Thursday, April 23, 2009
BlissQuest: What Does Gossip Do to Our Energy?
Today's topic was submitted by a reader through Skribit*: How does gossiping affect our energy? How do we go about not gossiping?
*Remember: You can submit a question or topic submission through the Skribit widget to the right. Or you can vote on topics already suggested. Go ahead...I dare you. (That daring thing seems to work for a lot of you!)
This is a sensitive topic, especially, I think, for women, who are often made to feel that any talking they do at all is gossiping.
Deborah Tannen, in the classic sociolinguistic work You Just Don't Understand, points out some interesting male and female differences in terms of bonding and communication. (I don't own the book anymore so I cannot directly quote, but I highly recommend this work. It came out a year before Men are From Mars...)
Men bond and communicate predominately through actions, through doing. They play football together. They build something. (Remember, there are always exceptions to all "rules;" we are just looking at the "average.")
If you think about where we come from, this makes sense. Men were the hunters. They couldn't sit around chatting while they waited for their prey!
Women bond and communicate predominately, of course, through shared storytelling.
This, too, makes sense. Women were back at the village, taking care of the children (and eventually becoming the first farmers). Chatting made the work more pleasant.
Fast forward to the present: Men and women define the concept of gossiping totally differently. As said before, many women are made to feel that any talking they do at all that is not "productive" is "gossip."
Gossip is all about intent. Gossip is malicious and destructive and mean. It is meant to build you up while bringing someone else down.
Gossip is not simply the sharing of stories or information.
For example, you and a friend may have a mutual friend whom you both know is having a hard time. Discussing this in a way that is about displaying compassion is not gossip.
This is a sensitive issue to me as a writer. Everything I do could be construed as gossip!
But I am inquisitive about human nature. I am always trying to understand human motivation. So I look for hints to the larger story. I am always gathering for a deeper and broader understanding of how it is we work on the emotional and spiritual level. This is the stuff of my writing -- both fiction and otherwise.
The lesson here, then, is to always be checking in with your own intentions.
I was just watching a Dalai Lama lecture about nonviolence, and he points out something very important: Nonviolence is all about intention.
Someone's actions, for example, from the outside might look completely peaceful, but if you could see inside, you would see that they were doing whatever they were doing for manipulative reasons, to get something for themselves, etc. This is violence because they have ill intentions toward the other person. Perhaps they want control of the relationship. You get the idea.
This takes the practice of nonviolence to a more intense level, doesn't it? (Emphasis on "Practice.")
It means being completely aware of ourselves and our motivations when sharing information with other people.
This is a lifelong practice!
But it's worth working on and not just for the person about whom you may be gossiping. Mostly, this is about you. Whatever you are putting out into the world is what you will get.
Also, since we are all One (according to just about every major spiritual tradition on the planet!), you are hurting yourself whenever you hurt anyone else in any way.
From another perspective, Kundalini theory would say that gossip is about an imbalance of the throat chakra.
Perhaps you are gossiping because you are having a hard time expressing your own truth? Perhaps there is something you are unwilling to share about yourself and so take out your frustrations on others? Or maybe there is some way you are stifling your own creativity?
Or you are around a negative person and you are allowing yourself to get caught up in their negative energy -- which would indicate the need for some serious boundary work!
Think about these things when you feel like you are speaking in a way that lacks integrity.
Also, do not confuse gossiping with talking about difficult matters. Having a balanced throat chakra means you are able to confront the hard stuff, too. Not everything in life is pretty and rosey, and when we act like it is or expect it to be, again, we lack honesty.
Singing, chanting, and humming are great ways to balance this chakra.
If you leave an interaction and have a sour taste in your mouth, this is a red flag. Spend some time writing in your journal. Think about how and why it happened. And then move on. You'll do better next time!
Have you ever been affected negatively by someone else's or your own gossip? How did it feel? How did you handle it after the fact?