As we’re merely human, the following is something we’ve probably all been and most likely are still guilty of from time to time. Like all learned habits/behaviors, we may do it unknowingly and to varying degrees. Solely through dedicated observation and self-confrontation can we begin to disengage from…
Gossip: that casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving speculative detail… Too often, gossip is even a form of violence used in the workplace, families, and social circles to make and break reputations, create bonds between some while isolating others, and reinforce - or punish a lack of – morality and/or accountability. Gabbing may be used by third parties to consciously or unconsciously sabotage or assist others’ intimate relationships (i.e. meddling in-laws)… gossip proves that words can be such vitriolic weapons.
Our participation in gossip may vary from subtle chitchat to the blatant and intentional. There’s also the flip side of the coin – being the victim of gossip (large or small). We’ve probably all been here at some point and, as damaging as this may be, there are strengthening lessons that can be taken away.
For me, falling subject to others’ past gossip has helped me reexamine my own speech and unnecessary participation in others’ affairs. It’s also provided the invaluably tough lesson of being more realistic about my expectations of certain individuals. I’ve become increasingly more sensitive to overhearing gossip, even if it’s about someone I don’t know, and recommit to watching my words. Likewise, I’m more conscious of any occasional slip of lip and make greater efforts to amend it.
This week challenge yourself: Lovingly examine your participation in or perpetuation of gossip.
When do you…
- Speak unnecessarily about a co-worker, friend, or family member? Do you ever needlessly critique people, even total strangers?
- When do you think about saying something unnecessary or hurtful and catch your words? How can you keep this up? I find asking the question, “Is it necessary?” is extremely useful.
- If you’re talking about another person, how can you temper your words? In a controversial situation, how can you be more objective?
If you’re the victim of gossip…
- How can you rise above it by standing up and, if necessary, set the story straight?
If you’re the witness of gossip and it’s appropriate…
- How can you quell others’ slanted chitchat?
Try it and you will find that bringing more peace to your speech will resonate throughout your entire being.
Sophie Herbert is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student), a singer-songwriter, and a visual artist. She has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India; teaches yoga in Brooklyn and Manhattan; and recently released her first full-length album, "Take a Clear Look." Please visit her website at SophieHerbert.com.