#18 Crab Pot Mentality!

I learn so much from my students; constantly.  Last week was the latest example.  In class, we were watching a few selected scenes from the powerful and compelling movie Homeless to Harvard. The movie chronicles Liz Murray’s inspiring journey as she went from a drug-addicted dysfunctional family, to a foster care facility, to homeless, to Harvard. The true story provides real-life examples of concepts such as belief systems, values, goals, motivation, and locus of control.

One scene shows a confrontation between Liz and a teacher on one side, and one of Liz’s friends (Chris) from the streets.  Liz has just been told by her teacher that she has the highest grades in her school and, as a reward, she is being sent on an all-expenses paid trip to Boston. The purpose of the trip is to get Liz thinking about college. You can see it on Chris’s face: Liz is moving up, out, and about to leave her behind.  Rather than be happy for her friend, Chris lashes out and says “It’s all crap.” The teacher offers Chris the same chance but tells her she will have to work hard to get what Liz has accomplished. Chris responds with, “Not freakin’ interested.”

When we discussed this scene in class, I used the term “hater” for Chris. The students got the message and were ready to talk about it—as many of them have “haters” in their lives.  These are the people who will pull them down, dash their dreams, and/or sabotage their plans.  The “haters” want to hold the person back with questions like, “Who do you think you are?” Or “Do you think you’re better than me?”

When I used “hater” (which had been introduced to me by a student, also) this past week, one of my students said that she used “crab pot mentality” to describe the same thing.  She said when crabs are put into a cooking pot, they start to clamber up the side of the pot to escape. An interesting thing happens on their way to freedom: The crabs left behind reach up and pull the fleeing crabs back into the pot.  Rather than see anyone live for another day, the crabs appear to be content to all die.

What a powerful metaphor!  I did a quick Google search and found a number of references to “crab pot mentality.”  Here are just three:

Whatever you choose to call these people—haters, crabs, energy vampires, saboteurs, dysfunctional—they can kill a dream if we allow them into our world.  If you have run into these energy suckers, please share your strategies. What is your antidote to their poison?

 © Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog, 2010.

About stevepiscitelli

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80 Responses to #18 Crab Pot Mentality!

  1. shawn says:

    Steve… awesome posting. I would like to add that for myself and some other people I have known the hardest “escape” from hater mentality is that voice inside your own head that says you DON’T deserve, …or you CAN’T have, …or SHOULDN’T try. I find it much easier to dismiss others with a can’t do attitude that the one that creeps up from own subconscious. I was never “dismissed” as a child but somehow letting myself be selfish enough to succeed is the hardest part of the process.


  2. Valid point, Shawn. Self-talk is so very powerful. I heard it explained one time as a little person standing on my shoulder and constantly whispering in my ear. It can be exhausting. Sometimes I wonder if that has become my musical muse! 🙂


  3. Barbara says:

    This movie is powerful in that it illustrates that the something on the inside is greater than the circumstances on the outside. It provoked me to take a trip inside and take a tour of that something on the iside that is within me. Yeah, there is definitely that something there, at times I wonder if it is, but to be assured that I did find that something inside of me was one the greatest souveniers I have ever brought back from any trip I have taken.


  4. travis a brown says:

    Haters are much to common in my opinion. I think having this mentality is a weakness. The people who behave this way need posative examples in which to model themselves after. That is why I believe we should not only aspire to be strong enough to stop the crabs from pulling us down, but be able to pull these unfortunate people up.


  5. carmen says:

    This movie is awesome, it opened my eyes. A girl that had nothing that lost her family and her best friend was holding her back you would think that she will be homeless for ever but no she whent back to school and made it big time. It toled my if she can do it i can to, all a had to do is givet all my best and like Mr.Piscitelli says dont try do it and get ride of the haters in your life.


  6. J.L.M. says:

    This blog takes me back through my life.There were

    numerous occasions when different individuals were either successful in their devious plots against myself and others or they were unsuccessful.Either way,envy and jealousy seems to be a soul sickness that cuts like a knife. With only one thing in mind,and that is to attempt to drag others down to their level!(Crabpot mentality!)
    One day some guy walked up to me and said,”What makes you think that you are better than me?”My response was,”I don’t think that,you do.”



  7. Carmelo says:

    Even though many of us have those ‘hatin crabs’ in our lives, it is ultimately up to us to have the last say so. Yea I know those kinds of people can bring you down depending on the personal relationship but you can easily turn the negativity into something positive. Personally, when somebody tells me I can’t do something or why I shouldn’t, I use it as motivation to push forth and SHOW them why. Dont get me wrong it could definitely have a major effect on your performance, IF you let it.I feel if you do have someone with crab pot mentality you should start the detachment process. For those who are close to you, use there negative feedback and keep that in mind whenever the next obstacle is thrown your way. Just remember, that the mind is a very powerful weapon and if you continue believing what you have always, you will continue to have the same outcome…But if have your mind set that you CAN and WILL succeed, then wont ANYTHING trip you along the way. (you may stumble but get back up, run faster)


  8. S.Welch says:

    When it comes to the so called “haters” the best advice I can give is to just ignore them. Keep in mind that you have a goal to accomplish and you should’t let anyone bring you down. In many cases when you have some one hating on you in the future they are usaully the ones that need you, so we should all think twice before we want to hate others.


  9. S.Welch says:

    When it comes to the so called “haters” the best advice I can give you is to just ignore them. In life we all have some kind of “haters” and in the future the same ones that were pulling u down always have their hand out when you make it to the top. Generally our “haters” are close friends or relatives so be careful and watch out for those devious creatures.


  10. Alexandra H. says:

    In regards to haters, I believe that people are jealous. I’m almost sure that they do not mean to be jealous. However, growing up in foster care(much like the character in homeless to harvard), I know that our haters are also afforded the same opportunities as everyone else and chose to avoid it. So to me haters are just disppointed that they decided to be folllowers trying to live for “now” and not considering the fact that your today is going to be what determines our tomorrow.


  11. Carmen R says:

    This Reflection remind me so much of my life.

    After letting the haters into your world, at some point you may feel discourage, anger, let down, and have know one to turn to. You have to stay focus, because being a hater is like having a job, people find things to make one person or the other feel down.Interact with positive people, ease your mind, focus on positive things,and find time to encourage someone. I learn to ignore, it’s hard, but when you compare there life, and there standards, you find less time to let the negative energy be a poison


  12. Ric says:

    In response to haters, theres always going to be a time when someone will put you down with them because they dont want to see you move on. If Michael Jordan gave up after he got cut from his schools basketball team we would have lost the best legend in the game of basketball. Just imagine what most of the celebrities had to go through I know there were put down at many times in thier lives. Sometimes even the closest people can bring you down like friends and family but its up to you to look forward and not backwards. My favorite quote of all time is the world steps aside for the man that knows where he is going. What that means is as long as you have a dream dont let nothin stand in your way.


  13. Steve T. says:

    I feel that the people that have this “crab pot mentality” hold people back not out of hate but more so out of fear. They seem to be afraid that the people they love or care for may possibly leave them or just not have time for them anymore. While they wish the best for you they can’t resist their fear and pull you back down to their level.They feel if you are in the same situation as they are you will not leave them.


  14. Mary Henderson says:

    I have had a few haters in my life, especially when they see that you are reaching towards your dream. They have nothing good to say , all negative feedback. I have learn to void these type of people out or my life, but sometimes you may also have love ones that don’t believe in you. I know this is sad, but true. In this situation I keep a positive attitude and stay focus on what I want and keep doing what I need to get it. Haters will steal your dreams if you allow them to, most have no goals in life, or don’t want you to do better than them, and they will do all they can to discourage you and keep you under their feet.


  15. charlesetta b says:

    I think people are out for themselves, even your family and friends.If they think you have a better chance in achieving your goal, they will try to block you.People with the “crab pot” mentality mind set have a fear of people leaving them behind and on a different level than them.


  16. Gessica says:

    Gessica- I like my haters they give me fuel to prove them wrong. Being hater is there job they get paid to hate on people b/c they want what i have. Its actually very cute for them to act like that.


  17. Tyshira says:

    This movie shows an “everyday life situtation”. From experience i can say noone want to see you doing better then them especially if you are trying to get some where in life.People that acts like CHRIS is what i call DREAM DESTROYERS, instead of them pushing you to do better they would rather pull you back down. I have had friends like this they down you make you feel like what you are doing is wrong, and make you feel like you are hurting them. My motto has always been HATERS are my MOTIVATION,haters let me know im doing something right. My advice for people who have friends like this in todays world is to let them GO because they are not your real friend is they discourages you.


  18. Jerica M says:

    I have alot of haters thats why now I distance myself. Even family hate on you but the outside world mostly. People say what dey can do for you and how they can help you but as soon as you need them they make up an excuse becuse they see you doing good. Also they see you actually followering your dream. With my haters anything I do its something else they say im doing bad at. Basicly anything I do my Hater never is satisfied they will never give me my props that just a hater!!! But haters motivate you to strive to be the best you can be. Prove to them you can do it.


  19. Chelsie Roberts says:

    I feel like a “hater” doesn’t really hate you. I feel that they hate what you can do that they can’t. A hater is an envious creature and they come in all shapes and sizes (family members, friends, co-workers, etc.) My antidote to the “hatorism” is to use there hate as motivation, just for the simple fact that a “hater” doesn’t hate you they envy you. So you must be doing something correct. They look up to you so give them something to look up to.


  20. Angelique says:

    good point that was a great movie. That just goes to show that no mattermwhere u go in life or how good you are doing you are always going to have haters no matter what. I agree with the comment above, no one wants to see you doing better than them….MISERY LOVES COMPANY


  21. Detrecia M says:

    I believe haters is what make the world go round. Haters can be postive or negative in my view. If you have someone trying to bring you down and you are doing good, then that is a postive hater because you as the person would see that you dont want to be them 3 or 6 months down the road and you would continue to strive for success. On the other hand, if you have a hater that is doing bad in life and you follow after their footsteps and become what they have became then you have a negative hater that that has been a bad influence in your life. I actually love having a couple of haters because they motivate me to do better.


  22. Kelly Glover says:

    I actually love haters.It dosent bother me at all to know i am on someones mind all the time.At first i had a hard time excepting haters, i use to think, when i was younger i had to make a hater get a chance to know and try to fit in with them so they can like me.The more i found out what a haters really was, it actually motivated me.I notice how hard they try to bring you down an how ignorant they are. So i just would like to tell the haters thank you, for making me and plenty others stronger.


  23. Chris Bryant says:

    People are always going to talk about you no matter how good or bad your are doing in this world we call life. Haters are the people who are there to try and bring your down. Haters are haters for ether two reasons: (1) They wish they could do what you are doing themselves and failed to do so, from lack on encouragement in themselves/others. (2) They just don’t want to see other people doing better than them or going to succeed further than them in the near future. Haters, are what we call are motivators these days. Because of our haters, It allows us to have a reason to be better at this and that and it gives us some encouragement that we are doing the right thing. It”s easy to let things get to your head, but that’s why we must stay focused on our goals and strive to the things we believe in not others.


  24. Kanetra Y says:

    Great posting Mr. Piscitelli, I say call your “haters” your motivators. Most people that “hate” on you are jealous of whatever it is you’ve accomplished. Which means you’re doing something right.


  25. Kisha C. says:

    Well I’ve always believed what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I have had my share of “haters” in my life and yes sometimes they have got to me but I realized that they had only got to me because I let them. I know now that whatever I put my mind to I can achieve just by life experiences.So therefore haters keep hating its motivating!!


  26. mandrell "funnyman" little says:

    This story is so reassuring that life happens and dreams do come true.
    The young women had a trying life and a hard start, but through many obstacles, and set backs she decides to make a change and make it happened for herself.
    Life had dealt her such a bad hand she had nowhere to go but up and hats off to her for making her “fourth quarter” count.


    • mandrell "funnyman" little says:

      had to post again.

      The gurl’s parents in this story really troubled me, all too often does neglect go on unnoticed and children end up taking care of the parents.
      This story displayed rather accurately what goes on in America with kids having to grow up too fast and fend for themselves while playing parent to mom and dad.



  27. felicia says:

    I only watched a couple of clips in class and i can certainly agree that chris was definitely a hater. I can truly agree that i have a lot of haters but they motivated me to do better.


  28. Steve Lobo says:

    Great blog mister P, and thank you for sharing that movie with us in class. Also the clip you shared from Stand and deliver was very moving. People like Liz Murray and Jaime Escalante are an inspiration and serve as a reminder that our futures are not etched in stone and that we are always in control of our own destiny. In life you will always run into “haters.” I have always been able to block those people out and remain focused on the matter at hand. If I was to give some one advise on blocking out these obstacles I would tell them that the haters only goal is to keep them from succeeding and if you succumb to their traps they get what they want. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dream. Always prove them wrong by being brave and doing things that not even you thought you were capable of.


  29. K53 Learners says:

    Your post #18 Crab Pot Mentality! Steve Piscitelli’s Blog is helpful and well considered, I want to come back to review new article content..!


  30. Good insightful write up, you invariably come up with the ideal stories and of course #18 Crab Pot
    Mentality! Steve Piscitelli’s Blog is simply no exception to this rule.


  31. Toya says:

    Professor I never saw this movie before. However, it was very moving . I commend Liz by not letting her childhood determine her future. When she tried to help Chris the body gesture and attitude was displeasing. People will always give you accolade when you are doing something positive . But when you have reached your destination those same people are the first to backbite. Haters either want what you have, wish they were you, or they are just down right jeaolus of you . I love them. They motivate me to keep on keeping on. As you quote professor ” What are you doing to get what you want” we all make our own choices day to day. At the end of the day we are the only ones who have to deal with the choices we have made. Either you choose to live a life towards success or settle for for less. Haters downplaty people because they are not were they want to be in their lives. I wouldn’t let it affect me . I look at it as , their watching all eyes on me, and continue to proceed towards my success. You may even set encouragement for their “hateration” for them to follow your lead. “Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated”….Coretta Scott King


  32. Keyondra says:

    People are always going to talk about you whether it’s bad or good. When people start talking bad about you and you are doing well for youself ,it’s time to let them go because all they’re going to do is bring you down ,and try and make you feel bad you don’t need people like in you life. As hard as it might be to cut some people off it might be for the best. Sometimes the haters in are life are the people who we love, and when it comes down to that you have to take a good look at the people in your life. Some people are put in you life to last forever and some are put in you life to last a season.


  33. BBOY Samurai says:

    Everywhere we go there are haters for everything, even in your family could be aunts uncles, ect. Haters are not born just turn into.
    Even with succeful people there’s going to be that one person who really wants to bring them down into the crab pot! People work hard to be succeful no matter where they come from, and othes stay the same and do nothing just want to pull you down with them.
    You have to start with nothing to get something!


  34. Ayanna Nelson says:

    Wow ! What a GREAT POST Mr. Piscitelli. As far as “Haters” are concerned , their your “MOTIVATION” their just people who want to be like you ! Whatever it is that you have in you. They truly do admire it on the low. Haters really don’t want to see you doing well for yourself. You have to use their negative feedback as your positive feedback , Meaning as your motivation. Just because someone says you can’t do something. Never ever means you should give up .. Keep on pushing & Striving for what you want . If you don’t have “Haters” you’re not doing something right. I Love My Haters !!!!!


  35. CaShaela N. says:

    Such an amazing blog! I feel as though “Haters” are people who secretly want to be you. They want something you have whether it’s material or internal. They don’t have it so they will do anything to stop you from having it. If a person sees you have confidence in your self they will try to tear you down to feel as bad about your self as they do. At the end of the day, you can’t be concerned with what people think about you, you have to cut the “Haters” out of your life. Those people only want to tear you down to be miserable like them. The best revenge is always happiness.


  36. jessica says:

    ….i agree “hater” is someone who cant get on the level your own so they try to pull u down with them. they throw negative thigs at you just to put them on their level.


  37. tristyn says:

    I love that idea. ive had haters, and all i can think about is how they were just jealous and would never give me the help or motivation i needed from my friends. Crab pot is the best way to describe it!


  38. MaranaSue Keith says:

    I really feel like this blog was something I was suppose to see at this point in my life. There will always be at least one person content with the mediocre lifestyle they are living until someone on their level begins to move up. At that point they know they don’t wanna do the work to move forward but they don’t wanna be left behind so they begin to down or ridicule the person. It’s sad and sometimes that person can be someone as close to you as a mother or sister. I have also realized and witnessed that sometimes that hater is yourself. You know what you need to do to move forward but then you start doubting yourself and looking around at your friends and saying “if they can’t do it then neither can I’. We are our worst haters.


  39. eric904 says:

    My experience with haters has showed me to simply just accept them. Be proud you have haters in your life. Having haters is a clear cut sign that you have something they don’t and cant or couldn’t figure out how to get it. Haters say things like who do you think you are or my favorite you think you better than everybody else. Always remember haters come in all shapes sizes and colors they could be people you think are friends family and anybody you come across that you have never met before. They’ll even act like they like you just to hate you. So with that being said remember the more haters you have the more success you have achieved.


  40. amp boy says:

    people is always going to talk down on u weather u doing good r doing bad so it don’t bother me at what hater got to say I been threw it all from having all the money to not having no money so aint much a hater can say bout me but he blessed


  41. Cyante says:

    This was a great blog. when i think of a hater i see someone that puts me down, and always refers to my flaws. the crab pot Mentality is an great example of a hater. Someone who always trys to pull u down becuase they are down. A hater can also be a good thing because it might motivate you to be better and show off what they put down. I loved this blog and it was the one for me to read.


  42. zay says:

    I like this story because it reminds me of the past when I graduated from high school. Like Liz was hated by Chris, I was also disliked when I graduated .people talked about me in very negative ways, which made me feel bad about myself. I learned that some people don’t want to see you shine. I learned I have to make on my own and ignore others who are negative.


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