Years ago I heard someone talking about “The Tall Poppy Syndrome.” It was described to me as the way that we will make ourselves small; how it is that we will measure out just how far we will stick out beyond others. Always with an eye, consciously or unconsciously, to not get too big.
Why do we do this? Why do we minimize the truth of who we are and what it is that we do, want, or believe in? Why do we fear recrimination when we have done or created something positive in our lives or in the life of the world? Why do we suffer comments made by others, and even ourselves, the very ones that are meant to put us back in our place, without refuting the harmful put down? Why do we allow “what will they think?” to run the show? Why do we submit to the experience of “otherness” in our thinking and let that dictate how much we believe we can be? Or do. Or want.
This has come into full relief for me over the past week during a cleanse I have been doing with others. This is my first experience at this, and as such I was expecting what others had described to me; headaches, skin eruptions, trouble eliminating, cravings, dulled appetite, difficult emotions to wrestle with. And yet, not one bit of that has been my experience. In fact, it has been just the opposite. I have felt energized, clear, and optimistic. Excepting for Wednesday of this week; affectionately referred to by our leader as “hump day.”
It was on this day that I decided to email back the leader describing that surprisingly enough I had been feeling great; really vibrant and aligned mentally,emotionally, and physically. It felt like a good choice at the time to contact her. I, too, wanted to be part of the email exchange, even though I did not have difficult things to report. Prior to this day, I had been holding back because it seemed like maybe there was no place for my “positive” experience. This was my attempt to break through this feeling of self-imposed isolation. Only, shortly after I sent the email, I felt a vulnerability attack come over me. Why did I send that? I should never have done that. She’s going to be mad at me, or think I believe I am better than everyone else because I am not struggling.
This went on for a bit and then turned into the wildest mental food cravings; fried food, peanut butter cups, cup cakes, pizza. All the things I was going to eat as soon as I could once the cleanse was over. To hell with all the work. I just couldn’t wait to get to all of this food. At one point, though, a little wondering came in. What happened, I thought. How did I go from no struggle with food cravings to an all out orgy in my mind? Then it hit me. This was my unconscious attempt to dull myself down to fit in so that I wouldn’t be excluded or judged. And behind that was my fear that it was not safe for me to be OK while others were not. Truth be, it went even further than that and right into; Do I have a right to my own brilliance?
As soon as I had this realization, the orgy thoughts immediately went away and I was back to feeling good again. It really does pose a couple of very serious questions for us as human beings living and interacting with one another, as well as human beings here to express the truth and totality of who we truly are. “Just how far will we go to not stick out, to dim our light, to top ourselves off? Just how far will we go to keep others in their place; not allowing them to grow beyond us?”
If we have any hope of being happy and fulfilled individually, and if we have any hope collectively of living together here on the earth in harmony, and with an eye towards making things better for all of us, we truly need to figure this one out. Right now, more than anything else, we need for the tallest poppies in all of us to grow up and step forward.