How to Stop Gossiping and Save Your Decaying Soul
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
5 ways gossiping ruins your life and how to stop it
“If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Yeah, you know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. But almost no one does it.
Gossip is often argued as important for us to survive and socialize. In fact, psychologist Robin Dunbar writes, “Were we not able to engage in discussions of these [social and personal] issues, we would not be able to sustain the kinds of societies that we do.”
A gossip is a form of cultural learning. And yes, it’s not always negative.
But I’m not talking about the esoteric definition that research gives. I’m referring to the conversations about other people, which are never fact-checked, sensational, and that which you talk about after you’re four drinks down.
All my life, I’ve been dragged into gossiping about extraneous matters. Talking about politics, the actor who was caught with drugs, or the rich brat who flaunts his car in the University.
While it can help connect people, the connection itself is thin. Deep bonds are not formed out of casual gossip. And small talk always comes out of big mouths.
As many will attest, gossiping often leaves us feeling empty inside. It develops a subconscious belief that you’re the kind of person who talks shit about people behind their backs.
Here’s why you should stop it immediately.
Embracing Victim Consciousness
“You cannot be happy if your primary identity is that of a victim, even if you really are one.”― Dennis Prager
Most times when people come up with gossip, you can bet it’s negative. It’s about how they’ve been let down by other people at work and how their spouse fights with them every day.
When you hear such people talk about their miseries, you cannot help but feel sorry for them. You want to help them. Except they don’t want to be helped. They want to take a dive into the pools of pessimism — and take you for a swim as well.
The more you listen to them, the more negative you become. Their victim consciousness is rubbing off you. It doesn’t take a lot of time for you to start seeing the world in the same way.
You take on a false image of a victim. You think you’re at the mercy of the things happening in the world. Along with that, you start reacting to everything from fear. And this is no way to live. It’s naught but a perpetual cycle of doom.
Even if the gossip itself isn’t negative, gossipers always find out a way to make it so.
Make a conscious effort to stay away from them as much as possible.
Locus of Control
“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick, and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over.” — Steve Maraboli
We’re always rambling about what we can’t control. Or the things that have nothing to do with us.
Workplace gossip is a perfect example. 99% of it doesn’t affect you in any way. But it makes you think so.
The fact that someone is sleeping with your boss threatens you to compete with them in the workplace. And then you take a series of bad actions to damage your reputation.
Yeah, it’s a top-of-the-head, non-sense example. But you get the point.
You cannot change other people, no matter how hard you try. At least not by gossiping about them. Identify your locus of control. And anything out of that is none of your business. Don’t talk about it, don’t think about it
Filling Every Moment With Something
“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”― Marie Curie
Whether you’re gossiping on IM, Social Media, or in person, it is the worst way to pass time.
The amount of junk that you fill your brain with is just not worth it. Eventually, your brain becomes so cluttered that there’s no room for things that matter until you free up space.
Focusing the Searchlights in the Wrong Direction
“Every time you point a finger at someone— there are three remaining fingers pointing right back at you.” — Anonymous
I don’t know where this quote comes from, but I’ve heard it a lot growing up.
What a third person did to a fourth person and what he did to you is unimportant. What is important is how you react and what you do.
Instead of focusing the searchlight on other people, turn it inward.
Use that time to introspect. Point the finger towards yourself. Ask yourself why you need to gossip — are you looking for validation or do you want to blow off some steam? How can you improve instead of complaining about the situation?
Paying Attention to the Negative Qualities
“You become what you digest into your spirit. Whatever you think about, focus on, read about, talk about, you’re going to attract more of into your life. Make sure they’re all positive.” ― Germany Kent
The research, “Facial Expressions of Emotion: Are Angry Faces Detected More Efficiently?”, found that we detect angry faces in a crowd of happy faces but do not detect a happy face in the crowd of an angry face.
This shows our primal inclination towards the negative and dangerous. It makes sense — in the early stages of evolution, we needed to know about everything that’s dangerous around us. The body cares about not dying and has made appropriate arrangements to do that.
But we don’t require the same amount of skepticism now. Which is why it is important to think positively most of the time. Your thoughts do become your reality and your identity.
This is a big reason to avoid gossiping especially when people do it for hours every day.
How to Remove the Weeds From the Garden
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people” — Eleanor Roosevelt
It’s time to determining what matters in your life and what doesn’t. Don’t let the important things slide away in favor of mindless gossip.
Shiv Khera in his book, You Can Win gives practical questions to remove it from your life. The next time you’re tempted to gossip, ask these questions:
Is it the truth?
Is it kind and gentle?
Is it necessary?
Am I spreading rumors?
Do I say positive things about others?
Do I enjoy and encourage others to spread rumors?
Does my conversation begin with “Don’t tell anyone?”
Can I maintain confidentiality?
Protect your attention and your mind. If you don’t, the world will suck up your energy. Take the control back in your hands today.
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