By: Jess Reedy, IATG Contributor January 6, 2016
Image via thestar.com
I can still remember the ah-ha moment. I was sitting on a cozy couch in a therapist’s office. She was trying to pull some details out from me, and I was being my usual stubborn self. Looking back, she was one of the most patient people I’ve ever met. I’ll refer to her as Queen Patience. Our conversation went something like this:
Queen Patience: “How about you tell me a little bit about what he did.”
Stubborn Me: “I don’t really want to.”
QP: “Ok, why don’t you tell me some information about your relationship.”
SM: “I don’t really want to.”
(This is the part when Queen Patience would just stare at me with kindness for a really long time until I finally felt like I HAD to say something. Dang, she was good at her job.)
SM: “I don’t like talking about him because I don’t like gossiping. I don’t like talking badly about people.”
Queen Patience was quiet for a while, and then she dropped a truth bomb on me that I will never, ever, ever forget, “It’s not gossip if you need to explain how you feel. And it’s certainly not gossip if you are expressing a need for help.”
My mind exploded. And I think about this day often, because as a member of the I AM THAT GIRL community, I’m active in the fight to change girl culture. So I think It’s important to know what counts as gossip, and what counts as expressing yourself.
After my ah-ha moment, I put together a mental checklist for myself to help me know when it’s gossip versus expression.
How Do you Mean It?
If your intention when talking about someone is to shock or entertain your listener, then it’s probably gossip. If your intention is to let someone know how a person is affecting you, then that’s ok!
How Much Truth Is In It?
It’s also important to not embellish the truth. Stick to stating the facts of the situation and the way that they are making you feel.
Who Are You Talking To?
Know your audience. Does your listener like drama and conflict? Then they might not be a great person to talk this through with. Find someone who is more interested in your feelings than they are about knowing the latest gossip. Those are the friends who will stay focused on the way you are being affected.
And remember, one of my favorite quotes by Anne Lamott, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
Gossip can be so toxic, but it’s important to practice self-expression in healthy ways. Give us some more “checks” to add to Jess’ list to help keep us all rocking positive sharing! Tell us below!
Jess is a business owner and IATG chapter leader in Wilmington NC where she teaches yoga and pottery. She loves the beach, her dog, and people who feel like soul sisters. She also considers herself a professional at brunch.
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