When You're The Target of Gossip
We live in a world that is largely manipulated via communication. Gossip, heresay, whispers, rumors and dirt have been around probably since humans first began talking. I bet if we thought about it hard enough, we could find an example with 'Adam and Eve' correlated to gossip. It's fun to think about, right?
The question isn't if people will talk about you behind your back, it's when. When it's negative communication, it'd be nice to know what course of action to talk, wouldn't it? A few things come to mind. The first is to do nothing at all. Hope in humanity would lead us to believe that if people really wanted to know the truth about you, they'd take the time to experience your behaviors first-hand. These people exist but the world isn't overly populated with them. Doing nothing at all does a couple of great things: it lets them know that you aren't really phased and they'll most likely move on to the next juicy story. Also we need to remember, the person that started the rumor lies...and it's pretty easy to lie. Confronting them just gives them more ammunition to continue their muddy version of you to others. This leads to the second gain received by doing nothing - by doing nothing, you're distancing yourself from them. The less they know about you, the safer you are from character assassination via gossip.
Another important aspect to gossip stems from awareness around the real issue. And here's the good news, it's not you - it's them. People who gossip do it to manipulate/control others. This stems from a lack in their character, not yours. It's easier to be less upset when we understand that the information is coming from a pretty shallow source rather.
What happens when our lives are legit disturbed by Gossip? It's easy to say that their opinion of you doesn't matter but the fact remains that gossip does effect life. Rumors, whispers (gossip) will effect connections of all types, relationships, job opportunities, status in school, status in work and even status in your community (*see political commercials for example). Gossip can damage peoples perceptions of themselves which leads to mental issues of anxiety, eating disorders and depression. In this day and age, gossip has the means of traveling more quickly and efficiently than ever thanks to cell phones and computers. Which is why this message is so important.
I give clients a choice in therapy - I can be nice, or I can be honest. If you're wanting 'honest', continue reading. If you want nice, stop now and smile to yourself knowing that you've gained insight on gossip.
Rumors can't be spread without you.
Here's what most people miss about 'gossip'. In general, people are content to listen and nod when they have the chance to hear dirt on someone else. We enable the rumor-mill by giving no real thought towards verifying anything. Ever wonder why you don't put a lot of energy into discovering the truth about it? Well, here's why; Negative Gossip is used by people to manipulate. That said, only specific people are given 'the dirt'. You are chosen very carefully. It's likely that if you're the one that's being given the 'dirt', you were targeted as someone likely to accept the information as valid...or true enough not to dig into it too far. This means, the person hearing the whispers (and just accepting them as valid enough) is reflecting the same integrity and character as the person that started the communication chain. Now that's good stuff.
Until next time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC
A Poem 20 Years Old.
This poem written by me 20 years ago is a great indicator of where I used to live emotionally. Yikes!
Mood swings, they go up and down
And they flop all over like a roller coaster.
I want to throw up when I'm down in a slump,
It's alive with no sound on a merry-go-round.
But not quite so merry, it's all quite contrary,
To be stable I falter, like a teeter totter.
I'm a hang, I'm a noose,
On a train with no caboose.
When I'm down, I frown.
But when I'm up I take flight,
Like a bolt of streaking light I fly straight up through the night,
Can't bring me down or do me wrong 'cause I'm up where I belong.
Still, whilst in between the ups and lows,
I'm okay - but I always knows
That my future mood, just like the wind
Will blow, where it blows.
We live in a world where every-day life consists of transferring money. We know where we're sending our funds and have expectations associated with the transfer. Transference in Psychology is kind of the same and kind of different. The transfer happens alright, but the problem stems from our unawareness around when it happens and the direction is flows. We give out emotions without recognizing where it's really intended to go. Huge problem, right? Can you imagine if your bank account could just start sending out Benjamins to who knows where at any point of the day? Talk about ANXIETY! Stresses me out just thinking about it.
Well, we do that exact thing in the form of emotional transference every - single - day. Freud (AKA 'the Father of Modern Psychology') came up with this concept and, although it pains me to say it because I'm not the biggest Freud fan - it's valid. We absolutely give out emotions unwittingly to people. "The classic use of the term transference comes from psychoanalysis and includes: “the redirection of feelings and desires and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood toward a new object.” We all do this all the time. A boss at work reminds you of your cranky grandmother, so you cower accordingly. The guy next to you on the train reminds you of your college friend Stan so you crack a joke that Stan would appreciate, to the train-stranger's bewilderment."
Did you catch the Freud scent? It's in the whole, "especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood". But does it have to be from Childhood? I don't think so. Does it stem from a place of unawareness - yes. The important piece to gain out of this new insight you're gaining is that now you can start connecting you're feeling a certain 'vibe' towards someone else as a potential unwarranted transfer or emotions. Now you're more prepared not to give out your emotional funds in ignorance. Don't forget, 'Transference' isn't just negative emotions! They can be positive emotions too. Do you like them more than you should? Do you absolutely not trust them for some reason? Do you feel intimidated or insecure around a certain person or crowd? These can all be the result, or a reflection of a past experience with a completely different person.
My favorite part of the term 'transference' is putting in the 'counter'. Counter-transference takes place when insight is beginning and we're able to start identifying potential transference issues that are taking place. Kind of like you're able to finally monitor your bank for emotional transfers. Think of it as 'countering' a move in chess. Transference makes a move and you counter the move with awareness. Begin taking the 'transference' out of your unconsciousness and start countering the transference by asking yourself, "who does this person remind me of?" Or, "what does this situation remind me of?" Just start being curious as to why you're feeling or having more than rational emotions towards things.
See more on this by visiting my youtube 'meaning to live therapy tips' channel.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and schedule an appointment to learn more about how Transference may be effecting your life.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC