Talking shit, gossiping, or talking badly about others is something we are subjected to all throughout our lives, to the point it may seem normal.
When we were kids we could hear our parents talking trash on neighbors and relatives, in school we witnessed kids gossiping about others, and as adults the gossip and trash talking doesn’t stop. It might be masked better with passive aggressive comments, snickering and normalized gossip magazines, but it doesn’t stop.
We may be so used to trash talking and gossip that we don’t even realize we are doing it. But just because it’s normalize, doesn’t mean it’s good. Gossip and trash talk is unproductive and keeping you stuck. So you need to be aware of it, and how you respond to it, if you want to be happy and live a fulfilling life.
In this article we will talk about:
- 7 reasons why trash talking and gossip are negatively impactful,
- 7 reasons why we trash talk,
- how to stop trash talking,
- an example of not trash talking; and
- how to respond in an empowering way if the trash talking is about you.
Why Trash Talking Is Negatively Impactful
Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.
- Gets you Stuck. If you don’t want to face something difficult, you may occupy your mind with gossip over celebrities or other people. This may make you feel good in the moment, but like with any procrastination, it will hurt you in the long run. Because you aren’t evaluating and improving yourself, you’re evaluating others.
- Breads Negativity. Kind, happy, well-rounded people don’t gossip or talk shit on others, they’re too busy living their best life. Trash talking makes you feel negative and spreads negativity because it stems from negativity.
- Creates Anxiety. Trash talking and gossip creates anxiety because when you trash talk others you start to assume others are trash talking you. So if someone makes a weird face you may think it’s because they don’t like you, when really it’s because they just farted.
- Unhealthy Social Connections. Trash talking can feel fun. And it can make us feel connected to others when we trash talk the same person. But connecting over trash talking is a negatively impactful social connection.
- Encourages Self-Hatred. Not having love for others shows a lack of love and compassion for self. So “hating” someone or talking badly about them is a lack of self-love and self-compassion.
- Unproductive Thinking. Trash talking is riddled with cognitive distortions. For example, gossip and trash talk typically maximizing negative attributes, and reduces a person to on one action. If you have this mentality about others you will also think that way about yourself.
- Highlight Insecurities. When you talk trash you lose sight of our wants and needs because you are so preoccupied with needing to be liked. People who are secure with themselves don’t gossip or trash talk.
Why People Talk Trash
People talk trash for many reasons which can include:
- not realizing it’s negatively impactful for them and others
- not knowing any better
- thinking it’s normal
- following others who trash talk and gossip
How to Not Trash Talk
The first step in changing any destructive behavior is admitting you do it. Of course it’s uncomfortable to admit that you do something that’s negative, but if you want to change, you need to come to terms with the fact that you aren’t perfect and have room to grow.
With the growth mentality, you can then look out for times when you have the urge to trash talk or are around others who gossip. If some of your friends are used to gossiping you may not stop that, but you can stop contributing to the gossip, try to steer the conversation, or remove yourself from it.
Remind yourself that people make mistakes and one action does not define an entire person. Also, remind yourself that you are a work in progress and that stopping the trash talking now will benefit your entire life for the future.
Example of Not Trash Talking
Not trash talking, gossiping, or talking shit doesn’t mean you can never talk about others (or that you only talk positively about others and ignore their faults). It means you talk about them differently.
Here’s an example:
A few months ago I was ghosted—it sucked. I called a friend to vent and had the urge to trash talk the ghost (call him a piece of shit, say he fucking sucks—you know…). But I stopped myself, because I knew while trash talking would make me feel good at the moment, it would not help me long term.
Obviously I liked the person who ghosted. I mean, I was hanging out with them. So there was good there. They just weren’t able to communicate in how I needed.
So I acknowledged that ghosting was a douchebag thing for him to do (not that he was a douche—see the difference?), that I am better off and that going forward I need someone who is a better communicator.
Instead of trash talking or gossiping and putting myself on a negative mindset (by talking negatively about someone else), I focused on validating my feelings, working through the disappointment and focusing on my wants and needs.
Showing compassion for another person strengthened the compassion I have for myself. I moved on and when the ghost reappeared (as they typically do) I thanked him for his apology and ignored his request to go to dinner.
When the Trash Talking Is Directed Towards You
We talked about not trash talking others, but what do we do when others are trash talking us?
It’s best to not respond when the trash talking is about you, because trash talk is a low vibration and negatively impacts our mental and emotional well-being. We need to focus on what we want, not on the insecurities of others.
But that’s not how we are taught.
It seems the common societal response to trash talking is to act tough and tell people to: “say that shit to my face”. It may seem like with this response you are asserting dominance and strength, but you’re actually reducing your empowerment.
I say, fuck that. If someone has a problem with me or wants to trash talk I’d prefer they keep it to themselves. If they really can’t control themselves, then I prefer they say it behind my back. Because I genuinely don’t care and don’t have time for their drama or insecurities. That’s confidence and empowerment!
On the other hand, if someone has an issue with me, or if they feel I did something that hurt them and they come to me directly to address it, I am more than happy to discuss and I appreciate the feedback and opportunity to correct the slight!
Of course there are extreme instances where trash talk might negatively affect me. Like if someone was untruthful and told a person I’m dating that I was unfaithful, or if someone told my boss an untruth that could cost me my job. In those instances, I will address the trash talker and misunderstanding directly.
But unless there are repercussion that will keep me from my goals, I am more than happy to have the trash talk go on behind my back. Because while others are busy trash talking me, I’m focused on developing positive thought habits and being happy.
It’s literally to the point that I don’t think anyone has trashed talked me in ages because I don’t pay any attention to it, I choose to be oblivious.
Trash Talking and Gossip Isn’t Personal
Just like almost everything else, trash talk and gossip isn’t personal, so we need to not take it personally. Make sure to see trash talking and gossip for what it is, a distraction bread from insecurities and unproductive thought habits that are keeping you stuck.
Now go live long and prosper!
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto