Gossip and Toxic Friends Detox!
Is it time to get rid of your gossip girl?! We think so!
Blog 2 of the ’40 day Inner Mean Girl Cleanse’! by Kim Knight, The Art of Health www.artofhealth.co.nz
So, the second call this week was with gender expert Susan Shapiro, author of ten books including ‘Toxic Friends’ and ‘Tripping the prom queen’.
“A gossiping relationship is a dysfunctional relationship” Susan Shapiro
Apparently, (and it makes sense if you think about it), the origins of gossip were not negative – it was about getting information out, passing the message on, getting the word around.
These days gossip tends to be a negative habit, which if we look deeper we find has a lot to do with not feeling good about ourselves, and trying to bring others down in our attempt to make ourselves feel better. This often has the effect of tearing friendships apart.
So, if you think you might have a habit of gossip, whether it be just a little or lots, here are some useful tips for starting ‘good talk’.
Why do we gossip?
The first question to address is ‘why do we gossip or stay in relationships where so-called ‘friends’ gossip about us’? Well, many reasons, and it often boils down to:
- issues of low self-esteem
- the need to seek approval from others
- fear of not being part of the crowd
In other words, we’ll do anything to be liked or not disliked out of our fear of rejection.
Often the habit of gossip is taught to us as we grow up by our mothers, aunts and elders and as we grow we just take it on as another habit.
Different levels of rivalry
What is the relationship between gossip, competition, envy and jealousy?
- Competition: “I’ll fight you for what you have”
- Envy: “I want what you have”
- Jealousy: “I want what you have and I’ll kill you for it!”
Sound like nice behaviour? Not really! Want to change? Read on…
Susan Shapiro’s tips on how to prevent gossip:
“You have to share values to share friendship” – Susan Shapiro
- Building mutual respect brings trust. We feel safe if we are not afraid people will gossip about us. So make a decision to build mutually respectful relationships.
- Build friendships with people with mutual values.
- Before you open your mouth to gossip, ask yourself “do I really want to hurt someone else?” or “how can this gossip be positive?”. Gossiping hurts ourselves and others, so do yourself and everyone else a favour by not gossiping.
- Don’t be swayed by others in group – stick to what feels right for you.
- Make a conscious decision not to gossip – it’s easy as that, although sometimes not so easy to change the habit.
- Turn it around and say something supportive instead of derisive about that person
“If we stay in unhealthy relationships we keep ourselves from healthy relationships” Susan Shapiro
How do you know it’s time to let go of a toxic ‘friendships’?
- When someone does something really hurtful – then you really know that person is not a friend at all
- When you no longer share common values
- When you notice you are avoiding friends and don’t feel courageous enough to be honest and say so
- When friendships make your life worse rather than better
- When toxic behaviour starts making you sick!
Helpful exercises for assessing and ending toxic friendships:
Listen to your inner self and ask:
- ‘Is this friendship healthy for me’?
- ‘What do I get from it’?
- ‘What does she get from it’?
- ‘Why are we friends’?
See what answers you come up with. And then make your decision from your wise, inner being. Trust your heart! Listen to your Inner Wisdom vs your Inner Mean Girl.
Take a friendship inventory – ask yourself:
- Which friends are helping me become the person I want to be?
- Which friends inspire me?
- Which friends are toxic?
- What do I need and want from a friendship?
- What are my expectations from a friendship?
“If we want to be happy and healthy, we need non-toxic friends”.
- Where do you gossip in your life?
- How was it modelled to you?
The connection between the heart and tongue.
Tip from Kim:
In the Universal Healing Tao practices, we have a meditation exercise called the ‘Inner Smile’. In Taoist theory the heart is intimately connected with the tongue. In fact, the tongue is known as the ‘child’ of the parent ‘heart’ organ. And whenever we go to speak anything negative about someone else, we get a sensation in our heart just before we speak the words. This is the heart telling us “NO! I don’t enjoy speaking ill of others”.
The heart is about love and compassion. When we feel love and compassion for others, WE also feel good.
So, next time you are about to say something detrimental about someone else, NOTICE how it feels in your heart, and if it doesn’t feel good, STOP! And say something else.
For more information on these Taoist practices see www.taohealth.co.nz
Susan Shapiro’s Inner Mean Girl Dare for the week:
“If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”
Be true to yourself in friendships!
For more info on Susan Shapiro see: www.susanshapirobaras.com
For more info on the Inner Mean Girl Cleanse see: www.daretoliveyou.com
For more info on Kim Knight see www.artofhealth.co.nz