Over the years I have come to learn that it is best to keep my negative opinions about others to myself.
At the end of the day it doesn’t advance anyone for me to tear down another person’s reputation.
I know many may say that there are times when they are trying to warn others about someones behavior and perhaps they are right. However, for me I have found that when it comes to others that the old adage is true “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.”
With this knowledge in mind I have become highly surprised to notice that I myself have been acting contrary to what I know to be best.
I have found myself wandering over to and engaging in the world of gossip.
It happened when I became frustrated by the behaviors of others.
I viewed their actions as weaknesses and I did what many of us like to call “a little venting”.
The truth is I could have taken my concerns to my private journal, I could have rolled the thought around privately in my mind or if need be and I was truly seeking advice I am certain I could have taken my thoughts to someone outside of the situation and sought counsel on how I can better interact with the people who I found to be bothersome.
But no, I didn’t do that.
Rather I engaged in a bit of backbiting, down right dirty gossip and I even threw in a nice dose of nasty sarcasm for extra seasoning.
Now, I find my behavior unacceptable for several reasons, but there is one in particular that I put above all others.
On a spiritual level I believe we are all one. I believe we are all connected to the Divine.
So I am indeed my brother’s keeper.
When I speak ill of my fellow man, I am speaking ill of God’s creation and when I speak ill of God’s creation I am showing dishonor to the Creator.
Now I recognize that there is a time to speak the truth and critique the behavior of another.
But that isn’t what I was doing.
I wasn’t speaking the truth in love.
I was putting someone else down.
I even caught myself saying things like “I would never do anything like that.”
The funny thing is I know all to well that life has a way of showing us ourselves.
Often the very thing that we say we would NEVER do we either have done, are doing or will do in some shape or form.
When I was a kid my mother used to tell me and my sister to be careful what we say we will NEVER do, because life has a way of showing us what we will or won’t do.
Our ego would have us to think we are better than everyone else.
But I can assure you our ego is wrong.
It is our ego that likes to say:
I would never show up late for work.
I would never go into that much debt.
I would never allow my child to disrespect me like that.
I would never be married to someone who had those types of problems.
I would never live in that type of neighborhood.
I would never engage in that type of behavior.
And so on and so forth.
I am very mindful of the teaching that I learned from my mother and I have found her words of caution to be true.
The things I say I would NEVER do in judgment of others has came knocking at my door and showed me to never say never.
My decision to speak negatively about another person wasn’t warranted.
I didn’t speak those words with the purpose of building them up. It wasn’t my desire to edify them, critique them or provide correction or instruction.
No, I simply said it because I was frustrated with their behavior and I felt like my behavior was superior to theirs and therefore I was justified in spreading my negativity.
That moment of backbiting didn’t do anything to improve the human condition.
It wasn’t necessary.
It didn’t make me a better person nor did it improve them.
Am I saying that it is not okay to point out the errors of others.
No, not at all.
There is a time and a place for everything.
But the words I spoke about them were not said to their face.
And my goal in saying them wasn’t for their correction.
Ultimately, what I said was done to spread negativity about their reputation.
It doesn’t matter if everyone else was in agreement with me.
I was out of place, I was out of line and I should have refrained.
If I really wanted to help the person, I should have pulled them to the side and politely spoken to them about my observations and concerns.
And yet, I never confronted them.
I just put negative words into the atmosphere and contributed to the destruction of another person’s reputation.
Ironically in putting them down I soiled my own reputation.
My motivation for speaking ill of them wasn’t for their advancement and there was no profit for me for all I did was dim my own light.
There was a time in my life when I was surrounded by gossipers and I actively engaged in the activity myself.
Thankfully I made the decision to actively work to remove myself from those who gossip.
And now here I am noticing that I have allowed negative talk back into my life.
The thing about gossipers is that if you don’t contribute and you make it clear that you don’t feel comfortable speaking about others when they are not present that they will stop seeking you out for gossip sessions.
Some way, some how I have inserted myself into the world of gossip and some way, some how I plan to get out.
This is because it doesn’t led to anywhere I want to go.
I am no better than the person I chose to speak negatively about.
Tearing down another human being doesn’t build me up.
It simply makes me look bad.
The Bible teaches us that the power of life and death lies in the tongue and the the tongue is sharper than a two edged sword.
That sentiment is echoed in Miguel Ruiz’s book the Four Agreements, where he speaks towards the importance of being impeccable with your word. He explains that your word is a gift that comes directly from God and gives you the power to create.
I have decided to speak life.
I have decided to love myself enough to put a watch over my mouth and work more diligently to edify others and refrain from backbiting.
I don’t want to be apart of the destruction of another human being.
I recognize that their downfall is my own.
When I put down another, I put down myself.
When I lift up another, I lift up myself.
It is my hearts desire to love myself enough to stop putting myself down and start lifting myself up.
It is my goal that if I want to correct someone I will speak my truth in love. If I have to go to a higher authority I will do it not for revenge but for the ultimate purpose of helping everyone involved to include the perpetrator. Because I know that I cannot build myself up while tearing another down.
© Renata Pittman, Renata Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.