the doubt.
Because often times, they are not bad or malicious people. They are simply people in pain. They have not yet found the way out of that prison, and they are scared of losing you.
Also, your courage to change and to lift up to a higher resonance is a reminder of what they won't deal in themselves. And so they pull you down.
This is what is happening to my friend.
And now she has two choices:
Leave the friends she no longer fits with and step into the scary, unknown territory of a new life,
or - go back and keep the so-called friends and continue as she was.
The former takes courage, and trusting yourself. And being able to handle sadness, and fear, and hurt.
The latter is simpler. It does not require much, except you giving up on yourself.
"But Auriela, isn't it so cold? So unfeeling? How can you suggest that she leave her friends? They might have been there for her all her life?"
My answer is this.
If they are really good friends, they will change their tune and support her in her growth. And if they won't, perhaps it is time to leave them behind.
Is it cold and unfeeling? Hardly.
There will be sadness, there will be grieving and there will be loss. And she will feel what comes for her - and she will let it go.
She may be alone for a while. There are no guarantees in life.
Keeping these old friends that keep pulling her down comes with a price. Too high a price, in my opinion.
That price is self-abandonment.
Is it worth paying?
You tell me.
Here is the quote I love:
"There are always risks in freedom. The only risk in bondage is breaking free." Lazaris.
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 bucket. "It may be Auschwitz, but it's home."
Would anyone want to leave the so-called 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. Sometimes, more than other times. Still they acted!
They went ahead even when they didn't have all the answers. And they have built the lives they dreamed about, blazing their trial for the rest of us.
They forged their own course, and in the process - found themselves.
And the moral?
You are not here to get everyone's approval, nor are you here to be liked by everyone.
What are you here for?
The answer is yours to find.
I will give you a hint. You are here to find happiness, to create it for yourself, consciously. You are here to learn how to have fun! And to live the most amazing and joyous life.
A life-long journey. The most unselfish and loving thing you can do.
How come? Think about it.
This is this week's food for thought.
All for now.