Why do we gossip? Why do we pass along detrimental knowledge about someone? What makes us feel the need to tell others about someone’s failure? In my senior community, I watch destructive gossip swirl around me and find myself tempted to contribute. Why do we pass along the observations and criticism that we do?
Unfortunately I have to use an example of a person and circumstance that made me super upset and my continued negative response to that person forced me to look and see why I was mad and what I was doing with my anger. I didn’t like being negative. I didn’t like feeling critical. Why was I doing that and how could I change it?
It’s all a reflection of you
If someone makes you mad, it is because it is a reflection of something you don’t like about yourself.
No one likes to hear that, but it is true. There was much about this woman that was like me. She was acting in a manner that I had in the past. I could see what her mistake was, but she wasn’t interested in what I had learned. She had a burning need to do it her way. There were core things we disagreed on but the bottom line was that she prevented me from doing what I needed to do to fulfill a responsibility I had accepted. There was no compromise from her, only what seemed to me as a very strong need to control.
My response was colored by my beliefs, my needs, and my interpretation
Her position prevented me from doing the job I needed to do in an effective manner. I also thought she was doing her job without meeting the needs of the people she was to serve. My needs were thwarted, my judgmental interpretation was filled with frustration, and what I saw was that she needed to be in control and she was serving as a giant barrier in my path.. She, on the other hand, had simply done the job in a manner that she thought was good and right and helpful. Bummer. I got upset all by myself.
Did I contribute to gossip?
Yes. I shared my frustration and judgmentalness with my friends. Other people were having a difficult time with her actions and responses so we shared our experiences. Why? Did it make us feel righteous, wronged, or justified? Did we need to be heard? Did we feel our ideas didn’t count? Did we need it to be our way? Did we take her actions too personally? Yes, on all counts. That made our gossip destructive whether we meant for it to be or not.
Did I try to resolve it?
I did try to resolve our differences by going directly to her. When that didn’t bring a compromise I went around her to find another way to do my job. My irritation grew along with my judgementalness and my need to pass along my frustration to others. I knew I had to take steps to stop the anger and frustration within myself.
I let go
Letting go works magic. Whatever emotion is coming up, when you feel angry or judgmental, or hurt, let it go. Watch how rapidly all the emotion immediately dissolves. The relief is immediately gratifying. I let go of my need to have her work done a certain way in order to accommodate my job.. I let go of the frustration I had gone through while looking for a way around her so I could do what I was charged with doing. And I stopped participating in negative conversations about her. I couldn’t speak to her. I couldn’t interact with her while I was working to heal myself from within. But I did let go of my anger. I was frustrated. I was judgmental. I wanted to feel that my way was a better way. I began to let that go of all those emotions.
Be aware of the reasons you want to gossip
We gossip for many reasons: to raise our own self-esteem, to feel part of an in-group, maybe even to get back at someone, but gossip is destructive, not to the person you aim it at. Gossip is destructive to you.
Learn to listen
One of her neighbors encouraged her to listen to the criticism that was being voiced about her work. She ultimately asked to meet with some of us who were positions of leadership in order to heal the dissatisfaction and frustration. I don’t know how much she heard of what was said. I don’t know if she understood the needs that needed to be met because she is still wrapped up in her own needs and version of how things should be. We’ll have to see. For my part, I have found my way around her and it will all unfold they way it should.
What you look for you find
If you focus on finding the negative, you’ll find only negative things. You will draw more negativityto your life. You will draw to you people who thrive on negative gossip. Is that what you want in your life? Become conscious of what you say about others and even more importantly, why you say things about others. We all have some major soul-searching to do before we open our mouths to gossip.