A beautiful soul wrote to me and asked,
Can you please share some words on gossip? How easy it is to let slip a comment (or several) that is no ones business. I am having a major morale hangover because in a totally unconscious moment, that is exactly what I did.
Gossip is something so many of us do without realizing it. For years, I thought gossip was only making something up or spreading rumors about people – that it wasn't gossip if it was true (no matter how negative!) How hilarious our egos can be with their tricks and outright lies. I am grateful now to know that all talk that isn’t “my business” is gossip, and it hurts me much more than it affects the person being spoken about.
What Is Gossip?
“Gossip seems harmless on the surface, but it can cause a lot of negative things in people’s lives. Gossip is not giving love. Gossip is giving negativity and that’s exactly what you receive back. Gossip is not harmful to the person who is being spoken of; gossip harms those gossiping!” -Rhonda Byrne, The Power
Gossip is talking about other people and their lives. “Their business” is none of our business. When we share something about someone else’s life, it not only brings us out of the present, but it brings the energy of that story into our lives. (Whatever story you’re telling about someone else is making that story true in your own life.)
Gossip is also listening to stories about other people. We take an active role in what we listen to and how we align ourselves with what is being said. If we listen to gossip or even encourage it, we are absolutely gossiping.
All gossip, whether you believe it to be “true” or not, is a story. What a blessing to not have to carry that story, and bring it into the present. The truth is, you have no idea what someone’s real motives are/were. You have no idea what really happened. All the past is a story that can be told a number of ways! Why bother with all that untruth, all those stories when you have the beauty and presence and power of this moment?
When I first began recognizing the fact that other people’s stories aren’t my business, I wondered what I would talk about with people! How can I relate to others?
I have to tell you, not gossiping has made me a much better communicator. Here’s why:
- Now, when I am listening to someone talk (usually telling me a story about themselves) instead of thinking about a story I can tell in response, I’m just listening.
- When I respond to them, I respond in the moment. I find myself saying, “I hear you. I can see how that would be incredibly painful.” Or, “I’m so excited for you! I can hear how thrilled you are!” I’m able to be fully present to their experience and story.
- When I do tell a story in response, it’s from personal experience (just like this post is) instead of a secondhand story that may or may not be true. Occasionally, I’ve said, “I am so sorry, I can’t even begin to guess what that’s like.” And my response is more honest and connected than if I’d said, “Wow, I had another friend who experienced the same thing…” which is usually unwelcome and irrelevant to the person I’m talking to.
- I’m able to communicate more clearly. Many times, when people are “telling stories” there are misunderstandings, miscommunications, missed meanings. I’ve found that by staying in a conversation now and not dragging in any stories, I can listen clearly, speak compassionately, and eliminate anything that is not present and relevant.
- When someone gossips with me, I am mindful of the fact that they’re gossiping, and can turn the conversation back to love. Have you noticed that gossip begets gossip? Previously, when I heard someone telling a story about someone else, I would want to “chime in” with my own story about that person. Now, I steer us back to something present, mindful, and fun. There’s usually something in the story that the person is feeling (angry, jealous, afraid, etc) that I can respond with compassion to, instead of focusing on the story itself.
We are still human, living in a very gossip-heavy world. When you succumb to the negativity and have a “morale hangover” about it, don’t beat yourself up! You have a very powerful tool (this moment) to change the way you feel.
“Gossip Hangover” Prescription:
1. Be grateful that you are on a beautiful path of unfolding, and are conscious enough to recognize when your actions are not loving. Many are not yet on this path- many are still bound by gossip, negativity and pain, and don’t even realize they are.
2. Be grateful that you are taking responsibility for your actions and words in this moment, regardless of what “slipped” or what choices you made in the past. All you have is now. We are powerful in this moment. We are aware now. That is all we can ever ask for.
3. Re-frame that negative energy into incredibly positive energy. Something I love to do when I get into a negative space about someone and especially if I let slip some negative energy about them, is completely, TOTALLY change my energy around that person, so there's no residual icky-ness the next time I think about them. I enjoy this process so much, that I now look forward to finding any residual icky-ness I haven’t addressed, so I can free up more loving energy in my life and fill myself with more and more love. To do this:
- Write a gratitude list for the person you spoke about
- Send loving and forgiving light to yourself and the other person
- Write out things you love about them
- Wish them a fulfilling, peaceful, loving life
- Visualize that you are both part of the same consciousness and by resisting something in that person you’re resisting it in yourself.
“When all the people in the world love one another, then the strong will not overpower the weak, the many will not oppress the few, the wealthy will not mock the poor, the honored will not disdain the humble, and the cunning will not deceive the simple.” -Mozi, Chinese philosopher
(Please Tweet and Stumble this post to share with others! Thank you!)