Have you ever had anyone gossip about you? Ever have someone spread untrue stories about you, and make your life miserable? I believe it is an actual assault on our character and it doesn’t matter if it is true or not because it still does damage, sometimes damage that can not be repaired. When you are gossiped about your surroundings can becomes a scary place, you suddenly don’t know who you can trust and even those closest to you can become suspect. It creates fear and worry and depending on the type and amounted talk going on, it can downright ruin someone’s life. People have even been known to take their own life. Look at the stories of school kids being tormented so much they would rather die than be talked about so much. I feel that is extreme, yes, but it wasn’t to the person living it. When we choose to create lies, listen to lies, and spread lies we are actively taking a part in a person’s demise, whether we intend to or not, it is what happens.
Gossip is just like most addictive behavior; it stems from people with low self esteem and low self worth. They feel better by making people feel as bad as they do. They get a response from the pleasure part of the brain in the Limbic system, encouraging them to continue the behavior. When they make someone feel bad, they feel good. People that are addicted to gossip usually have some kind of emotional or physical challenge that doesn’t make them feel very good about themselves. It can be anything from being over weight to having acne to not being a good driver. It really doesn’t matter what the cause of it the action is, it still elicits’ the same behavior.
Now, what is unique about gossip addiction as opposed to alcohol and drug addiction is initially the substance abusing individual isn’t hurting anyone but themselves. Their dependency eventually grows until it effects everyone around them. With gossip addiction it begins as an all out war on every individual they seem worthy of their abuse. It’s only when it backfires and people become aware of them and their work does the addict feel it. They can go long periods without feeling the direct effect of their work and often they have more than one individual that they are actively gossiping about a time. When they are finally found out it can be an incredibly explosive dramatic situation.
Gossip addicts like to recruit other people into their addiction as well, they usually look for people who have even lower self esteem than themselves. This gives the addict a sense of power and a sense of control. They often threaten the weaker individual and question their loyalty constantly. The unsuspecting recruit is often afraid of the gossip addict, has minimal friends, and is scared to speak up for themselves or anyone else. They find a sense of safety and companionship with the addict and can act as a spy or are always on the look out to bring back news about the person they are talking about. This creates a reward response in the helper and since they are already so far down this feels good to them, that someone is noticing them and they feel loved. This is quite similar to a domestic violence situation; the abused seeks affirmation from the abuser.
The gossip addict can ultimately collect quite a few individuals in their group in a relatively short time. They are usually new in town, new at a job, or new in the area for some reason. They move from one situation to the next looking for people because they are ran out of so many other locations once they are found out about. They tend to be loners until they get their little group going.
There are varying degrees of gossip addiction and each has it’s own harmful characteristics. Some are office spy’s who love to tell the boss what everyone is up to and saying about them. There may be the community ‘watch dog’ spreading gossip about the neighbors and what goes on in their homes. It could be at the kids school; meddling staff with information they aren’t supposed to share. Other parents who gossip are within their clicks. It can even be in your own family with a member who just has it out for you, everyone is afraid to confront them because of their bullying behavior. It doesn’t matter where it is or who it is, it is the damage that they feel compelled to create in order to feel better about themselves. In the United state it is an overwhelming amount of gossip addiction. 1 in every 3 people have a problem with keeping their mouths shut! Have you seen Facebook? The celebrity gossip shows? Your neighborhood? Your workplace??
My question is who is responsible for their actions? Who is responsible for the fall out they cause? Depending on what the gossip is about someone may lose their job, which could result in complete financial devastation and even homelessness. It can cause severe problems in a family that marriages and family bonds can be broken forever. Parents can be threatened to have their kids taken away. Don’t scoff I know someone that is happening to right now and she is having a lawsuit against them. Ex-spouses partners sometimes start gossip; they feel betrayed, left out, or dumped and lash out not realizing the damage they are doing is ultimately to their own children.
How do you get a gossip addict to treatment? Good question, I haven’t found a treatment center yet, I say yet because it may be a possibility. Until then there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and not set yourself up to be gossiped about. If you personally feel that you are being gossiped about or your reputation and ethics are being discussed you have the right to know. By getting to the core of the situation quickly and effectively can hopefully negate a bulk of the damage.
One point I would like to stress deeply:
If you know that someone that is being talked about in negative and potentially hurtful ways, please find a way to let the person know what is happening immediately. Keeping silent is no different than the gossiper.
Ask the person in question whether the stories are true, don’t take opinions and thoughts of others as truth. We don’t know their agenda, we don’t know why they are speaking these things. If children are repeating information, and it is not a child abuse situation, ask one or both of the parents if the story is true! Taking the word of a child with out asking the parents for confirmation can only lead to deeper problems. Children can have their own motive for causing trouble too. I learned that in one of my classes, especially in divorce cases.
10 Ways to End Gossip and Heal Your Soul
1. First of all take a good look at yourself. Is anything they are saying have an air of truth to it? Are you always late for work? Do you take advantage of your friends? Are you disrespectful to family members? Take an emotional inventory on yourself and see if you are giving anyone a reason to be talking.
2. Clean up your act. If you have pieces of information just hanging out there online, clean up your digital dirt. Anything you have done online can still be found. Don’t give anyone any unnecessary fuel. DO NOT advertise your family or personal problems online. Don’t announce you’re fighting with your partner, you hate your job or boss, or how you hate your family. Just keep it light….keep it social.
3. Don’t gossip yourself. Mind your own business, and make sure your family does the same. If there are children in the home instruct them to not talk about personal matters that go on in your home, especially between the parents. If mom and dad are having problems that is not the information to share with others.
3. If other family members or ex spouses/partners are ASKING for information from the kids, remind your children that personal matters between the parents such as the relationship, arguing, finances, and other things are not to be discussed with others. If the children feel that they are always being pumped for information ask them to tell you first and you will handle it because you are an adult.
5. If it is made known to you that the children are being asked for information address the situation immediately! Make it known that this behavior will not be tolerated for any reason. If it continues then set a consequence and stick to it. Make sure the children aren’t “in trouble” with the other parent over this.
6. At the workplace, always conduct yourself accordingly and don’t feed the fire. Do your best always, don’t be late, don’t take people’s food, and don’t talk about your boss or management to anyone! Keep your area clean and efficient, be sure to be a positive team member, and honor the rules of the workplace. Don’t show up thinking the rules don’t apply to you and you can get away with things. Cute only goes so far, especially with other women. Keep your mouth shut and do your best.
7. Make it known that you are aware of talk going on and you are on a mission to find out who it is from and what it is in regards to. I know some professionals may say to just let it go, and that may work some of the time, but often it just keeps getting worse. Like with bullying, if you don’t address it, the damage may not be repairable later. Once you make it known you know, people begin to get really nervous and it may inadvertently “out’ the perpetrator.
8. Be prepared. Often gossip involves lies stemming from people who think they know something, or have been told something they think is the truth. Of course it has been salted and peppered along the way so it may be really skewed by the time it reaches you. What may have been one single circumstance has grown into a nightmare of epic proportion. It may be painful that anyone even believed that about you, and didn’t ask you first, they just believed it…..
9. The gossip may be turn out to be true. The result of your past and a life you have left far behind is now showing up. It may be twisted a little and exaggerated or parts changed but you still recognize it as being true. Well, at least it is out now. It is no more a secret. Depending on the severity of it and the circumstances involved it may involve some painful conversations you hadn’t planned on yet, if ever. You can enlist a professional to help you with that process, if necessary.
A Coach can bring in a whole family and allow for open and honest dialogue in a safe and loving manner. Before you get too upset know that we have all done things we are not proud of and many of us are NOT the same person we were before. You may find it incredibly healing to address the truth and deal with it properly. Sometimes the things we think are the worst, often aren’t as bad as we imagined.
10. Moving forward. After the smoke has cleared and the truth is out and all the people involved are discovered you can look at all the cards laid out on the table, so to speak. Working with a Life Coach can help you not only heal from the experience but learn from it. What type of lesson has this taught us? How has our Soul benefitted? You may find tremendous relief to release this burden and finally let it go. Forgive yourself, find it in your heart to forgive those who played a part. You don’t have to invite them back into your life, but don’t keep them bound to you by holding a grudge.
Going through a process like this may seem daunting and people are always tempted to sweep things under the rug. Sweeping things under the rug just results in a bigger lump under the rug, it doesn’t go anywhere, it just keeps getting bigger. Taking back control of your life and showing there is accountability for negative actions taken against you is often enough to stop the behavior. This continues to build our self esteem and self worth, it opens dialogue with people in ways that can bring healing and happiness to your life again.