It got back to me recently that people were talking about me in two separate situations. It was a double-hitter.
Neither situation (one where something I said was misunderstood, and one where something I did was not approved of) was particularly terrible; but nonetheless, I felt awful. I felt sideswiped. But mostly, my feelings were hurt.
Doesn’t everybody know I mean well?
Doesn’t everybody know I would never deliberately hurt or insult them?
It was humbling to learn that this was not the case, and that people don’t always give you the benefit of the doubt.
Of course, I’ve been guilty of gossiping although I must say, in general, it’s not my thing. I live by the do onto others rule and I don’t like it, no I really don’t like it, when others talk about me pejoratively so I don’t approve of talking about them.
Please forgive the twelve year-old girl inside me who gets wounded when others talk about her. This is a muscle I need to work because staying up all night ruminating my defense, and how what I said was taken out of context, is not healthy or productive. And at 3 am it is irrelevant that gossip often reveals more about the person who is gossiping than the person who is being talked about.
There is a Jewish principle— La shon hara, which means one is prohibited, according to the bible, from evil talk. Starting rumors, true or false, is forbidden.
But in tight-knit communities, even Jewish ones, and in the world at-large, gossip is currency. It makes people feel powerful.
And there are other reasons people gossip as well…
We are social beings and gossip creates an alliance or a bond with someone else, which makes people feel happier. Gossiping boosts our levels of positive hormones like serotonin, which reduces stress and anxiety.
But gossip can be extremely harmful:
*It often spreads non-truths and distortions.
*Reputations can be ruined.
*It produces a false sense of superiority.
*It excludes because it creates “us and them”.
*It promotes “Group Think” or “Herd Mentality.” (In small communities gossip is sometimes used to incite fear in order to maintain the status quo and promote conformity.)
*And it hurts people’s feelings!!!
I will say this— I kept reviewing the two scenarios in my head, over and over again. I kept getting that uncomfortable feeling inside me, you know the one when you’re going about your day but underneath there is the feeling that something is wrong. It was the discomfort in knowing that people were talking about me.
I couldn’t shake it.
Until I sat down and wrote about it. I scribbled these thoughts in a mad rush. And then, poof, all the negativity and weight were gone.
It was somewhat miraculous.
And so I’ll end this post with three pieces of advice.
- Consider Brene Brown’s Marble Jar– If you have a relationship with someone, don’t judge them on one action. Keep in mind all of who they are, and all of what they do, before you criticize or judge.
2. Write- It’s important we get our feelings out and that we don’t let them fester inside. Journaling (i.e. Morning Pages) is not only a cleansing process but helps to give clarity and perspective on the issues in your life.