Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket, describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” The metaphor refers to a bucket of crabs.
Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the bucket, but instead, they grab at at any one of the crabs who might be able to escape, ensuring their collective demise. The analogy in human behavior is that of a group that will attempt to “pull down” (negate or diminish the importance of) any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, fear, conspiracy, or competitive feelings.
Fear is a big motivator here as it’s the fear of someone else being better than you without you being able to see that you have your own God-given talents and that there is room for everyone to succeed.
The term is broadly associated with short-sighted, non-constructive thinking rather than a unified, long-term, constructive mentality. It is also often used colloquially in reference to individuals or communities attempting to “escape” a so-called “underprivileged life”, but kept from doing so by others attempting to ride upon their coat-tails or those who simply resent their success.
There are all kinds of situations in life where you may run into this and the subculture of the military drill world is not free of the mentality, unfortunately. However, don’t let that discourage you- whatever you do! Keep plugging away at learning and growing- it should never stop!