Have you ever been at the receiving end of another’s blubbering tongue? Knowing others have gossiped about you hurts, doesn’t it?
Everyone loves an old chinwag. After all, human beings are social beings and need to connect. But gossiping about others is not a healthy and productive way to cement or heal relationships when they have gone awry.
Why People Gossip
To stop gossiping about others, it’s important to understand why you do it. After all, there’s a feel-good factor when gossiping. It’s easy to get a kick out of it.
The human ego is at work with this unhealthy blathering. It’s a way to:
- Feel justified when aggrieved
- Release tension and fear of a person
- Isolate others, and so can make you feel powerful
- Connect with others and feel part of the group
- Share how you’re feeling and seek support
- Express envy about others
- Relieve boredom since gossiping easily arouses interest
Not all the reasons for gossiping are negative. But it’s the gossiping itself which can be harmful or damaging. You only have to ask those who’ve been at the receiving end.
In the workplace, it can be responsible for heightened stress. This results in lessened productivity and higher rates of sick leave.
It can affect people’s mental health.
How Harmful Is Gossiping to the Gossiper?
You could argue that gossiping is harmful only if the person being discussed finds out. But it’s not only the targeted individual who is affected. It affects the person initiating the tittle-tattle and those participating, too.
- A Waste of time
- A waste of energy
- Guilt inducing
- Rumour spreading
- Slander mongering
- Ruining someone’s reputation
One of the worst results for the gossiper is the growth of self-delusion. It can give them a sense of self-justification when they’re in the wrong. Also, it’s easy to project their faults onto others.
Likewise, it can fill them with a deluded sense of self-importance.
And the worst of all mentalities which can develop is the victim mentality. And poor me is developing at the expense of someone else’s reputation.
It’s worse again if this repeated behaviour results in bitterness of heart.
Incidentally, this can be further entrenched.
The participants of the chin-wagging might distance themselves from the initiator. And they could do this if they decide the gossiper’s malicious or untrustworthy.
Moreover, everyone feeds their ego in different ways. Gossiping’s one way which is harmful to mental health. Both the dispenser, those participating and those at the receiving end are at risk.
And a common result is suspicion and mistrust among those involved. The victim won’t trust the gossiper or the participants. And the participants could wonder if they’ll be the next target of the gossiper.
Consider. People tend to view negative information about someone as more revealing. Even more so than what’s positive about them. And, unfortunately, people are better at remembering what’s negative.
So, is it any wonder doubt and suspicion can arise?
The Difference between Toxic and Inoffensive Gossiping
Not all gossiping is necessarily bad.
It can help you establish boundaries when others have deviated from social norms. Likewise, it can clarify a person’s situation while developing a sense of belonging. It also helps orientate someone to their place in the scheme of things, such as in the workplace.
In such instances, this type of gossip is non-malicious. It’s not seeking to criticise someone or put them down. Neither does it attempt to isolate or control them.
Additionally, curiosity of other people’s lives can also be a reason. It’s not being used here as a weapon. And finding out information to know how to relate better to someone is normal.
The main issue revolves around the intention. Is the chit-chat intended to gain some kind of understanding of a person or event?
Or is it to feel superior to another?
The problem with intention is that it’s easily blurred. And human nature – as it is – can deceive you into thinking you’re doing something harmless.
What to Learn from Gossiping
Gossiping is a measurement of the gossiper’s inner world. If you gossip, it’s a good exercise to look at what emotions are aroused. This produces the fruit of self-knowledge which is never a bad thing.
Being truthful with yourself, you come to understand yourself better. You can accept your shadow self is at work.
It’s a humbling experience – of that there’s no doubt.
But recognising what’s happening when you gossip helps you notice when you’re doing it. In turn, this helps you stop.
And it’s also a turning point in self-growth if acted upon.
Also, ask yourself if gossiping concerns a lot of fear, anxiety or insecurity. Accepting this can be the first step in dealing with the causes of gossiping.
And remember the adage: And the truth will set you free.
Respond well, and you will be free indeed.
Being truthful with yourself, you can come to understand yourself better and accept that your shadow self is at work. It’s a humbling experience to recognise and acknowledge what is happening when you gossip. But it can be a turning point in self-growth if acted upon constructively.
Perhaps it concerns a lot of fear, anxiety or insecurity. Accepting this can be the first step in dealing with these causes of gossiping.
And remember the adage: And the truth will set you free.
How to Stop Toxic Gossiping
Self-reflection and change of behaviour helps you interact more constructively with others.
- Would you want someone to say those things about you?
- How would you feel if you caught someone speaking to others about you that way?
- Do you know if your opinion is accurate?
- What business is it of yours anyway?
Again, it can be a humbling experience having to admit to yourself that you have acted shamefully. But this is also the first step to healing your thinking.
It’s also important to avoid negative and critical people when you can. They have a way of disturbing or poisoning your soul. So stay away from them.
Knowing when gossiping is wrong, try to change the subject. If you’re unable, say something positive about the intended target. That has a way of bringing gossip to a standstill.
The use of humour can also be employed to divert the conversation. You can use the points being mentioned to jokingly turn it on the gossiper. It can help them to see the issue isn’t that important and isn’t worth complaining about.
They might even see the funny side and laugh along with you.
Wrapping It Up
Everyone loves to connect and chat. It’s healthy and important to do so. Gossiping is part of that connection in every culture. It’s a practice which is either damaging or harmless to all involved.
The problem lies with intention. But you can challenge yourself about gossiping. Use this as an opportunity to discover your motives and better understand your behaviour. Having done this, you’re in a position to stop gossiping and help others do the same.
So don’t stay stuck in the vicious cycle of tittle-tattle which can damage your mental health. Halt the drama and get real.