Addiction to GossipBy Dr. Margaret Paul
November 08, 2010
Are you addicted to gossiping about others or do you know others who gossip? Discover the underlying cause of gossiping.
"I'm a little confused. My mother is visiting me, and sometimes we have a nice time together. But often her way of bonding with me or anyone else is to talk about other people's problems. Most of the time I find it draining. It feels like she is never happy and uses her 'caring' and problem solving abilities to avoid something else."The questioner's understanding of this situation may be exactly what is happening - his mother is likely using her addiction to gossip as a way of connecting with her son and avoiding her own emptiness and aloneness that is the result of her self-abandonment.
I had a phone session with Gil over this very same issue.
"After Mindy and I come back from a social event, or have a social event at our house, we often spend time gossiping about other people, judging them fairly harshly. I don't know why we do this. It kind of feels good at the time, but after I notice that I feel badly."
"What feels good at the time?"
"I guess it feels good to our ego wounded self to feel like we are one up to these people, and it gives us something to connect about."
"And what feels bad after?"
"I think it doesn't feel good to my inner child to think badly about others. He doesn’t like me to be judgmental and it makes him feel kind of empty."
"What do you think you are avoiding feeling when you are gossiping with Mindy?"
"Well….I think that most of the time I'm not as caring toward others as I really want to be, so I end up feeling kind of alone and empty and lonely around other people. I want to connect with them but I think I'm so afraid of rejection that I hold back. Maybe I gossip with Mindy to try to feel better, and it works for the moment, but then I end up feeling worse."
Gossip is like any other addiction - it is a way of avoiding responsibility for your feelings, and can be used by the wounded self as a way to connects with others. The wounded self has numerous ways of trying to connect with others other than being truly authentic and caring, such as drinking together, smoking pot together, ridiculing others together, or even using things like food to get a sense of closeness without having to be authentic. Gossip is another one of the ways the wounded self tries to connect and get filled up externally when you are abandoning yourself.
"Gil, it sounds like you want to connect with Mindy but that you don't know how to do it without gossiping - is that right?"
"I do want to connect with her and others, and I'm not sure how to do it."
"The problem is that it is hard to connect with others when you are disconnected from yourself. It ends up being a vicious circle. You disconnect from your own feelings, which makes your inner child feel alone and abandoned inside, which then leads to a fear of rejection, which then leads to you holding back who you are. This won't change until you are willing to practice staying present in your own body with your own feelings and taking responsibility for them rather than avoiding them with gossip and other addictions. This is what the practice of Inner Bonding® is all about - learning how to take responsibility for your own feelings so that you have love and caring to share with others."
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When being loving, we are not grasping, demanding, needy or clingy, because love has nothing to do with getting or taking. We give freely, to ourselves and to others. We also receive graciously when the gift is freely given. When being unloving, we may try to manipulate a gift - whether it be of time, money, attention, emotional support, approval, sex or affection - but when we are loving we know that a gift not freely given is not really a gift. Notice when you are being loving or unloving.
By Dr. Margaret Paul