Welp, I am officially home for the holidays. I drove back last night and thankfully the weather wasn’t too bad. Classes are finally over and I have nothing school-related I can even think about doing, and I have a lot of time to reflect, which is exactly what I have been doing.
Something I have been thinking a lot about is the type of people I surround myself with and what makes me happy or unhappy when I am around these people. Something I have noticed is the level of gossiping and complaining taking place. And I have noticed that I’ve taken part in quite a bit of gossip with my friends and even family during my life, and I’ve been thinking about how this type of engagement has made me feel and what other effects it has had on my life.
Which is what leads me to this post. I’ve recently stopped engaging in gossip and it has changed my life. I want to talk to you about WHY gossip is so harmful for us, HOW I’ve managed to disengage, and HOW is has affected my life.
This is the ONE thing it took to make my life more positive and overall happy: humility.
Humility means that we think less of our own importance and are modest about who we are as people. This is why gossiping is a key way to practice humility: gossiping is meant to belittle someone else and in turn makes ourselves look larger. When we choose to avoid gossip in situations where the opportunity presents itself, we choose kindness and humility.
WHAT ULTIMATELY MAKES GOSSIP BAD?
- Let me start by saying that, yes, gossip is ALWAYS bad. “Being honest” is different than gossip, or being unkind. “Being honest” is not a justification for gossiping. If you believe that there is something that a person needs to hear about his or her actions or attitude, then of COURSE it is alright to try to tell them – but in a constructive way that is rooted in the right intentions (to change their actions in a way that will positively impact this person and/or a person they are hurting in whatever way). This is kind. It is NOT kind to complain and gossip about this person’s actions behind their back. This helps no one, except your own ego.
- Anyway, what makes gossip bad: It’s not productive. When you gossip, all you are doing is releasing bad energy into the conversation and into people’s mentality. It does not fix whatever you are gossiping about and it does not improve your own quality of life.
- It’s harmful to someone else. Gossiping belittles another person. Whether you are gossiping about the lifestyle someone is living since high school that is “sooo below what you’ve been up to”, talking about something you heard someone did that may or may not be true, or complaining about something someone did – you are talking about them in a way that is simply unkind, and creates unnecessary bad vibes between them and the person you are gossiping with.
- It gets around. People like to gossip. It is a large portion of interactions held on a day-to-day basis, we all know that. When you say something gossipy, there is a good chance it will be told again by the person you gossiped to. Again, this only increases people’s negative energy and is not productive. This could also come back to hit you in the face. In fact, we can all probably think of a time where we have said something negative about another person and they ultimately found out, or it caused other people to think less of us for gossiping in the first place.
- It falsely exalts our own sense of self. Usually, we are gossiping because it makes us feel a little better about ourselves. I am a pretty insecure person, and I have started to realize that I have been so involved in gossip and having gossipy people in my life because I felt that this type of engagement was building me up and making me look better. This is not true, even if it feels like it may be. We feel like we are in a position of power when we can freely talk bad about someone else and in turn make ourselves seem “right” and the other person “wrong”. However, what you say about someone else really only reflects on yourself and a lack of self-esteem. Your ego may be falsely built up, but ultimately, your self-esteem is what will determine your actions and feelings, and that is something to keep in the forefront of your mind.
HOW TO ESCAPE THE ROUTINE OF SOCIAL GOSSIPING
- This is the tricky part. If we are used to gossiping with our friends, this can be difficult and even awkward to stop taking part in. But, if you keep up a mentality of wanting to be a kinder person, preserve someone else’s dignity, and improve your own life overall, you gotta do what you gotta do!
- Think of conversation topics beforehand, if possible. When you are used to extensive gossiping, it might be tricky just to think of what to talk about when you are with someone. Try to think of productive topics, like about your own life or your friend’s life, your goals, that great new movie that came out or that you want to see, the list can go on and on and on, depending on your interests! Gossip is easy, but being kind is also easy, if we put our minds to it. Having a more positive conversation also, in turn, makes us feel more happy and positive.
- When a gossipy comment is made, reply with compassion for the person of subject. Even if you don’t like the person brought up, find compassion for their actions or situation. If they wronged the gossiper in some way, reply with an encouraging way for this person to handle the situation, instead of continuing to rag on the person being talked about. If they are gossiping about someone in regards to their lifestyle or belittling their choices, etc., defend the subject by finding compassion for their situation, and remembering to be modest about how you consider your own life compared to theirs. I know this explanation may be a bit confusing to read, but it was ultimately inspired by a video made by Tessa Violet that I watched several months ago that I thought really hit the nail on the head (and also explained this idea much better than I did). I really encourage you to go watch that video here.
- When you feel the urge to gossip, stop and work through your feelings. Why are you feeling something negative about this person? It is because they wronged you? Consider how they wronged you, accept that it hurt you, reflect on why it hurt you, consider addressing them directly about it, and move on. Wa-la, you have worked through your feelings in a productive manner. If you feel the urge to gossip about someone because you find their actions or life choices may make your friends laugh and make you feel better about your own situations, etc., reflect on your own humility and whether or not you are thinking and acting in an arrogant way. It can hard to face this conviction of ourselves, but it is essential when striving to be humble. Check your privilege, and realize that your choices and situations are unique to you, and also are not the right path for everyone else. “Everyone is just doing the best they can,” – a quote you will hear Tessa say if you watch the link I have left for you in the previous bullet point. Seriously, watch the video.
- Consider separating from a particularly gossipy friend. Sometimes, we just need to face the reality that there might be negative people in our lives that it would be best for us to gracefully part with. We are better off socializing with people who build us up and encourage us, rather than tear us, and/or other people, down. You can’t force kindness onto other people – they must choose it for themselves. And some people simply just don’t choose this.
HOW NOT GOSSIPING ANYMORE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE
- Because I mean it when I say that it’s changed my life.
- Life simply becomes easier. I’m not talking about people badly or engaging in this type of conversation, and in turn not creating a web of gossip and he-said-she-said. My relationships with others are less complicated because no one worries that I’m talking about them behind their backs, and I don’t have to worry about something I’ve said coming back to bite me in the ass. And trust me, I have done my deal of gossiping in the past, and have experienced the paranoia of my own gossip coming back up or being overshared. I don’t have to feel that paranoia anymore.
- My relationships with others are healthier. I have a healthier mindset that allows me to scout out healthier relationships. I have determined which friends are bored by my sudden lack of gossip, in which case I know that this may not be a healthy relationship for me to continue. I also have healthier engagements with anyone in general because I know that I can work through any negative vibes I may get from them, and I don’t have to experience any guilt for wrongly gossiping about someone. This sounds selfish, but when you stop gossiping for the real purpose of being kinder, you just don’t have to feel any guilt or awkwardness when engaging with someone you previously might have gossiped about.
- I think more positive thoughts. Instead of storing things in my brain that I can later gossip to my friends about, I am feeling more compassion and understanding towards people who may hurt me or choose to live differently than me. Therefore I am choosing to fill my mind with constructive thoughts about my own feelings towards someone, and choosing kindness rather than complaining as my mindset.
- And finally, my self-esteem has improved. When I am not tearing other people down to build myself up, I am instead seeking a more productive and stable foundation to build my sense of self on. I used to scoff at others whose lifestyles I thought were “below” what I was doing with my life, or were “lower” aspirations, etc. This gave me a false sense of ego, as I have mentioned, which reflected to me how insecure I really was. Now, I accept that my life and my choices are different from others, not better. This lets me be thankful for my own situation, and lets me be happy for others in their accomplishments, which are neither above or below mine. This has let my self-esteem grow immensely, and I feel I am a more secure person overall.
I don’t think I have ever really considered how harmfully gossiping was impacting my life until I started paying attention to people who didn’t gossip. They seemed more secure in their relationships and lives, so I decided to give it a try, and I honestly feel the best I think that I ever have. This is why I believe humility is the key to positive thinking and a happier life. It never hurts to be kind.
Talk to you beautiful people soon. -Jaycee