The Crawdad Syndrome

Have you ever heard of this? I first heard the phrase Crawdad Syndrome years ago from an African American preacher who used this phrase to illustrate the way a bunch of crawdads in a bucket compare to the African American culture.  Every time a crawdad starts to climb out of the bucket the others, in their effort to escape, pull him back down. I can see that.  I think it goes beyond the black culture though.  I think we all experience this at times in our lives.  I know I have been both of the crawdads, the one on top and the one pulling another down.  Not proud of that, just the real truth. 

We envy, we have jealousy, we are stubborn, we are narrow minded, we live life for us, we are insecure and I have to say, sometimes we are just stupid. I think in weight loss this can be a problem. If you are the luckiest person in a perfect world, you have a truly supportive group to bolster you and push you out of that bucket.  In a perfect world everyone would say the right things, do the right things, encourage us, support us, help us, give us everything we need for success.  Lets face it, if that were the world we lived in, we would be the only ones happy. In truth, free will and individualism means we all act in our own best interest at least part of the time. Where my best interest stops always overlaps where yours starts.  That is life - the non perfect version. None of us are the luckiest person in a perfect world - we live in the real world.

Somewhere between best case scenario that is unrealistic and worst case which is all out annihilation  there is that sneaky crawfish syndrome where knowingly or not, we sabotage others' success and other people sabotage us. And worst of the worst is when we sabotage ourselves.

The hardest thing in my journey are the times when I feel like my success makes others feel threatened.  I hate that feeling. If I tell you I got a promotion are you upset?  If I get ahead in life do you feel like I am acting like a big shot and for some reason you have to put me down? Some people feel like life is a competition.  I feel like life is a journey - the only person I try to compete against is me. If something happens in your life and it brings you joy or goodness - does that cost me anything?  Heck no and if it does - that's my problem - not yours. If you are having a great time and I am in a bad mood do I need to step on you and try to crush your spirit?  Heck no. If I like peas and you like carrots and the restaurant only serves peas does that mean we can't share a meal together?  Of course not.

So how to climb out even when you feel the pull of others? I think first of all you (I) have to accept the fact that people are human and they have their own agendas and frailties and broken parts.  Hit the ignore button when possible.  Ignore, ignore, ignore.  If you can talk about it and work it out - do the work, it may be a growing time for everyone.  If not realize that you (I) have just as much right to success and happiness as anyone else and if that hurts someone, angers someone, frustrates someone, makes someone feel inadequate, makes someone feel a need to put you down, if someone feels slighted, damaged, envious or jealous you (I) must realize that is a problem only they can work out.  As long as I am not being arrogant or braggadocios then if you care about me your response to my success should only be to share my joy. It's that simple and if I have that wrong someone slap me with the truth, please.

This is the simple world I want to live in.  This is the cloud where I want to sit above the pettiness and unfair judgments and envy of others. To lose weight I have to break free of the mental patterns that put me in position to abuse food and abuse my body.  I must always return to my cloud and ignore the disdain of those who feel slighted by any success I have.

I am so thankful for my warriors in the bucket!  There are truly some folks who stand beneath me (my husband being one of those) and push me, encourage me and rally me toward success.  My children too, they never let me see their hurt or disappointment, if they have any, that their mom let herself go, but they sure encourage me to keep moving out of this bucket.  My dear mom who sends me recipes and has made great success in her weight loss over the years is always encouraging and reminding me to hang in there.  I am not without encouragement. 

Last but not least, I want to be the encourager in the bucket too.  Letting others stand on my shoulders to help them climb out or giving them a push or pep talk when they need it.  Whether it is weight loss or some other success in life, I do not want to be that negative person who resents or envies someone else's joy or success. No matter what it is.  Period.

I don't want to be a part of the syndrome - I want to share the success.

That's all ~ Thanks y'all!


  1. Thank you for this post,i t hit the nail on the head. After working so hard to lose 100 pounds I got such negative kickback from people I never expected. It weakened my resolve and I regained 20 pounds. This topic is rarely talked about but is quite common. I will ge a regular reader of your blog while I ignore the haters and work on myself.

    1. Validation!!!! Thank you! I know, we know it's out there but so nice to hear someone else who has had the same experience. It is sad and for me it is tough to handle but I believe it is crucial to ignore them. I am so glad to hear from you.


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