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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The little voice inside our head.



No, I am not talking about God, crazy people, our conscious or our parents. (Although our parent's voices seem to eerily creep into our heads frequently)

What I am talking about is that little voice inside our head that tells us that others may be talking about us. Judging us. Gossiping.

Wouldn't we all like to be a fly on the wall at times? To hear what other's say about us behind our backs?

And wouldn't they be shocked to hear what we have to say. Even about those closest to us.

We all do it. Most times it is not meant to be malicious. Many times it seems to me that we are all trying to judge our own opinions with what other's think. So we talk about things and people to get other's reactions. To see if we are all on the same page. If we have common ground.

But is that a good place to be? A good way to connect? I am not sure.

Sometimes it gets mean. And hurtful. Of course it is not meant to be heard by the person being talked about. Most people would be mortified to know that the target overhead the conversation.

And that leads me to wonder why then. Why people do it in the first place.

I know, I ask myself that very same question. And I am not always sure that I know the answer. However, I am constantly telling my daughter, who is 11, not to talk about people behind their backs.

Her response? "Mom, everyone does it."

And indeed she is right.

They do.

I have not met one person in my lifetime, including myself, who has not talked about another person in a thoughtless way at least once. Except my Grandmother, but she was in her 90's when I finally paid attention to what she was saying. And when I tuned in, it was always nice talk about things or flowers or poetry or art. She seemed to find good in everything and everyone. Maybe age does bring wisdom. Or maybe she had her fill of it all and decided that it was not worth it anymore.

Who knows, really.

When my dad was alive and in his late 70's, early 80's, after my mom passed away, he went to live in an Adult Community, an Assisted Living Center. It was anything but adult. The gossip. The nonsense. Everyone was kind of mean. It was like 7th grade all over again.

I see it still when I go to visit patients there. I just don't get it.

Even my dad jumped in. He would tell me stories about other residents. He would say that everyone was "old" or even "ugly". He talked about the staff as well. Perhaps he was bored, or angry at life. But it was quite disturbing to me.

He was the one that would always reprimand me when he overheard me talking about others. That was back when I would have those marathon conversations on the phone in my teens. He would tell me that it wasn't nice. To stop it. That it was a really bad thing to do.

When I complained and cried about other's talking about me, my mom would say, "Well, if they are talking about you then they are leaving someone else alone." I hated that advice. I would have preferred to have been the one left alone.

And I still do.

I am not sure why we have this little voice in our head that makes us a wee bit paranoid about what others are thinking. Or saying. And why sometimes thoughts that should clearly remain in our heads without a voice, come out of our mouths too loudly. Sometimes with much regret.

Do we really have to say that someone has gained weight? Or looks bad. Or seems different. Or bought something new yet again. Why state the obvious? Why are we always judging? Do we need to say these things to feel better about ourselves?

Why can't we just be happy for people? If they have a good life and seem content, why do they become fodder for gossip? Why tear them down? Jealousy? Anger?

And if they do have a bad run of luck or a fall from grace, where is our compassion?

I am not sure.

I do know that I try not to talk about people unless I can find something good to say. But I am not very good at always following that rule, try as I may.

And I always feel terrible afterwards. It is just not worth it. It makes me feel very bad about myself, never better.

So I guess that I have to come to terms with the fact that people will and do talk about me behind my back. And that I will talk about them as well.

And that little voice inside of my head that tells me not to worry about it? I ignore it. I still worry. And I know many others do as well.

I am not sure that I have any answers to this. I do know that some say to just 'toughen up'. But I am not sure that we can ever really do that. Many people just put on a fake bravado. Tough on the outside, weeping on the inside.

The only thing that I do know for sure is how it makes me feel. And it makes me feel bad. And sad. It does not make me angry, unless the gossip is directed at my daughter or my husband. Then the claws come out a bit.

And what I usually do is just retreat. Get away from people for a while. Heal my wounds a bit. Surround myself with my loved ones who accept me regardless of my faults or my weight or whatever.

I guess that is the best that we can do.

__________________________________________________

What is told in the ear of a man is often heard 100 miles away. ~Chinese Proverb

“If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.” ~Albert Einstein

“A gossip is one who talks to you about others; a bore is one who talks to you about himself; and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself” ~Lisa Kirk

The biggest liar in the world is They Say. ~Douglas Malloch

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