I cannot tell you the number of times I would sit down in a therapy session and start out by sharing the latest bit of mean petty crap someone had been saying about me and how hurt I was when I heard it. In the beginning this happened every single session I attended. My therapist would sit and quietly listen to me and then she would give me the best advice. She said
“The next time someone comes to you and starts telling you what they heard about you, just put up your hand and shake your head no and tell them you’re not interested in what they heard or who said it.”
I remember hearing her tell me this and wondering how in the world I would ever be able to do that. It seemed like an impossible task made to sound so simple!
Why was that so hard for me to do?
Isn’t it true that most of us want to know what’s being said behind our backs?
Don’t we all want to know who is telling tall tales and lies so we can defend ourselves?
Shouldn’t we be aware of who these horrible people are so we can avoid them?
Aren’t we responsible, in fact, isn’t it our sworn duty in life to correct the atrocities shared about us with others?
My defiant, fist-shaking answer to all of those questions used to be this resounding, deafening YES!
Isn’t that your response too?
I mean, why not bring on the gut-wrenching, blackened stories about what a terrible person I am? Why not sit through yet another lie about something I did not do and would never even consider doing? There were some instances where I became so angry about the cruelty being regurgitated by someone I barely knew that I seriously considered doing something along the same lines just to give them something else to talk about, but I didn’t.
The real question here is why did I want to hear the gossip about me?
I will tell you why. Listen up!
You want to hear the gossip because you have no idea who you really are. You care too much about what other people think and say about you because you have given away all of your power to them. The worst part of this is that these manipulative and hateful people know they can control you by running their mouths and telling lies about you and they thrive on it. Every point your blood pressure rises is a point in their favor.
They think they are winning the game. The problem here is there are no winners of this game. Everyone is losing no matter how well they play.
The first thing you need to do is stop listening to them.
You think that’s going to be hard to do, don’t you? There is a secret to making this much easier. You already know who comes back to you on a regular basis to share mean gossip about you and that’s the secret. Stop spending time with that person. If there’s more than one of them in a group I would suggest quietly giving yourself a break from the group for a while. There’s no need to confront any of them, just limit or eliminate the time you spend around them.
The sad truth here is these people are never going to change so even if you take a break from them once you’re back, they’re going to share more mean gossip about you. It’s up to you to decide if this is the kind of friend you want for yourself.
Stop feeling like you need to defend yourself.
I can tell you right now from hard earned experience that no amount of defending yourself ever works. The more you defend yourself, the more they have to talk about. The people that gossip love watching you struggle with trying to maintain your sanity and your self-respect. They share this stuff with you because it makes them feel better about their own pathetic existence.
They are not going to help you clear your good name, so don’t even ask them to. If they ever had this inclination, they wouldn’t be sharing malicious gossip with you now. They would have done exactly what my therapist kept telling me to do; they would have put up their hand, shook their head no and told the person they weren’t interested in hearing it because you are their friend and they love you.
Gossip has no place to go and eventually dies if it’s met with constant roadblocks.
The saying about what people say behind your back is none of your business, is true. What people maliciously gossip about has more to do with the person doing the gossiping, than the person they’re trying to discredit with gossip.
The type of person that gossips and thrives on hearing mean-spirited gossip about folks they call “friend” are some of the most insecure and unhappy people on the planet.
This person is someone that can not look in the mirror and find one thing about themselves that is worthy enough to share and so they tear down their other friends in order to find some sort of superiority in the ranks. They can’t feel good unless someone else is made to look horrid. This is extremely toxic behavior and serves no one except the person doing the gossiping.
Is this someone you want to spend a lot of quality time around? If it is then you might want to do some soul searching of your own.
I have never been much of a gossip. When I talk about or share situations I find unpleasant about another person I try to be fair and only share my own experience without passing too much judgement that might lead the other person to act differently than they normally would with that person. I’m never interested in hurting someone or making them suffer simply because I don’t like them.
Not everyone likes me and I’m fine with that as long as they respect my space and leave me alone. I stopped listening to gossip a long time ago. If other people wish to gossip and be petty that’s their prerogative. I have better things to talk about.