`Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.’
Most people have been the target of gossips in one form or another in the course of their lives. It is a matter of the amount of toxic content of the gossips and slanders. What is more important is to what extent the victim allows the gossips to affect and transform his or her life. One must be aware and understand the nature of the gossips and draw the boundary lines that separate reality, myths and lies (the stuff manufactured by one’s imagination) . Once one has defined the realities and virtual realities of one’s adversed circumstances, then one can choose the kind of appropriate responses to minimize the negative impact of the gossips.
By their very nature, most gossips will go away and they are to be regarded as a form of illusion. However their negative impact is real and long-lasting if one allows the gossips to disturb their mental health and their peace of mind. Gossips act like termites in attacking buildings. The termites feed voraciously at the wooden components of a building silently and insidiously. You can sense it but you cannot see it or hear it. You only know where the termites have done their jobs when you knock on the surface and the response is a hollow sound. It is the same in human relationships. When a person or friend who has been infected by the vicious virus of gossip or slander, the relationship becomes hollow and meaningless devoid of sincerity and authenticity. The tragedy of the social consequences of vicious gossips is that the innocent ones appear as guilty as the convicted ones. No proof is needed and no explanation is necessary. It is so simple and easy to convict a person based on hearsay.
To be trapped in the midst of an insidious messy gossip campaign triggered by external factors is a frightening thing and it can easily trigger a deep sense of helplessness. One’s initial reactions would be to do a self-examination to assess other people’s body language and social interaction. The unfortunate thing about gossips is that some of us have a strong tendency to judge ourselves more harshly than the mistake merits. That means we tend to exaggerate our past mistakes and let our guilt and imagination blow things out of proportion. Such a person will tend to be a much harsher judge on himself or herself than the world out there. In this way, the person who is more vulnerable and sensitive will be hurt much more than an insensitive person.
On the other hand, there are some people who may try to deny their mistakes and minimize the significance of their mistakes. Such people will probably suffer less emotional hurt at the hand of the gossipers. They tend to downplay the negative social impact of the gossips. On the plus side, they will be able to remain calm until the whole thing blows over. Their inner calm will enable them to appraise things more accurately before making a hasty decision which will aggravate their situations. Never make a radical decision or take a drastic step when you are under tremendous social or psychological pressure because it is very difficult to make a good informed decision when you look at things through cracked or flawed lenses.
An awareness of the situation you are in is important. Even more important is an awakened awareness of yourself, your emotional responses and your perception. Once you have obtained the necessary information about yourself, then it is possible to brainstorm on a range of possible responses and select the most positive response.
Try to see your mistake as well as the gossips in their proper perspectives. If your mistake has caused somebody harm, make the necessary amends to rectify the situation. Never try to justify something evil with a righteous intention. What is black is black, white is white! Your interpretation, however crafty, will not improve your situation or your life. That is why it is important to see things as it is and not what you want to see. Always beware of the deviousness of your mind that can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven. Adopting a defensive mindset and a flawed perception will not improve your life and make it wholesome.
Food for Thought
Be Yourself. Accept yourself as you are. But that does not mean that you have no room for improvement or that you are already perfect. See things in the right perspective. Stay calm and don’t be paranoid or panicky in your responses.
“Whatever anyone else says or does, I must be true to myself, just as if gold or emerald or the color purple would say, “Whatever anyone may do or say, I must be an emerald and keep my color.”
Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor & philosopher
`Actively plant positive seeds in the garden of your mind and weed out any negatives as soon as they appear. As soon as you are aware of a negative entering your mind, nip it in the bud.’
Lynda Field, `Ways To Heal Yourself’
Submitted by Philosaiki YK