Have you ever watched a group of lobsters together in a tank or even a pot? They snap, crawl, step and push each other out of the way as they all fight to get to the top. They step on the little ones, pile up on the weaker ones and just as soon as one of them starts to pull themselves out – they rest latch on and pull them back down. It is interesting to watch but what is even more interesting is watching people around us and comparing their behavior to that of the lobsters.
Does it sound familiar? Do you know of anyone like that? Are you like that?
The human version of the lobster is someone who tries constantly to bring others down, hold them back and instead of rising to the top of the pot on their own strength and merit, get their by stepping on others and keeping them down, or if they can’t do that, holding others back so they aren’t alone at the bottom. Think about it – I know it sounds familiar. There is always someone ready, willing and able to point out the negative, to never look at or celebrate your accomplishments, never celebrating theirs either – just comparing it to others’ failures. People who feel that it is easier to bring others down than to lift themselves up. These people, these lobsters suck the energy and the positivity out of everyone and everything around them. When you have something exciting to share, you avoid them because they will have something negative to say about it and burst your bubble…. sound familiar now?
Politics is a prime example of my lobster theory. How often to we see candidates and even elected officials campaigning not FOR themselves, but AGAINST the others? Ads on television and radio – everywhere talking about what the other people did wrong instead of what they have done right? Whenever I see someone engaging in a smear campaign I have to laugh because they are so caught up in their own lobster mentality that they don’t realize that what they say and do about others says more about themselves than anyone else. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see people who feel that they should be in a position of leadership and representation be able to stand on their own merit instead of dragging others down from the top of the pot and stepping on them to keep them down?
More than just in politics though – we see these types of behavior in everyday life. I made a post on my facebook page recently talking about how excited I am for an upcoming vacation. One person’s response was “It must be nice!” and I replied, “Yes it is!” Of course it is or I wouldn’t be excited about it, but we all know that isn’t what she meant – it was a lobster response to someone else’s happiness, a comment that had no other meaning but to lobsterize someone’s excitement and make them feel guilty for doing or having something that others may not.
Some people will say “You shouldn’t brag!” or “You’re just rubbing my nose in it!” But even those comments are lobster words. Why shouldn’t someone be able to express excitement, joy or pride at their own accomplishments? Why should others have to tone down their enthusiasm for their successes in order to avoid offending other’s self pity? Nothing is stopping others from achieving their goals, dreams and desires so why should we be responsible for how they feel about their own life and try to down-play ours? I think that allowing others to pull us down from the top of the pot makes us just as bad as they are – if they pull us down to their level, if we let them keep us there, we are just as bad as they are and we will all stay in the pot together!
What would happen if we all decided to stop worrying about other’s actions, stop comparing ourselves to them, stop minimizing their successes and instead actually celebrated with them? If they have done something or have something we would like, wouldn’t we get closer to having it for ourselves if we changed our comment from “It must be nice!” to ” That is awesome! I would love to do that, can you tell me how you did?” And instead of being pulled down into the pot, the person holding on to the rim would turn around and start pulling others up!
One of my keys to survival throughout so many trying and difficult times has been to follow the mantra, “Don’t be a lobster!” That means that I will pull myself up, not step on others to get their pr pull anyone down on the way – focus on my own strengths, acknowledge my weaknesses and improve them, never being afraid to ask for help when needed. When I see someone facing a challenge that I have already overcome, I turn and offer to help them with the tools that worked for me, just as someone one step above already helped me. When people start with pettiness, trying to bring me down instead of pulling themselves up, I ignore them henever possible, sometimes I will even say “Don’t be a lobster” and leave them shaking their head in confusion, basking in their own negativity.
Not being a lobster doesn’t mean you go through life seeing only rainbows. There are problems that need to be addressed, issues, heartache, mistakes, and bad days, and sometimes it is all you can do to keep just one toe out of the pot, but as long as you can hang on with that one toe, you can pull yourself back out again and start all over, pulling others up with you along the way, stronger and wiser for the experience. So the next time someone tries to drag you down or you think of doing it to someone else stop and think – do you really want to be a lobster?? Because the one thing all the lobsters in the pot have in common is that they all get cooked eventually!
~ Michelle Budiwski
***Originally published on www.butterflyconsultations.com on October 25, 2010 ***