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Mental Mondays: What Is Tall Poppy Syndrome + How To Deal With It

Mental Mondays: What Is Tall Poppy Syndrome + How To Deal With It



uccess sometimes comes with its fair share of haters. The higher you climb, the more you realize there are eyes of scrutiny waiting for you to trip and fall. This doesn’t accommodate having a nasty attitude because you feel more successful than everyone else. It’s a genuine growth that somehow finds a way to make others feel threatened. This includes coworkers, friends, and even family.
Ever had anyone hate on or criticize you for only being successful? You might have experienced what is called tall poppy syndrome.

What Is Tall Poppy Syndrome?

The tall poppy syndrome is an Australian term that describes a tendency to discredit, segregate, or criticize those who are successful or accomplished for the sake of it. The phenomenon is typically associated with Australian and New Zealand culture, but the concept is found in many societies around the world. A “tall poppy” refers to one who stands out above the rest, like a skyscraper in the countryside. This growth can give rise to the syndrome where some desire to demolish the skyscraper until it is reduced to the level of other buildings in the countryside. Let’s explore this success-phobic syndrome, especially its effects on family, friendships, and relationships.

Obvious signs to help pinpoint the tall poppy syndrome

Photo: Antoni Shkraba/Pexels

Initially, it’s hard to identify whether someone is jealous of a person’s success, especially when they conceal it or show subtle behaviors and attitudes. However, some signs are so telling and convincing that you can’t ignore them. These signs include:

  • Negative comments about successful or accomplished individuals.
  • Discrediting the achievements of others.
  • A tendency to focus on the flaws or weaknesses of successful individuals.
  • Feeling resentful of the success of others.
  • Refusing to acknowledge the hard work or talent of successful individuals.
  • An opinion that all successful people are what they are through illicit means.
  • Gossiping about successful individuals.

How to deal with the tall poppy syndrome

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If you’re experiencing this syndrome in your family or workplace, here are strategies that can be used to address it.

  • Never let it get to you: You’re not at fault if people feel bad about themselves. Remember that it is often driven by the insecurities of others. Raise your head high and don’t take negative comments or criticism personally.
  • Be more focused than ever before: The opinions of others shouldn’t distract you from your goals, especially if they’re hating on you. Keep working hard and stay focused on what you want to achieve.

  • Build a support system: Find friends and colleagues who are supportive of your accomplishments, aren’t insecure about their weaknesses, and will encourage you to stay striving for success.
  • Take care of yourself: Self-care can help you stay resilient in the face of criticism or negativity. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, and engage in activities that bring you surplus joy.
  • Face your critics, but do it wisely: If you have someone exhibiting the tall poppy syndrome aggressively, address them directly. Calmly and respectfully explain how their behavior affects you, and ask them to stop.

How to know if you’re giving off Tall Poppy Syndrome

Photo: Christina Morillo/Pexels
  • Focusing on the flaws or weaknesses of successful individuals
  • Criticizing or belittling the accomplishments of others, whether big or small.
  • Resentment towards the success of others.
  • Refusing to acknowledge the hard work or talent of successful individuals.

The effects on family and friends

The tall poppy syndrome harms relationships with family and friends. When someone we love achieves success, it’s natural to feel happy for them and proud of what they’ve accomplished. However, if you’re struggling with your sense of self-worth, you may find yourself feeling resentful or jealous of their success. This creates tension and conflict in our relationships, and in turn, damages our ability to form healthy connections with others.

How to quit being green with envy

Photo: Christina Morillo/Pexels

Jealousy and envy prevent our minds from learning and replicating what we should have originally appreciated. If you’re struggling with these feelings, we’ve gathered some tips to help you quit and find satisfaction in yourself while growing and striving:

  • Be grateful for what you have: Focusing on gratitude can help shift your perspective and make it easier to appreciate the success of others. It’s far easier to attract what you love and appreciate than what you detest in others.
  • Filter negative thoughts: When you find yourself thinking negatively about someone else’s achievements, challenge them. Ask yourself why you’re feeling this way and whether your thoughts are based on reality. Remember that their hard work has benefited them and your time is surely coming.
  • Be genuinely happy for others: Make an effort to celebrate the accomplishments of others. This shifts your focus away from your insecurities and low self-esteem. You also learn to build positive connections with these successful individuals and learn from them.
  • Give yourself your best and your hardest: Instead of comparing yourself to others and feeling bad about what you haven’t accomplished, work hard on your own goals. Keep in mind that success is a journey and everyone’s route is different.

Featured image: nicoletaionescu/iStock

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