What a deeply exhausting activity. It doesn’t matter who you are, denial that you have ever gossiped is a lie. Even the best of the best slip up from time to time and drop a negative line about someone who has frustrated them, albeit the good ones always feel remorse and regret for the negativity that exits their souls.
And that’s the thing, gossip in my eyes represents that negativity held within one’s soul. We can be righteous, courteous, and kind all day, every day, at any time; there comes a time when we feel the pangs of anger that lead us to saying ugly things about someone. It’s life.
But it’s exhausting. Think about it. Think about a time when you spent a prolonged conversation trashing someone else (for some “prolonged” could mean two minutes or two hours, that’s relative). By the end, you probably felt tired but relieved, or tired and guilty. For those who are professional gossip queens and kings, there is a sense of stamina that can be built by years (and years!) of practice. For what? Why do we choose to gossip? To “talk sh*t” if you will?
Honestly, I don’t know myself. There are probably articles upon articles on the internet describing the reasons why people choose to talk trash about some people to other people. Personally, I only feel the weight of annoyance and anger lift off my shoulders when someone has completely jacked my nerves and sent them off to space in a ball of rage. There is a small step between frustration and hell-bent hostility in my book. On other occasions, I really just want to express my perceptions and ideas about people. The problem with gossip is that it is judgmental. It can be harsh, it can be cruel, and it can be irreversible. You have to track what you say and to whom you say it; you have to decide if your gossip has a malicious purpose or if you just need to vent; you have to decide if you can live with the consequences of your idle chatter.
Can you? Can you decide why you talk?
When I get in a really bad mood and turn to wagging my tongue, I remember two things either before (which is good), during (not good but could be worse), or after (bad, bad, bad). These things lead me to reflect and make different decisions in the future if I can control my annoyance long enough.
- If someone is willing to gossip to you about someone else, they’re willing to gossip to someone else about you.
- “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:20-23.
Today, I got flustered while waiting for my car to be cleaned. The people around me were painfully obnoxious. So I stuck my nose in my book and drowned them out. Therein lies my solace. If I can ignore what bothers me, my judgments, and my haughtiness, I think I can avoid the gossip without trying to be self-righteous. I’m not perfect, and everything is a work in progress.