Have you found that even the most optimistic among us begin to falter and slide, when integrity is challenged by the judgement and misunderstanding of others? I have seen this happen to people with great promise, who have been put upon and beaten down by criticism, gossip and fault-finding, usually by those who have not the means, the foresight nor the experience to match the person they are pulling down.
We have all heard of the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” ~ I think it is one of the cruellest and most damaging societal mores known to modern man. There are environments where this is rife and, what always fails to impress me, is that the perpetrators of this type of attitude do not understand that they are damaging their own lives and opportunities through such choices of conduct and nasty-mind behaviour. No one wins when others are made to look like fools. No one wins when winners are pulled down to the ground. No one wins when those who strive to be more and better are pecked at by those who make very ordinary choices for themselves.
When a person is victimised, within the bounds of an environment or group practising such judgemental behaviour, their spirit can become completely crushed. I often wonder what point there is in crushing the spirit of another? Is it somehow for positive gain, or is it coming out of pure evil? I have never understood why anyone on earth would want to pull an excellent performer off their path and potentially damage their chances of reaching their destiny. Why would anyone want to do this to another human being? I can only imagine that some sort of sadistic pleasure keeps such people performing at their own worst, spreading their vile dishonour everywhere they look. This is no way to live … it is not empowering in the least.
The “Tall Poppy Syndrome” experience is one of extremes and yet it is to be found in whole cultures, amongst large groups of people who subscribe to the same attitude, regardless of their geography, seeking ways in which to make themselves look ‘big’ at someone else’s expense. No human being on the planet is made to look better by pulling another human being down … not in politics, not in social media, not in real life anywhere. When people begin to realise that the old adage “what we sow, we reap” is faultless, we might each begin to make better choices.
Argument flees when we realise that lifting others up is the way to see positive results, to reap wonderful rewards, to improve whole environments and cultures even by the words that we choose. However, conversely, when we focus on bringing others down, what we don’t realise is that we slide down with them … and often, in the process, we can destroy whole ‘nations’ by doing this. By total contrast to focus that seeks to destroy, when we turn the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” on its head, people feel valued and the energy shifts. Why would we not wish to do this?
Being valued begins early in each of our lives. A young baby is valued when it is taken care of properly and when each of its needs are met. While babies are nurtured, loved unconditionally, given the nutrition and sleep that they need, they have no reason to scream, to throw tantrums nor to become ‘demanding’, as so many adults are apt to label them. It is hard work being a mother, it is hard work being a father, it is hard to raise a child singly or in partnership, it is hard work being a parent, full stop. However, when parenting is done properly and children are nurtured at and from a young age, by their own parents or by people who care for them as their own, enhanced by the presence of a community of loving others, those children grow into adults who know the meaning of valuing others … at least, they should. These are the children who become the adults who have been given the best start in life.
Whatever has been invested into a child, will be seen later … for better or for worse. Sometimes the latter will need to be addressed, the adult perhaps having to learn to ‘parent’ him- or herself in far better ways than they were parented themselves. In any event, our learning and growing should never stop, and we ought each to always be seeking ways to be our best selves, parented well, better, best or otherwise.
We can start early to instil value into society, simply by focusing on how we raise and how we love our children. Like so many things in life, it is the root and the cause that we need to address first.
During different times in my life, I have seen and been at the mercy of adults who, whilst they have been loved and nurtured in childhood (and beyond), decide to continue the self-centredness of early childhood into their adult years. In the process of being fully focused on themselves, their attitude and behaviour damages all the relationships that they inhabit or influence, causing confusion and levels of disruption wherever they go.
The first point of call for anyone, in any relationship, is respect and out of respect honour flows. Every relationship needs to operate within a framework, a structure that is dependable, for it to be healthy. When we respect others, no matter whether they are older or younger than ourselves, we place honour on their lives and we show them that they are valued. When we are able to value the life of another, irrespective of our involvement or influence in their lives, we are able to allow them to be heard … we find ourselves able to listen, to the merest body language, nuance or word. Out of a place of respect and honour, trust flows. When all three of those elements are in place – respect, honour and trust – one feels valued and, indeed, we feel loved.
It is so important to a person, of any age, to feel that they are ‘heard’ and that they are valued for who they are, as well as whom they might become with the right support and in the right environment for them. Sometimes we are simply in the wrong environment, which makes it impossible to have our voice audible above the clamour of the crowd. Sometimes we might find that we are in danger of losing our own identity in the process of doing our best to be accepted, to be a part of the crowd.
I was taken aback and challenged to come up with a very quick answer recently, when asked by my teenage son “Mum, what do you think is the most important thing that everyone wants in life?” … yet I found myself answering the question after a mere moment of hesitation, taking seconds to consider. My immediate response: “Acceptance”. I think this is it. I think each and every one of us wants to be accepted … and I believe that, when we feel heard, this is exactly what we receive: acceptance. It does not matter if we look different, sound different, have a different background, have different aims and ambitions, have a different income or financial foundation, or create differently in the various aspects of our lives – if we are accepted, we can breathe. If we are accepted, we might even rise above. If we are accepted, we can certainly shine.
Acceptance does not mean the end of all hope or ambition for levels beyond. Acceptance does not mean that we take someone at the level that we meet them and expect them to remain there. Acceptance does not mean that we shrug our shoulders and slot another person into an iron box of our own understanding. Acceptance is the highest form of love. Love is the highest form of grace. Grace is borne out of practising respect, honour, value, trust and acceptance … and more love … a wonderful cycle and golden circle of freedom that keeps a person safe to be, to perform, to shine, and to grow.
Often teenagers are criticised for their attitudes and their behaviour, which I believe is another outrageously unwise way to manage society. Why do so many adults, forgetting the teenagers that they once were, either expect bad behaviour or reinforce it with their words, instead of seeking to model and to be better leaders themselves, learning from their own mistakes and their misguided upbringing? It is never fair to treat a person incorrectly and then to lay the blame at their door, when things go wrong. Yes, teenagers have hormones flooding their bodies and they have a lot to learn, about a lot of things, all at once … but what is the point in making teenagers feel awful about being where they are at, in their natural development?
When we reinforce bad behaviour by our words and blame-laying, we get more of the same. Thus, if we wish to see better outcomes, surely it makes sense to realise that when we replace our negative attitudes with structure and positive empowerment, we alter the lives of our teenagers and more positively impact our own lives at the same time?
In marriage, in friendships, in business, indeed in partnerships of any kind it is imperative that we understand the basic fundamentals of valuing other human beings.
So many people now are settling into the idea of divorce being the name of the game, without seeking to dig out the root causes of this societal catastrophe. When will we learn that we cannot see change until we attack and uproot the very evil that is causing the disease, rather than the disease or the body itself? When will we understand that, if we start from a position of love and acceptance, we can create the environment for an organism, a person, or any entity with life-cells to thrive? It is not a difficult concept to understand, and yet we appear by and large to be oblivious to this very simple and obvious fact.
You cannot plant a tree seed, dry it up with neglect before it has even managed to develop its branches, and then expect it to have ever housed a colony of birds … surely? Analogies from Nature are wonderful … and Jesus used them all the time. It is not difficult to see how easily we can live a life of peace on earth … Einstein is another of my favourites at this, quoting oft that we understand when we can explain something to a very young child. If we can look a child in the eye and lovingly tell them that something is right or it is wrong, knowing one hundred percent that we are nurturing that seed, then we have understood the concept.
All wonderful relationships … be they inter-societal, intercontinental, inter-personal, between business partners, between childhood friends, between shopkeepers and customers, between banks and clients, between governments, between employer and employee … indeed any and every relationship of success … have to be built on fundamental principles of acceptance ~ respect, honour, trust, value and being heard. When these elements are in place and are being constantly honed and improved, we can see harmony result and we can change our worlds.
Every individual knows:
“When I feel heard and valued, I find that I can do amazing things.”
When we feel heard and valued, we increase our loyalty to a cause or a person, and we find that we know full well that we are being treated with value and respect, which nurtures us. There can be nothing more loyal nor heartening, empowering and uplifting to any human being on earth.