Do not pay back injury for injury or insult for insult. Instead, repay with a blessing, for you were called to this course, so that you might inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9
Recently I attended a function that I had to be at, and it included being around some people that had really hurt me with harmful gossip and it was a very, very difficult day. My goals at dealing with them graciously, were made more challenging, because I was having panic attacks and I didn’t handle everyone as graciously as I would have liked. I came home that night tired and sore inside. And I cried and I prayed and I opened up my bible and I found comfort and reminders that helped me refocus and recommit to how I want to be in this situation.
Most of the time you’ll probably just be able to fluff off most negative talk. But sometimes it may last longer and be harder to deal with, because there are persons determined to break others into pieces. Proverbs 18:24. Its hard because negative gossip hits you on a personal and emotional level, from people you should be able to trust.
If it involved some random person on the street spouting accusations at you, then you could just sort of steer clear of them, but most gossip happens in necessary social situations like your congregation, school, workplace, and neighborhood, so you have to have a plan to deal with it, that includes interacting with those people in those groups in a positive and constructive way. So in writing this I decided to get some help from our little friend the Ant and his troublesome rubber tree plant!
Accentuate the positive: It may not seem like it, but there are some positive things that can come out of this situation. 1. You are going to find out who your real friends are, who you can trust, who’s got your back, and you will become closer to them. 2. Unfortunately you have been put in the position of having to be the better person. You are being talked about in a negative way and people are trying to make other people believe that you are not a good person, that you are not worthy, that you’re doing something wrong, and there’s all sorts of things that people can look for to put you down. Again unfortunately, there’s no way you can have an affidavit written up that proves that you’re a good, kind, honest person to prove them wrong. This is why negative gossip works, its mostly based on assumptions and faultfinding, not on tangible realities that could be easily disproved. People tend to believe what they want to believe, they like to feel that they are superior to someone, and because everyone is imperfect, its easy to find imperfections. So then your proof is going to have to be yourself. YOU are going to have to be kinder, YOU are going to have to forgive more, YOU are going to have to be more patient, YOU are going to have to be more loving, and when YOU come out on the other side of this, YOU are going to be given a beautiful gift of becoming a much better person than you were when all this started. 3. Your self-esteem and your trust in God will be greater than it was before. Because in order to get through this graciously I believe that its necessary to believe in a higher power. You have to believe that God cares about you, that he wants the best for you and that he is willing to use his strong arm of protection to keep you emotionally and spiritually and physically safe from the people who want to do harm to you.
Eliminate the negative: It doesn’t really seem like you can do that when you’re in the middle of dealing with this. You may go through some shock, pain, anger and grief, because of people that told you they loved you, and then did their best to prove that they don’t. It’s not really fair, but the ONLY way to get through to the other side, is to forgive them. Forgiving is not condoning what they have done, it’s letting go of bitterness and anger, it’s in not letting your heart seek revenge. It’s praying for and blessing those that have hurt you unjustly. However, it comes with God’s happiness and blessing, it let’s God’s spirit flow through you and it’s the fastest, easiest and healthiest way to heal.
Latch onto the affirmative: Positive affirmation is support, comfort and encouragement. Find someone that you trust to be discreet, that you can pour your heart out to. A wise person that can give good advice and help to find our way through. Kind spiritual leaders can be a great source of support. Prayer. Go to God in prayer and tell him everything. How you feel, how much it hurts, your doubts, your hopes, your faults can all be poured out to him. Then go to the Bible and let Him talk to you. Seach through and find Gods comfort, His acknowledgement that He cares about you, that your tears are something that He remembers, and that He understands how much it hurts. Remember that he has been the victim of slander himself. The devil continues to lie about him and spread the ideas that God doesn’t exist, that He doesn’t care about humans and that He won’t do anything to help you, but that isn’t true and because God understands how we feel He’s been through it Himself, He will be there especially for you, to give you comfort and courage to keep moving forward.
And don’t mess with Mr. In-Between: 1. If someone comes to you with gossip info its up to you to decide if you want to address the gossip. Sometimes people come to you because they’re concerned about you, and sometimes they come just to see how you will react to the news that you’re the object of negative talk. I believe that most of the time it’s best to not discuss it, unless you absolutely trust that person. 2. Confronting gossips generally leads to more trouble then it’s worth. Like poking a hornets nest. They become defensive, more gossip will ensue to discredit you. They will find an excuse to blame you for their bad behavior, and will probably accuse you of disturbing the peace. I know it’s not fair, but that’s the way it goes. People who use negative power are usually immature and manipulative and that’s probably who you would be dealing with, not someone that owns their mistakes and then tries to change for the better.
Stay calm, take some time to take care of yourself and plan how you can graciously deal with others. Give yourself some love and encourage yourself and pamper yourself a little. If people are gossiping because you have done something thoughtless or foolish, own it humbly. Apologize to anyone you may have wronged. Stay humble and learn to laugh at your mistakes. Forgive yourself and others. Pray for support and understanding. Every person makes mistakes. Remember that you are worthy of every good thing. You are worthy to have your dreams come true too. Never give up hope that God will help others “get” you. Always be kind and give them a blessing.