Menu
Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!

How to Stop Gossiping and Creating Drama

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind” –Buddha

Last week my 20-year-old friend, Dustin, called me out when I was talking negatively about someone to a group of people.

We were sitting around a dinner table at what should have been a really good planning meeting for an upcoming yoga workshop our group was holding.

While we were excited about the out-of-town teachers who were coming to share their incredible knowledge with us for a week, we were stuck on a topic that was both irrelevant and unproductive. That topic even had a name.

For the purpose of this piece I will call her “Jessica.” She practiced with us from time to time, an in spite of the fact that she wasn’t a regular, when she did come her practice brought drama and disruption to the harmony we were trying to create.

When she didn’t show up for a class, no one seemed to mind all that much or try to get her back in the fold.

Yet somehow on this night when we had so much coming up in less than two weeks, there was Jessica invading our conversation. I can’t remember who first brought her up, but I have to admit, I think I was the one belly-aching the most about her and what she may or may not have done.

Finally Dustin quietly piped up. “Can I say something?” he asked the group.

All eyes turned to Dustin with shock because he so rarely spoke and was never, ever, ever confrontational.

“I don’t want to offend anyone, but I have to admit I am really tired of hearing about Jessica and what she did and didn’t do. She doesn’t really matter tonight. Our focus should be on all of this stuff we have to get ready and our energy would be best spent there wouldn’t it? Besides we’re just sitting here saying negative things about her in this beautiful space where we’re supposed to be preparing something really positive.”

As he spoke his normally soft voice grew louder and a smile broke out on his face. After he rambled on for another minute he got a little self-conscious then said, “Wow. That felt good. I have never spoken up against a group like that.”

He was right. Being double his age and often the leader of the group, I realized at that moment how much I had been a participant in all of this unnecessary talk about Jessica.

Not only was it catty, but also it was just negative words filling the normally peaceful air around us.

And what’s more, Jessica wasn’t there to defend herself. The conversation we were having was doing nothing to enhance our lives, only taking away.

With that we put the image of Jessica away, and with it cleaned the space for another hour, getting rid of cobwebs, dust, and bad vibes (some of which we had obviously created in our little rant).

For some reason, that experience with Dustin had a profound effect on me for the next few days.

I realized that the ritualistic practice we had all been engaging in is most commonly referred to as “gossip” and it’s not a good habit. While women get accused of it regularly, I have known plenty of men to participate and even fuel the fire quite well, as had been the case that night.

Today I decided it’s time to create a new practice in my life when I find myself engaging in conversation which waivers dangerously toward the “g” word.

1. When you find yourself repeating a name over and over again in a story, stop after the second repeat (even if it’s a different story) and ask yourself how bringing this up is bettering the world.

2.  If you are repeating a story about someone, pause for a moment and take some time to think about that person. What is at the root of the problem there? Could you be so annoyed by it because it’s familiar to you and might be a practice you are guilty of, too?

3. If you find that someone is constantly challenging your world in a way that doesn’t feel positive to you, can you remove that person from your life? If it’s your mother-in-law maybe not, but how can you work through or around this challenge?

4.  If this person is someone who is going to continue to be in your life for a very long time it’s important that you don’t let the stories become just that—stories. Tell them over and over and they morph and grow more fantastic with time. Look at what’s important in that moment, focus on that, and let the gossip roll away.

5.  If you absolutely must talk about this person, give yourself a time limit. Look at a clock on the wall. Tell the story in 1-2 minutes. Wrap it up. Change the topic.

Doesn’t that feel good just thinking about it?

Photo here

Avatar of Shanti Sosienski

About Shanti Sosienski

Shanti Sosienski is a freelance writer, website developer, producer, event organizer, flying yoga teacher and has a few other hats she wears. She loves people of all shapes and sizes and has 1958 Facebook friends that she actually knows. Check her out at www.thekohacenter.com.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://twitter.com/URBAN_FLRT Urban_FLRT

    Very powerful write-up. Thank you for sharing. – http://site.urbanflrt.com/blog/category/living-well/spiritual/

  • guest

    it takes a lot of strength to accept our faults and improve ourselves….thank you so much for showing me a way!

  • Cdhuntstl

    Best advice I’ve ever received … if I have an issue/problem/complaint with someone – speak ONLY to them about it. Otherwise, it isn’t really their issue … it’s mine. :-)

  • Dan

    Awesome as always :) such an easy trap to get caught in… And such a wasteful one.

  • http://twitter.com/pushbuttonkitty Emily Parker

    I wish I could print this and put it up in the teacher’s lounge.

  • CapriciousYogi

    Great advice and great reminders! I think we often get caught in this cycle without even knowing it. It’s part of our nature, but something we can definitely work on and get better at! Thanks for sharing!

  • guest

    Excellent reminder, thank you.

  • Mbow902

    Excellent insight and wisdom. It is easy to become caught up in negative patterns of thinking and actions. Your points were very helpful!

  • http://twitter.com/caiquelessa Caique

    How many times we catch ourselves doing that? Even the most spiritual person falls into that trap eventually. We need to watch ourselves every day. Talking negative things about people can really ruin our days. How strong is that bad energy we’re creating? When something is bad it doesn’t deserve mentions at all.

    Really good advices, Shanti. # 2,3 & 5 are my favorites. Definitely using them :)

  • Crundwell

    bravo the advice of the year,again bravo

  • Tobias

    And thank you for sharing how you were at fault and corrected it. It’s easy to point out how others cause drama, but few can see it in themselves.

  • Dustin

    very nice shanti!, turns out i am dustin and that was an amazing night! thank you so much for your story and your wisdom! you are a beautiful soul.
    -dustin

  • Shanti

    Awwww Dustin it’s friends like you who keep me straight and real!

  • Shanti

    Please do print it and post it! It was a great lesson for me!!! Spread it and let’s stop lame gossip!

  • Shanti

    I have been drama mama enough times that I think it’s about time I pay attention.

  • Gabrielle

    This reminds me of what happened to me the other day when a friends I respect very much just blatantly judged a girl we both are acquainted with and described her as “ew, really fat”. I took offense for her because more than any physical flaws, that was far more unappealing and noticeable.

    My only “thing” is: Is it okay to cut people out? I understand some people just aren’t good to be around but who will be the positive influence in their life then?

  • erin

    Just this week, I was going through this at work. No more participating or passing negative gossip for me.

  • Cath

    Excellent advice for a happy life. Thank you.

  • j-ster

    Gossiping about other people, and being critical of them, is a way of finding common ground with others, and of building up intimacy as you share information that is a little bit dangerous and private. I used to do it a lot in my relationships. The problem is that it is a negative common ground, and a false intimacy that deflects attention from the fact that the people involved aren’t actually sharing anything about themselves. I try really hard not to do it any more, and Im happy to say it doesn’t happen anywhere as much as it used to, but it still happens. The good thing is tho, it is no longer a guilty pleasure, it actually feels quite uncomfortable.

  • j-ster

    I have the same question. Im not so worried about who will be their positive influence later tho… But what to do with the person you just don’t want to spend time with anymore? Cutting them out seems so cold.

  • Pingback: Buddha Shanti Long

  • S_farag

    Badly needed.

  • mionna

    MY NAME IS MIONNA KNOX and i want people to stop bulling me because i am on my last nerve to where i am go to kill my self.

  • OnlyLove

    Thank you. I have really been hating myself for the last 24 hours over a rant I went on that I viewed as venting at the time. My boyfriend told me that it bothered him because I kept going on about this person to a third party. It was about someone we both care about and both get frustrated with. I am proud of my boyfriend for calling me out and grateful that he keeps me in check when I am not being a kind person. I do not like gossip and try to avoid it but I was guilty of engaging in it the other night and it makes me feel horrible that I let myself go down that road with such passion. It has been eating me up and I feel ashamed that he and I both saw an ugly side of me. It is in the past now and all I can do is change my actions for the future. I really appreciate the post and all the comments, makes me feel a wee bit better :)