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June Converse

Thriving After Trauma - Author and Writing Coach

Am I Gossip? Are You?

Am I Gossip? Are You?

If you’re like me, the term gossip is 100% negative. I mean, really, is gossip ever good?

“Gossip is black magic … it’s pure poison.” ~ The Four Agreements by Ruiz

So, are you a gossip? My guess is that we all are in some way. Oh, we couch it in concern or with an air of nonchalance. But gossip is gossip. Poison is poison.

I heard myself say last week, “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I shared this”.

  • Question one: How can I be sure she wouldn’t mind?
  • Question two: Why would I share something about someone else at all?

I am only allowed to speak for myself. I do not give that power to anyone else and no one gives it to me. Ruiz was right when he wrote, “…gossip can be compared to a computer virus…One little piece of information can break down communication between people, causing every person it touches to become infected and contagious to others”.

A Case Study

I was recently working out with a friend. We were talking about how proud we are of Diane because she was finally taking her health seriously. Was that gossip? It was positive, right? It certainly wasn’t meant to wound. But let’s go deeper into my comments – let me lay it all out. This will hurt.

Did you notice that word “finally”?

Part of me felt self-righteous because I am fastidious with my work outs.

The words were also judgmental because they implied Diane had not taken her health seriously before. That judgment also presumed I was allowed to offer my opinion about Diane’s attitude and her health. “We create all this poison and spread it to others just so we can feel right about our own point of view.”

My point of view is that exercise is a key component of good health. My point of view is that everyone should take their health seriously in exactly the same way I do. My point of view is how others take care of their bodies is somehow my damn business.

You know what just dawned on me – Gossiping is hypocritical. I commented on Diane’s exercise because I know I’m not taking care of my health in other ways. Instead of dealing with my own health, I put a feather in my cap and looked at Diane instead of myself.

Let me share another example. Another friend, Peggy just suffered a health scare. I shared this with someone we have in common. I promise you I did this because I knew she would care for my friend; she’d reach out and be empathetic. But what ulterior motives might have been poisoning my words? Did I feel important that I was in on the trauma? Did I get to feel good about myself for caring about others and wanted to show off? If I’m going to be intentionally impeccable, I have to be honest about my intentions.

How Do I Stop?

“Learn from your mistakes means you practice, look honestly at the results, and keep practicing.” ~ The Four Agreements.

Stopping can be radically easy and impossibly difficult. Easy because all it takes is for me to allow my brain to engage before my mouth. Difficult because the habit is so ingrained it will be hard to recognize. And, come on, let’s be honest, our culture makes gossip wholly accepted and wholly expected. Look at the headlines. Shoot, we have entire shows just for gossip – Entertainment Tonight, TMZ and so many others. Open your phone, read the last ten Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram feeds. Read a few headlines. What percentage is some sort of gossip?

Listen to yourself. What percentage of your words are actually gossip?

But What About This?

I had dinner with two friends on Wednesday night. I asked, “How is Jim doing?” I was sincerely wanting to hear if Jim had joined the fire department. I learned Jim had decided not to become a fireman and was instead working with competitive mountain bikers. Was my question and the answer gossip? I’m honestly not sure.

On the one hand, the question was asked with the sincere intentions of friendship.

On the other hand, if I wanted to stay in touch with Jim’s life, why had I not invited Jim to dinner?

I’m trying to remember the conversation and it did turn to gossip because, although we agreed with his new career choice, in order to come to that agreement, we had to judge it. Does that make sense? Even deciding something is good is a judgment. Right?

Yikes

The longer I work on this post, the more evidence I have that I am a gossip. I talk about people without their permission and pretend “it’s innocent”.

I refuse to judge myself because the words have been spoken and cannot be retrieved. But I can pay attention, think before speaking, look at self instead of others.

“If you always do your best, there is no way you can judge yourself.” ~ The Four Agreements by Ruiz

I’m going to do my best by enlisting help. I am around the same group of people most of the time. I’m going to send them this blog and ask that they help hold me accountable. I’m doing this because speaking before thinking and gossiping is a habit that will be hard to identify without support. While I’m not a huge fan of the Twelve Step Program, I think I should stand up and say, “I’m A Gossip” and receive encouragement from others.

So, I ask again – Are you a gossip? Are you willing to be more intentional and more impeccable with your words?

One of the biggest revelations I received from The Four Agreements is that I can and do gossip about myself. I spew personal poison into my own veins. I’ll discuss that next time!

Journal Time

Review yesterday’s conversations. When did you gossip? Why would you label your words gossip? What motivations (honest motivations) did you have for this gossip? Is there a relationship where you hear yourself speaking or listening to gossip more than in other relationships? If so, what could you do to have impeccable speech?

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June Converse with purple hair
Choosing to rebuild a life after a breakdown has been a challenge. I became an author and a blogger who openly shares...
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