Bitching is bad for you

Michelle Cashman making lemonade from lemons

Look, sometimes a woman needs to vent.  Sometimes all the internal goings on get a bit too much and it feels like unless we let a little out, we are going to explode.  But there is a difference, quite a large difference, between using a friend as a sounding board to get some support and sort out your stuff, and being, quite frankly, a bitch.  

Talking about people behind their backs is a bit of a pet hate for me.  Unless of course, like I said, I am literally trying to sort out a way to handle a particular situation, I won’t be getting all negative about others.  In fact I would like to think you won’t find me saying nasty things about people for no reason.  I learnt years ago that learning to control the urge to bitch is actually a sign of maturity and helps people to think you’re a good person.  You might not be a good person if you’re still seething and judging on the inside but at least you’re not inflicting that on the world at large.

People  give all sorts of reasoning or justification for bitching about people behind their back. Here’s a few:

1)It’s the truth.  I’m only speaking the truth.

Well, actually, if you want to get technical, you’re only telling your version of the truth because you probably have no idea of their motivations, their insecurities, their lives and struggles.  You are probably taking one chunk of their life and pointing out all the reasons that it sucks that they are like this. 

Yes, there may be some truth in it, but it’s not the whole truth and who are you to judge anyway?  How would you like it if someone took all the shit bits about your character and poked holes in it?  Because unless you’re the next Messiah, chances are you’ve got your own defects of character.  One of them that’s now apparent is that you are a backstabbing bitch.  If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it. 

2)Everybody bitches

Well, again, that’s not the truth.  Maybe everyone YOU know does, but that’s because the people who don’t like talking about people behind their back probably don’t want to hang out with you anymore. 

There are actually people left in the world who have integrity and authenticity.  You just won’t get to know them if you’re talking about others to them because they will probably feel your hater vibe and run the opposite direction.

3)‘They can’t get away with that’.

This is my favourite.  It’s almost like you’re dishing out justice.  Like they’ve done something wrong, so now as superwoman your job is to let the whole world know so they don’t get away with it.  For a start, it makes you look worse than they do because it says you have no grace.  You have no mercy or forgiveness.  It makes YOUR face all twisted and bitter and ugly when you tell the story and if you’ve read any Roald Dahl you should know that it will literally make you ugly.  But not only does bitching about them not do one iota of good, they could go for the next ten years without ever even having a clue that they’ve done something wrong.  If someone has done something wrong by you – grow a spine and talk to them.  Let them know.  Give them the opportunity to apologise.  For all you know they might already be sorry but they’ve heard that you’ve been telling the whole world nasty crap about them.   

There are so many reasons why people talk about people behind their backs but the biggest one, the hidden one that people don’t usually realise is even happening – is a subtle inflation of the ego.  There’s this little fluff off energy that happens as you’re speaking.  So sneaky that sometimes you don’t even notice it.  But there’s some serious chemical reactions going on in your brain.  Bitching is actually addictive.  Putting someone else down, and inflating your own sense of superiority is like taking a drug and the more you do it, the more you need to because while in the moment it feels like you’re the better person, once the chemicals wear off, you’re faced with reality.  You are no more or less of a person because of the actions of someone else.  You are only you.  Now you are left with the ‘you’ that is twisted and bitter and devalues the people around you.  On some level, conscious or not, you have to live with that.

Most people don’t look at it.  I would say in my experience, if a person thinks that bitching is ok, they won’t look at why it isn’t.  They won’t look at why all their friends bitch about them behind their back (of course they are, if you’re doing it all the time, then that’s the kind of people you attract you will not find amazing, good, trustworthy friends because they will be off talking to people that THEY can trust).   Most people won’t notice what’s happening with their ego and self esteem. It’s too subtle.  But trust me, it’s happening.  

There is a joy that is found in appreciating what is around you.  There is a peace and harmony quite like nothing else, found in adding value to other humans.  Looking for their good qualities and pointing them out.  It’s actually rewarding.  It helps you look for the good in yourself.  It grows the character of everyone you encounter because you are telling them not what you hate, but what you value.  Every time you tell someone about a character trait you value, you build it in them.  It calls it out of them almost like magic.  Because we want to please each other.  When we have interactions with one another, we want to express ourselves and connect, but we also want to come away feeling like the other person is pleased with us.  It won’t happen by tearing down everyone else.  It happens by building each other up.

Bitching is contagious too.  I’ve spent way too much time with negative people in the last year.  I have felt it suck the life out of me.  I’ve turned into one of those people that de-value everything around them.  It sucks.  Literally.  I’m so mad at myself because I know better!  It sucks the life force out of me.  I don’t want to do this anymore.  I don’t want to participate in any discussion that has a purpose of destruction.  I refuse to listen to others who do.  Tell me what you do like.  Tell me what’s important to you.  Don’t tell me what you hate.  There’s enough hate in this world already.  I refuse to contribute to it. 

I think that’s another thing that gets to me.  The damage that bitching does to relationships. You might be perfectly happy with the relationship you have with another friend until someone opens up their trap and tells you something you were perfectly happy not knowing.  Our relationships are so fragile as it is, why would we want to add to the brokeness?  Think before you open your mouth… “Does this person really need to know this?”.  If the answer is no, keep your mouth shut!  Unless of course you’re the bridesmaid at a wedding and you know that the bride is about to marry someone you know has been cheating for the last six months.  Um, then you probably should have opened your mouth six months ago.  

I still remember telling my friend in high school “When you talk about her, it doesn’t make me like her less.  It makes me wonder what you’re going to say about me when I leave”.  

Bitching is bad for you. It’s bad for the environment.  It’s bad for your kids.  It’s bad for your relationships and your community.  It’s bad for your health (being a hater gives you ulcers).  It’s makes you ugly.  

So why not be someone who adds value to the world instead?  Why not look for the beautiful? The good?  Why not make comments on all the good things people do?  It’s because it’s harder isn’t it?  That’s because bitching is a habit and it actually impairs your ability to see good things.  Over time it ruins your ability to see clearly.  

I want to see good things.  I want to enjoy my life. I want others to enjoy being around me.  So as of today, no bitching.  If there’s a problem, I will sort it out without whinging or getting all negative.  If it’s not a problem I need to sort, then I will let it go.  If it’s not my business I will keep my opinions to myself. If it’s something someone needs to know I’ll tell them to their face.  If not, then I will let it go.  I will exercise mercy and grace, and know full well that we are all on our own journey, we are all experiencing our own struggles.  I will do my best to help people, not drag them downwards with my words.  

The way I see it your words are only doing one of two things.  Making this world a better place, or making it worse than it has to be. I know what I want to do.

What are you going to do?

 

Michelle Cashman
Passionate storyteller, songwriter, writer and host of the Transformational Personal Growth Podcast on iTunes
Inspire - Educate - Empower

www.michellecashman.com