30 Nov SEPTEMBER – Avoid gossip
Nowadays, our media outlets are filled with ‘celebrity gossip.’ Social media floods our minds with images, videos and information from the second we start scrolling. Society has glamorised gossip and we live in a world driven by mass insecurity. In my opinion, Happiness is built on a foundation of kindness, acceptance, self love and the ability to serve others. Since I embarked on my journey and set resolutions to improve the quality of my life, I became more mindful of the actions of other people. Back in August, my resolutions worked towards improved positivity. What this month also highlighted for me was that in my efforts to be kinder to people, I often noticed how much people around me tore down others. I ended up being caught inside this tangled web of negativity and I wanted to break free.
One of my commandments clearly states that I am to ‘treat others as I want to be treated.’ I have always been a very honest friend. If I have a problem, I’ll say it. There is nothing I am saying behind your back that I haven’t already said to your face. Where I was falling short was at work and with people I barely knew. As a teacher, I work in an environment filled with professional bitches! Everyone always has a complaint, qualm or problem with another person on staff and they let everyone but that person know. I have always regarded myself as someone who is highly professional but I was finding myself present for conversations that made me uncomfortable. Sometimes, I would contribute and I wanted to get out of the hamster wheel as it was going against all that I wanted to live my life by. My resolution to avoid gossip was also going to be about giving others some perspective and grow an awareness of how their behaviour is holding them back negatively.
My theme this month is on being in the moment. To apply that to this context, I wanted to be mindful of the conversations that I was drawn into. My plan was to stop bitching in general and when I caught others doing it, I would either not engage (i.e. smile and nod) or take steps to offer perspective from another point of view (‘I hear you, but have you considered that they are really bogged down with X,Y,Z’). Another strategy I had was to make the bitching purposeful and promote conversation about how we can use this to take action. What can we learn from this? What needs to happen so that our knickers aren’t in a knot? When listening to other people gossip, my goal was to rationalise and provide support to overcome it.
Does the other person know you feel this way?
What are you going to do about it?
How can we fix the problem
This month was filled with a number of challenges and frustrations as I tried to pave my way to a kinder place. I had a friend who I considered to be high maintenance and asking far too much of me and a colleague who wasn’t pulling her weight. What came from this was so epic whinging on my behalf. I complained to my husband, friends and anyone who would listen. Keeping my resolution at the forefront of my mind, I started to clean up the mess. I called my friend and we had it out. We shared how we were feeling and tried to put it behind us. That lazy colleague? I sat her down, told her of all the ways her poor organisation was impacting upon me. I mapped out a way that she could get herself back on track. At the end of our conversation, I asked her what she had learned from this experience and she told me all the things she needed to do to prevent a mess like the one she had made in the future. Instead of complaining about her to my boss, I tried to put it into perspective. I let my boss know that she clearly needs help and outlined all the ways I could support her. Aside from these two incidences, my resolution highlighted to me how much people complain, bitch and moan on a daily basis. My heightened awareness found me staring blankly at people while they bashed others. I found that people often bitched but did absolutely nothing about their problem. They talked about others from a place of insecurity, to make themselves feel better. They were trapped in a bitchy vortex and had no way out!
Gossip dies once it enters the ears of the wise. I’m not playing a martyr here. I didn’t stand up on my soap box every time I heard someone gossip and correct them. What I did was rationalise with people. I provided a more positive opinion or spin to their issue. Often what I found, was that people stopped dead in their tracks. They would look at me blankly for a minute. I could see their minds mulling over the fact that I’m not buying into it. Self realisation would click and they would either stop the conversation or agree with me. My boss always noticed when I spun things and would say to me that I was such a positive or reflective person. Other colleagues would make comments about how professional I was and I started to be labelled as someone who wouldn’t engage in these conversations! Some colleagues even tried to get me to say bad things! The only diagnosis for this could potentially be that they were laden with insecurities themselves.
I own that I still made mistakes this month. I spent some time whinging about my difficult friend to anyone who would listen. I’m not sure why. Maybe now upon reflection, it was because I was trying to justify my behaviour in the situation. I was creating an atmosphere that made people side with me so it was clear that people agreed with my frustrations. It was the same situation with my colleague, initially, It was easy to tell others about how annoyed I was rather than actually doing something proactive. By setting this resolution, I was able to recognise that I was getting myself caught in the bitching trap. What was this negative talk achieving for me? There was absolutely no purpose, so I stopped. I didn’t want to be the smiling assassin. I solved both problems and moved on with my life.
Gossip is a symptom of a more deep rooted problem. We gossip about others in an attempt to slap a band aid on issues we feel ourselves. What I’ve learnt this month is that we can create the gossip or we can take part. Both are equally time wasting and serve no purpose on a journey to true happiness.