The Art of Gossip
“Those who gossip with you will gossip about you…” This quote, along with many others, relate the age old art that we have all engaged in from time to time. So why do we do it? Why do we feel bad after we do it? And why do we continue to do it even though we know that it is not a good thing to do? We gossip for many reasons.
We typically see this with teenagers. If people are not involved in a common goal, they tend to try to find one for connection. However, this connection may not always be a healthy one, and gossiping finds its way in. To feel included, try and find healthy activities that involve physical and psychological components and everyone joining together for one common goal. Perhaps raise money for a cause like Night To Shine, or do a race as a team (Spartan Race) to help in feeling like you are connected. Common goals help in avoiding gossip from rearing its ugly head.
My wife always tells the kids “Blowing out someone else's candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.” We all have that little green monster called envy that appears. It happens to the best of us. People gossip about those whose lifestyles they envy. Any time you start to feel jealousy or envy creep in, ask yourself what steps can I take to be more like that person? If they are a faster runner, get out there and train. Take the necessary steps to better yourself instead of putting that other person down with gossip. Make yourself a better person, and turn that envy into self-admiration!
The Power Trip
When someone confides with you the deepest darkest secret that you are sworn to take to the grave, you may be tempted to tell others about the situation. Why? Because you feel a sense of power that you know something nobody else knows about the person. You may be craving attention from others or want to feel important. Either way, your potential to gossip goes up when you are holding a powerful secret. Take the higher road and keep your word.
Gossip is Lying
When we lie, we deceive other people (and ourselves) for various reasons. We lie to save face, to protect others from harm, and to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. We may gossip for the same reasons since gossiping is a form of lying. If we gossip about a person, and then see that same person and are nice and cordial, we are lying. Lying can destroy our psychological states and create a situation that is detrimental known as cognitive dissonance.
This is a state of psychological stress where you hold two beliefs about a person or situation, and this causes our brains to rapidly move from one position to another, causing anxiety. This is the situation that occurs when we gossip. We say something about a person behind their backs; then we see the person and do not reveal what we are truly thinking. Gossiping, just like anything else, can become a habit where we spiral down into cynicism and sarcasm, dragging everyone else around us down with us. What we say and how we say things have powerful implications to those around us. The wise saying to think before you speak comes to mind. What will be the interpretation of what you are about to say? Will the person receiving your message interpret it as a negative message? Are you gossiping about someone or what you are about to say something you would say to their face?
We Gossip to Feed our Ego
Our egos drive us to gossip. Our egos feed off of pumping ourselves up by talking badly about others behind their backs. We gossip because it makes us feel better about ourselves, in the short term. One of the most powerful things that you can do to feed the ego is gossip. When you gossip, you pump yourself up by talking badly about someone who is not their to defend themselves. The ego is protected by time and space. If the person were there to defend themselves, then your ego could be threatened or damaged. Gossiping is the safest way to feed your ego, especially when someone is there to listen and even agree with your musings. Feeding your ego is easy. Starving the ego is even easier. Switch from a position of gossip to a position of gratitude or non-thinking. Perhaps you can write in gossiping as part of your personal creed. You may refer back to your creed everyday in order to stop gossiping in its tracks. I find that living in the moment and concentrating on the environment around us helps us not to gossip about others. If you are with someone else, change the topic of the conversation or simply tell the other person that you are working on not gossiping.
Recently, I decided to talk badly about someone behind their backs who had been pissing me off for a long time. I don’t usually fall into the gossip trap but I did that day. I can’t describe how badly I felt after the gossip session. It felt like I had betrayed the other person and thought about all the good things that the person had done for me over the years. I gossiped perhaps to feel better about myself and to feed my ego with inflating platitudes? Gossiping is wrong and should be avoided.
Pay attention to your gossiping this week. Notice yourself when you are about to gossip and use the tips from this article to counter the action. I firmly believe that if you eliminate gossip from your life, you will eliminate stress and negative energy that causes you to be unhappy. Write down in a notebook every time you feel jealousy this week. Write down exactly why you are jealous of that person and take steps immediately to better yourself or improve your position to avoid envy and gossip from entering into your life. Eliminating gossip is a sure recipe to happiness and attracting the positive energy of others.
“Lean into it!”