I was once told about a type of crab that cannot be caught – it is agile and clever enough to get out of any trap. Yet these crabs are caught by the thousands every day, thanks to a particular human-like trait they possess
The trap itself is simple: a wire cage with a hole at the top. Bait is placed in the cage, and lowered into the water. A crab comes along, enters the cage, and begins munching on the bait. A second crab sees the first crab and joins him. Then a third. For a time, it’s crab Thanksgiving. Eventually, though, all the bait is gone.
At this point the crabs could easily climb up the side of the cage and leave through the hole. But they don’t. They stay in the cage. And long after the bait is gone, even more crabs continue to climb inside the trap (they’re attracted by the crowd… sound familiar?)
Not one crab leaves. Why? Because if one crab realizes there’s nothing keeping him in the trap and tries to leave, the other crabs will do anything they can to stop him. They will repeatedly pull him from the side of the cage. If he is persistent, the others will tear off his claws to keep him from climbing. If he persists still, they will kill him.
The crabs – controlled by the power of the herd – stay together in the cage. All the fisherman needs is a tiny bit of bait. The rest is easy. Then the cage is hauled up, and it’s dinnertime on the pier.
Like crabs, most of the human world follows the crowd. This herd mentality has been conditioned in us by academia, corporate culture, media, and society. We are encouraged to follow the status quo. For most people, that means falling out of shape as we age and time goes on. And that’s exactly what 90 percent of the world does.
When you decide to walk away from the 90 percent and take control of your body and health, you’re like a lone crab trying to leave the trap.
When you decide to take control of your body and health, you’re choosing to be different. You’re passing on foods that everyone else is eating. You’re going to bed when everyone else stays up drinking and snacking. You’re driving to the gym while everyone else watches Netflix or Hulu. You refuse to hit snooze while everyone else wakes up 30 minutes before work.
Humans won’t physically harm you like crabs will when you deviate from the norm. But, you will inevitably hit resistance. They will try to convince you to join them. They will offer you the piece of cake, even though you’ve made your goals clear to them. They will turn on Netflix immediately after dinner, and you’ll have FOMO if you leave for the gym.
Their methods are not physical harm but include: innuendos, doubt, ridicule, mockery, sarcasm, scorn, sneering, belittlement, humiliation, jeering, taunting, teasing, and many more. These are the tactics that the “crabs” around you will use to “pull off your claws” and kill your goals.
But why do they do it? Many of these people love you. Why would they want to hurt you emotionally and kill your hopes, dreams, and desire for something more?
There are two key reasons:
I can tell you why your “crabs” will do what they do, but it’s still easy to be caught off guard by their “crabby” behavior.
When friends and family reject your goals, it can hurt a lot more than the rejection you might experience from other people at work or school. It doesn’t hurt so much from them. It’s not you; it’s not personal. But when friends and family reject your fitness goals, it feels far more personal. It hurts. “No” to your fitness goals from friends and colleagues is one thing. “No” to your vision for yourself and the goals that you’ve taken personally and have your mind set on is another. That “no” feels a lot like they’re saying “no” to you.
What you’ll soon realize, though, is that it’s not about you at all. They are really saying “no” to themselves. They’re rejecting their own inner voice that prods them to do more. To step out. To leave the comfort zone… like you.
They aren’t resentful of you. They’re resentful of themselves.
But it still hurts. And it can derail you if you’re not prepared. Anyone who has a dream – one that might finally get them out of the body they’re uncomfortable in – had best beware of the fellow inhabitants of that trap. They can be very persistent in trying to drag you from the straight and narrow.
This is the first post in a series about dealing with “crabs” and other dips and drops on the fitness roller coaster. It’s about accepting and loving your “freaky” nature. It’s about facing disapproval, discouragement, and downright ridicule, and coming back stronger and more resilient than ever.
I remember a great quote from Gandhi that I think every person with a fitness goal needs to keep at hand:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
I like that. We win.
So how do you start to embrace your freaky nature and press on despite the naysayers and obstacles? Stay tuned for the next article in the series.
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