After Heath Ledger died, I first heard the Australian idiom, "Cutting down the tall poppy" during a t.v. special about his life. This tall poppy syndrome is a "pattern of behaviour where people who stand out from the crowd because of exceptional skill or ability (the “tall poppies”) get “cut down to size” by their peers. It’s the tendency in human beings to criticise or sabotage those who are more successful than others"*. Heath Ledger was a victim of this "tall poppy syndrome" when he returned to his native country of Australia for a movie premier, and on other occasions.
How often do we cut down the tall poppy? Sometimes we cut down the tall poppy outloud with criticism, or more often, silently in our thoughts. Is there someone in your life (a friend, relative or acquaintance) that seems happy, talented, beautiful or successful, and, for whatever reason, you wish they weren't? Or is there a public figure you feel that way about?
What kind of negative feelings take up residence in our soul when we allow ourselves feel that way? Jealousy? Insecurity? Bitterness? Resentment? A hard heart? Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent". Take a second to think if you ever have those feelings about a certain person ~ you may have never even mentioned it to anyone else.
What does it reveal to others about ourselves when we criticize? Perhaps the same things. That we are jealous, insecure, bitter, resentful or heard hearted. We seem to be demonstrating the childish behavior, "If I can't have it, neither can you". What happens to our heart when we feel this way? It seems to shrink to the size of a pea, just like the Grinch's heart in one part of Dr. Seuss' story, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
How can we change? Be glad for the happiness of others! That is the first positive thing we can do toward the successful, talented people we know or observe. If someone is experiencing success, or JOY, try sharing in that joy with them. The word 'rejoice' (re-JOY'ce), means to "again/ be glad". The Latin prefix "re" means 'again'. So, try sharing 'again' with someone's joy. Pay them a compliment, or just tell them how happy you are for their success. Tell someone else about their success. Or, just THINK about how happy you are for them, and treat them accordingly. You may surprise yourself when your heart softens and you make room for love and acceptance. It's a GREAT feeling (as you know). Second, pay attention to the tendency to cut down the tall poppy. When you start down that bitter road, just turn around and choose the higher road ~ choosing to share in the joy they are feeling.
What does this have to do with HOPE? If negative thoughts are taking up all the space in your thoughts at any given moment, there's no room for hope at that moment. I'm a firm believer in kicking out the negative stuff in my soul to make room for hope, positive feelings and positive thoughts. In other words, out with the bad, in with the good. If we need more hope to help us deal with challenges, we need all the room we can create in our minds, bodies and spirits. Rejoicing with people instead of cutting them down is a big step. When we create that sacred space in ourselves, it miraculously fills up with:
*Acceptance ~ of others and ourselves.
*Love ~ of others and ourselves.
*Peacefulness ~ we feel at peace with what we have been given, and with our better choices.
*Faith ~ that Jesus Christ knows how we feel, and blesses us when we choose the better path.
*Hope ~ that Christ, who continues to stand out from all others, forgives us and always gives us a second chance to improve. He was "cut down" and chose to love those who were against Him. He continues to love all of us, and He rejoices with all of us when we choose that higher road. Always.
* "Tall Poppy Syndrome", by John van de Laar