There are too many times when I catch myself (or worse, someone else catches me) talking negetively about others. It never fails. There is always some gossip to listen to or to spread. Always something I feel like I need to "vent." And such mean, judgemental things come out of my mouth. "She is SO difficult and stubborn!" "He can't take a hint!" "Why does she have to try so hard?" "I wish he would stand up for himself!" Whether these comments are about friends, family, or even strangers, they are loaded with resentment and are completely unconstructive. It does absolutely NO good to verbalize or internalize any of these judgements. It spreads hate and encourages others to chime in with their hurtful opinions too. One "buzz" comment can spread like pollen, until the whole hive is drumming and planning their next sting.
What I've realized is that often times, these kinds of negative comments have nothing to do with what I'm complaning about and are really as a result of something else that I've let go unspoken. There is usually something that I am afraid to confront a person about, and therefore I result to just talking about them instead of with them. All of those examples above are emotion-filled judgments that are born out of something more grounded in reality. For instance... instead of me gossiping that my friend X is so difficult and stubborn, I could tell X that it's hard to offer her advice when she is so closed off to receiving it. Or instead of telling all of my friends that Y is a total messy pig, I could simply ask Y to make an agreement that we will keep things tidy. Tell her that you are unhappy in the relationship. Tell him that you aren't emotionally available. Tell her that you need space. Tell him that it makes you feel bad when he says that. How ELSE are they going to know? Funny how they won't magically "get it" when you talk to everyone else BUT them about it. Sometimes a complaint feels so REAL and alive (like the person you are whinning about should just KNOW) because of how much you talk to other people about it. That's never the case. Unless one of those people gossips back to the original victim... and that is always an embarrassing and pitiful situation to be in. "Why couldn't you just tell ME?" Who's the bad guy now?
There are other occasions when I talk badly about someone simply because we don't agree on something. Instead of blabbing on about how a person is so (insert mean/nasty/heartless adjective here), I could look within and ask myself why I even let them get to me. Why do I care so much? When we let others bother us, we're often taking something personally. And that is always asking for an upset. Just because HE thinks something different than you doesn't mean that YOUR way of thinking is right/superior and that you need to convert him. Making someone wrong (or making yourself right) isn't going to actually make you feel better. That's a quick fix to avoid accepting and loving people. We are individuals and there is no way that we can all agree on how to conduct ourselves, what morals to uphold, how to live our lives... this life is beautiful and challenging because of those differences. Who are you that you get to call the shots and delineate right and wrong?
I have a note taped to my computer screen, and I feel like it too often goes unnoticed:
"Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate."If every time I wanted to say something bad about someone, I instead said something positive (even if it's about someone else or something completely unrelated), I would be a much lighter, brighter person. And everyone else around me would benefit too. You can't talk trash to someone who doesn't respond or engage in it with you. I want to be the person that people don't even try to gossip with, because they know I'm not interested in that. I want to be the kind of sweet person that you would feel ashamed to gossip to. I know people like that and they occur to me as much happier, genuine people.
Try to catch yourself being that mean person. Notice how unattractive and heavy it feels to be that way. And decide to be above it! Gossip is a domino effect - be the one that stays standing when everyone else collapses into it.