Last week I decided to take a vow of NO GOSSIP. We had given a lecture the week before and addressed how poisonous gossip can be. While I was delivering the lecture I thought to myself, humm you need to take this seriously. How can you give this advice and then actually gossip again? So after the lecture I thought about it a lot.
Whenever I caught myself talking about someone in a not so flattering manner, I realized it didn’t feel so good. I do remember at one time it did feel rewarding to tear someone down behind their back, but when did that change for me? When did it start feeling so wrong? I’m not sure when I began to tire of gossip but I think it’s somewhat recent.
Growing up my mother and her two sisters were relentless gossips, they talked about everyone. They would clamor on in a nasty judgmental way as they went down the list of people they knew. No one was sacred, anyone that came in contact with them was up for scrutiny and would eventually be cut down about something, it could be their hair, it could be their teeth, their lack of money or they may have had too much money. They would say things like; How could she wear that? He should lose weight. What was interesting is that most of what they were saying was out of habit, once they labeled someone as fat, lazy, ugly or cheap that person didn’t stand a chance of overcoming that image. They became labels and the same comments were repeated week after week so that these comments became their reality about those they talked about (which was everyone). No one grew in their eyes, my cousin Beth was fat no matter how much weight she lost. She was a chubby child and they could never see her in the present.
I was aware that they were not being nice, but at the same time they seemed to be having fun, and I received approval from them if I participated. I wanted to be loved by them and I wanted their approval. If I participated the world felt right they loved me and I was accepted for that moment.
It took me years to unlearn this behavior. But occasionally I do run into people who seem to relish cutting down others and will approve of me if I participate. It’s familiar territory, it can feel cozy and safe and fun while it’s happening, just like it did sitting in my aunt Edie’s den all those years ago.
I’m still keeping my vow of No Gossip, lets see what happens in week two.