Psychologists have come up with 8 tips to help you when dealing with hurtful rumors or gossip. This isn’t something that’s done overnight. It takes time, effort, and dedication, 3 themes you will undoubtedly see for the rest of your lives. Time, effort, and dedication.
1. Regulate your negative emotions
There is only so much you can do about the situations you face, but there is a lot you can do about how you respond to them. Many people initially respond with feelings of horror, anger, anxiety, or even helplessness when confronted with negative gossip about themselves. Taking a moment to step back from these situations and simply label your emotions can be very helpful.
2. Expand your perspective
Because these kinds of situations seem unfair, you feel powerless and can lose sight of the big picture. This is when you need to step back and ask yourself: “What does success mean to you in that moment?” Does it mean winning? Or does it mean regaining that feeling of confidence?”
I would say that this step can be boiled down to the question, what does success mean to you right now?
3. Practice self-compassion
During those difficult moments, you can feel like you’re in a dark place and there’s no way out, but cultivating forgiveness and compassion, can actually be highly effective. Research supports the idea that when you forgive someone, the person who benefits most is you. Forgiveness can help you move on, improve your health and sense of well-being. Holding onto anger may only be hurting you. This can be a great moment where you forgive someone and get the benefits of that, while also showing your level of maturity.
4. De-identify from the situation
Recognize that the situation is not necessarily a reflection of you. People lash out, gossip, and snipe at others to protect their fragile selves. They tear you down to make themselves look slightly better by comparison. Does this mean that everyone else talking about the rumor feels that way? No, they are usually just misinformed and don’t bother fact checking the issue. For years I believed that ostriches buried their heads in sand when they were scared. As it turns out, they stick their heads in sand to find rocks to build with. On top of this being a great Snapple fact, it also shows that I confidently believed something without any bother to look into it further to find the truth.
5. Consider how to respond
If you honestly explain your perspective, and the personal pain that the gossip is causing you, perhaps you can change that person's perspective. Here again, it is important to de-identify from the situation and regulate your emotions. You will want to speak to them after you’ve cooled down and gathered yourself. How many of us have spoken while we are still angry, does it work out well? I know that it never does for me.
6. Give it time
Remember that time is on your side. You have a reputation with your friends. They know who you are. One inconsistency could be harmful as first, but in the long term will be forgotten as many rumors are.
7. Focus on what’s going right
We know that the mind clings to the negative, but research also shows us that every day, more positive things happen to us than negative things. At any given time, many things are going right in our lives. Let’s take a minute to think of some of the positive things happening to us. I will go first, I have a beautiful apartment, and we are less than a month from MLB’s opening day. Spending time feeling grateful for what else is going right in your life will help you weather the rest.
8. Remember that you are not alone
The most challenging aspect of going through a difficult experience is the sense of being alone in it. Knowing that someone is on your side or that a friend has gone through what you are going through can be incredibly helpful.