I’ve been thinking about gossip lately, and the harm it can cause. If I speak to someone who isn’t directly part of either the problem or its solution, or about someone who is not present, then I’m gossiping. This sows distrust, destroys our integrity, harms relationships, ruins reputations, and it will inevitably come back to haunt us.
Anatomy of gossip
If we’re not in a good place, we might try and get a lift by judging others negatively.
Unfortunately, the relief from ourselves this affords is usually short-lived.
Gossip can focus attention onto us if we’re bored with a conversation or feel ignored.
Perhaps I just need to relax and listen to what’s being said.
We can gossip to hurt someone we envy because of their good fortune, popularity, talents, or lifestyle.
It can be a mistake to assume that because someone has money, property and prestige, they are happy.
If we desperately want to belong to a group we might try to gain a special status by divulging secrets about people.
If I’m feeling insecure, then perhaps I need to tell myself I’m OK rather than acting out.
We think we can buy ourselves a place in the spotlight when we gossip.
But pretty soon I acquire a reputation I didn’t intend.
If we’re angry and unhappy with someone, we might seek retribution by making disparaging remarks or spreading malicious rumours about them.
If I’m upset with something someone has done, it’s far healthier to discuss it with them directly.
I need to look at myself first
Gossip seems to say far more about the gossiper than the person that is the (unknowing) target of the gossip. Gossiping tends to rebound on the gossiper as others quickly see how insecure and mean spirited they are.
It’s much better to channel whatever discontent I might be experiencing into something more uplifting, like helping someone less fortunate than I am. Unlike gossiping, it works every time.
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