How to Cope with Gossip About You That Isn’t True
“How to be happy: Ignore people who think they know more about you than you do.”– John Edward
I recently heard some gossip about myself floating around at work.
It came from a trusted colleague. And upon hearing it, I mostly felt sadness, mixed in with some anxiety. Sadness because the claims were simply not true. And anxiety because I felt like I had to defend myself.
The claim? Well, you kind of need some backstory.
Last month, I was the recipient of an award at work. I was shocked that I was chosen, but when reflecting upon it, I was proud of myself. Deep down, I felt that I really deserved it ( and I’m not meaning that in a braggy way).
This past year I overcame challenging obstacles and grew so much. And I was finally seeing that progress come to light.
Work for me in 2022 was filled with frequent long days and countless late nights.
By the summer, I was ultimately faced with taking on my supervisor’s duties after she resigned, while still juggling my own (and I was already drowning in work). I even stepped way beyond my comfort zone and began leading presentations and meetings.
This alone was a huge win for me as it’s something that’s incredibly intimidating to me.
So, what was the false rumor circling around the rumor mill?
Apparently, there were some individuals who felt I wasn’t worthy of the award I received, because all I do is work from home and watch my kids.
It’s true, I do mostly work from home (a benefit from the pandemic that I’m grateful I was able to retain). But I do not have any children – just my two fur babies.
What hurt me the most was that people just assumed it was true – without even knowing me or asking me about it. Even prior to COVID, when I was in the office full-time, most of my colleagues barely spoke to me. How could they possibly know what my day consists of?
But I’m not here to defend myself.
Rather, I want to share the techniques that helped me cope with my personal situation in hopes that they help you.
It may not seem like it but changing the way you think about and approach a situation is hard stuff. Especially if you’re trying to reverse learned behaviors that are years in the making.
The most surprising aspect of my situation was I noticed I was handling it much better than my old self would have.
In the past, I would’ve been absolutely obsessed over every detail making myself sick – even if I knew it wasn’t true. I couldn’t fathom the idea of someone not liking me or believing something about me that was completely false.
Instead, I was now observing the situation rather than reacting to it.
For me, that small victory was something worth celebrating! Only I know my heart, my true nature. And I knew that claim about me – well it isn’t me. I know I’m a hard-worker and I give it my best each and every day.
And in the end, that’s all that matters.
Keep on scrolling to discover ways to cope with gossip about you that isn’t true.
1. Accept the Situation & Let It Go
My #1 approach to gossip is to practice acceptance. And then simply, let go of it.
It’s inevitable that throughout all walks of life, people are going to talk about you. Also, not everyone is going to like you. It doesn’t matter who you are, there is just no way around it.
Instead of obsessing over every single detail, choose to say and do nothing. Just take a step back and reflect over the circumstance.
At the end of the day, the only opinion of yourself that matters are yours and the people you love. If you know in your heart who you are, and you show up as your true self every day, that’s all that is needed. The right people will recognize that.
Once you accept the situation – let it go.
Don’t keep agonizing about it day in and day out. That only makes things worse. Letting go of a situation you cannot change gives you clarity and peace. But most of all it gives you freedom – freedom from what other people think of you.
And if that’s something you struggle with, that is the best kind of freedom.
I know practicing acceptance sounds easier than it really is. But over time, you’ll build the muscle memory that you need for acceptance to be your default approach. After trying it for the first time, you may step back and think “why didn’t I try this years ago?”
But be easy on yourself. We all do the best we can with what we know.
2. Ask Yourself, “What Can I Learn from This?”
Growth is always at your fingertips.
No matter the situation – you can always learn something from it. When it comes to gossip, turn it into something positive by learning from it.
Some questions you can ask yourself are:
- Is there any truth to the rumor?
- If so, is there something you want to improve about yourself or the situation?
- If not, what has this situation taught you about yourself?
- Is there something you need or want to learn more about?
It’s okay if you don’t have answers to these questions right away. You may need some more time to reflect on them. Oftentimes it is silence and reflection that unveil the answers to our questions.
3. Address the Gossip If You Feel You Must
Depending on the nature of the gossip, you may feel compelled to say something. Especially if what is being said is damaging your reputation.
The caveat in my situation is the award I received was peer nominated, meaning my colleagues nominated me. I simply didn’t feel like I needed to explain myself because I knew what was being said wasn’t the real me.
If you do go this route, approach it with kindness and keep your ego in check.
Once your ego takes over, the entire tone of the interaction will change. Keep in mind that you can’t change anyone’s mind if they already have it made up.
If they have an impression of you that isn’t true, speak your truth if you feel you must, and then let it be.
I think we all know that dealing with gossip is never fun, nor is it ever easy.
Gossip can be hurtful and can create a toxic environment. And depending on who the gossip is coming from, it can be damaging to relationships too.
But the thing about gossip is that it typically says a lot about the person it is coming from.
If someone doesn’t have the gusto to go directly to the person whom the information is about, they’re simply a coward.
It may sound harsh – but it’s true.
That person may also feel insecure about themselves or something in their life and thus gossip about another to make themselves feel better.
My ultimate recommendation on coping with gossip is to tune out all the noise that doesn’t align with your purpose.
If you find yourself at the center of the gossip, stay focused on yourself and your goals. If you keep yourself busy with that, you are sure to forget about all the chitter chatter in no time.