Stigma Can Hack At Us, But We Don’t Have To Lose Our Heads Over It

City of Canterbury budget 2010−2011 072a

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A few days ago we wrote a blog-post entitled “Be A Tall Poppy.”  I had more than one person ask in comments and in person, what the —-! did that mean!

Why a poppy?  Why discriminate against the many other lovely but apparently unapplauded flora of the world?

What does it mean to “be a tall poppy?”

This referenced the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” of Anglosphere nations.  It tells us that culturally people who wear their accomplishments openly and indiscreetly invoke jealousy in others who then correctively cut the “tall poppy’s” down.

No offense to other buds around the globe, but when we say, “Be a tall poppy,” we say be yourself without the “discretion” of hiding your beauty – flaws and desired traits included.

We probably can’t change cultural opinion much if we don’t work with our own feelings of possible social rejection of making these changes in ourselves.  Being a tall poppy means that we will not be reduced by stigma and other forces; we stand tall and live.

In our blog-post Paging A Testimony, Nancy told us about her discomfort with the response of others to the way her improving health demonstrates itself and changes the dynamics of their relationship.  The balance of energy, power and involvement between her and others is in flux.  Her courage of prevailing through can be coined with, “Nancy is a tall poppy.”

Way to go Nancy!  Stand.  Cowing to those negative emotions is the same as cutting the poppy’s head off and stem left short.  Feel the tension, but stand.  Be present with your emotional responses.  Stand tall.

Self-Care Tip #279 – Be present with your emotional responses.  Stand tall.

Go Toward Mental Illness and Take It To The Floor

Sean and Cheryl: Drama on the dance floor

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Self-Care Tip #155 – Go toward the real issue.  Be a friend to yourself.

Little woman, she had pinched toes in her four-inch heals and wonder what her size has done for her.  Mindy was anxious.  Even though I wonder about her stressors, like possibly her height and the history she is telling me, I know something else.  Even though I wonder about her parenting and marital stressors, and about growing up in a small town but now living with giants, I don’t wonder what she thinks.  Mindy describes these giants as people with large accomplishments, things she would not try herself and that means something to her, but not what she thinks it does.  Mindy wanted to see how things went.  Apparently six months of this wasn’t long enough.

We could spend the next five years breaking all this up and apart and tossing it like a cranberry salad.  But Mindy’s anxiety is mostly not about the salad of life.  Mindy’s feelings are a bit about the stressors and a lot about her brain.

Mental illness is not a small thing.  We trim it down when we say otherwise.  The unfavored sister, Mental Illness isn’t spoken to much at the table.  Her more popular sisters, Stress and Life-Triggers, get a lot of the attention.

With some effort, people who once worked around Mental Illness like it was barely there take a chance and go straight at it, full charge, and swing that woman onto the ballroom floor.

I went for that dance with Mindy.  And she wasn’t talking about waiting and seeing how things went for long.  I told her, like I’ve told you, that how we feel and interpret our stressors comes from our brain.  I told her that mental illness gets worse if it isn’t treated and treated to as full a response as possible.

We weren’t talking about life stressors at that point.  We were talking about her medical condition.  Once treated, Mindy will continue to have life stressors.  We will hopefully also see however, that she responds to life stressors differently.

Question:  How do you make sense of the seemingly meaningfulness of how stress affects us with the seemingly less meaningful concept that we feel that way because of our brain and not because of the stress?  Please tell me your story.