Tall Poppy Syndrome and the Fear of Judgment

Tall PoppyThis past week I wrote about Tall Poppy Syndrome on my Facebook Page, and it had some surprising reactions. I thought to share my thoughts here too, in case it meant something to you.

Are you familiar with “Tall Poppy Syndrome”?

It’s something like – someone in your community stands out and shines their Light. It could be you. And the others around this person tries to ‘chop them down’ to size. I knew it was common in Australia, and then some people commented on my post to say they find it happens in Canada and the UK, too.

The hidden message behind that is “Don’t shine! Don’t stand out! You’re not better than anyone else – who do you think you are?”

I’ve often found introverts I work with are afraid of standing out or being visible. And behind that, is usually fear of judgment or criticism. Because, we HAVE been judged or criticized in the past – and it HURT. The subconscious mind remembers that! And wants to protect you from further hurt, by not letting you venture into that territory again.

What does that mean in our lives?

For one, it can make us afraid to share our work with the world. That in turn prevents people who could benefit from our work, to gain those benefits. Plus of course, we don’t earn an income, can’t sustain ourselves and our families – and therefore suffer financially.

We have some choices here, if that’s true for you.

1. Work on that big fear of judgment and criticism with a tool like EFT.

And I don’t mean one little tapping session. I mean consistently. Find the roots of this fear – it’s in childhood somewhere – and keep clearing out those events that caused you to fear failure. It might be very early on, before the age of 6 – and it could involve a simple thing like a Dad’s disapproving look, or humiliation somewhere where you made a mistake.

It WILL gradually eliminate that fear and you’ll start to notice yourself behave in less fearful ways. You’ll be able to share your work and your gifts with the world without that constant fear-companion. You’ll be able to ‘shine’ for the sheer joy of just being your authentic self, and doing what you came here to do.

2. LIFT them up:

LIFT those ‘shorter poppies’ around you so they, too, can be taller. So that they, too, can start believing in their own gifts and strengths. That means they won’t be so afraid to be ‘left behind’ by the Taller Poppies and we can all relax.
How do we do that?
Do you know any ‘short poppies’ around you?
1. Start by asking them about their own gifts and strengths.
2. Encourage them to focus on their own good points.
3. Do you know the gifts of your colleagues, friends, family? Have you ever tried to ask them what their strengths are and what they best love doing? What comes super-easy and naturally to them?

3. Find supportive circles:

If you’re the poppy who has been chopped down, find a different circle of poppies, where you FEEL lifted up and encouraged. Where ‘success’ does not threaten those around you. Susan Schoening, a beautiful friend and creator of The Soul Lighthouse, says “Find friends and groups who are performing at the level you want to perform at, and they will help you to raise your bar. Always, always, LEVEL UP, not down, or even sideways.”

Beautiful – thanks Sue!

When people feel lifted up and encouraged in our presence, there is no need for them to ‘chop down the tall poppies’.

Well, actually that might not be true. It’s MORE true that we cannot know what needs others have. Perhaps they STILL have the need to be critical and judgmental about others around them who shine brighter than they’d like…. and that is exactly why we need to work on our OWN responses to criticism and judgment.

I’ts not our place to tell others how to behave, what to think and feel. Give others the right to their experience. And if their experience bothers us, and makes us feel smaller in any way, that’s the time for our trusty tools like EFT, The Sedona Method and other ways to process our past hurts that are still triggered.

It might be an idea to be the tall poppy that helps others to shine, too! And, if that’s not comfortable yet, you know where to look. Inside, is the only place where we can effect change.

Do you fear judgment, criticism, visibility or standing out?

I’d love to hear from you. You can share by commenting on the post below, emailing me, or if you’d rather have a short conversation, in the New Year I’m offering a few 20-minute “Confident Visibility-Conversations” free of charge.

Liesel Teversham
Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.

She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.

Click here to read about the book.

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