Can Gossip Ruin A Person’s Life? – Brief Article
Some people love to gossip while others love to hear it.
But gossip isn’t so appealing when it is about you. No one wants to be talked about, whether the information is true or not. And for some, being the subject of gossip can have devastating consequences–depending on how they handle it–experts tell JET.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Allen Carter, an adjunct psychology professor and director of clinical services for the counseling center at Morehouse College, says gossip can ruin your life if you allow it.
“It’s non-truth. You want to find out what is true so that you do not respond to gossip, but truth,” says Carter.
He says that gossip usually brings about an emotional reaction. “Gossip is sensational. When you hear it, don’t react. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to do anything, but once your buttons are not automatically pushed, you operate with a clearer head. Just allow yourself to know that gossip is something that hasn’t been proven.”
Carter says that the more people keep gossip going, the more it can affect a person. “When people don’t want to find out the truth and perpetuate something that isn’t true, yes, it can hurt people. If a person hears something about another, their first job should be to check it out … You have to look at the source of the information and see how credible that person is. Even if a person has some degree of credibility, you don’t want to pass on anything that is untrue.”
How a person handles gossip will determine if it ruins his life, says Dr. Linda James Myers, associate professor of psychology and African and African-American Studies at Ohio State University.
“If a person has the internal fortitude to know the truth and live the truth, what others may or may not say is of no great consequence,” explains Myers. “It is when our sense of worth and identity is tied to what other people think that puts us at greatest risk to gossip. Since the nature of truth is to rise and be revealed, with a secure sense of self, support from others who also know the truth, and time, the truth will come to light.”
Myers reveals that people are more inclined to believe gossip than the truth because “people are not critical thinkers.”
She notes, “[People] get caught up in the trap of trying to make themselves feel `better’ by putting others down. We also fail to realize that the sensationalism which is so much part of this culture requires that we keep the drama going in order to feel alive. The plain truth does not energize us the way some gossip can. By the time many of us learn to be more selective about the kinds of energy we want in our lives, we may have formed the habit of `trying to step on others in order to try to get over.'”
Gossiping is a way for people to evaluate information, which shouldn’t ruin a person’s life, contends Dr. Valerie D. Scott, director of the graduate program in counseling psychology at the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey.
“Everybody cares about what others say about us. It’s a natural process and really not something people can very easily stop doing because it’s the sharing of information about other people,” explains the past president of the New Jersey chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists. “It is to our advantage to have this intense interest in other people. We share information for a lot of reasons. It’s how we connect. How we learn.”
She points out that “gossip carries a negative connotation,” but people should realize that gossip can also be true, which does make an impact on a person.
“In some ways it can hurt and create problems in a relationship. There can be messages given that hurt people. As social animals we don’t want to be put out of the group or looked at badly. Everybody cares what others say about us.”
Acclaimed motivational speaker Willie Jolley, author of It Only Takes A Minute To Change Your Life! and A Setback Is A Setup For A Comeback, believes that gossip can ruin a person’s life depending upon how it is handled.
“People are going to talk about you and say things about you. You have a choice of how to respond. Your attitude and thoughts about yourself control you and how you feel about yourself and how you respond,” says Jolley. “You have a choice of how you handle stuff. When life throws you a curve ball, you can react or respond. When you react, you’re talking about a negative action, but when you respond there is a positive impact.”
He says that those who gossip do so because it makes them feel important. “Small people talk about people. Their joy comes from talking about others. They can make a career out of it. But, big people talk about ideas. When [those who gossip] change their focus from people to ideas, they will grow personally because the best way to build a future is to build yourself.”
COPYRIGHT 2001 Johnson Publishing Co.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group