Gossip isn’t just a bad habit – it’s a form of self harm

Everyone likes to have the occasional rant. Everyone likes to point the finger, to have a good gossip. To put the blame on someone else.

But what about being on the receiving end of all this?

No one likes to be the object of other people’s rage and scorn. No one likes to be the subject of gossip or to be the one everyone blames.

The curious thing I want to say today is that every time we are judgemental or think uncharitable thoughts about others then we are doing exactly the same thing to ourselves.

Gossip, criticism, judgementalism and blaming are all forms of self harm.

The truth is that we are more connected with the rest of humanity than we might like to admit. And every time we hurt someone else, we also hurt ourselves.

Our differences, as huge as we make them out to be, are superficial and meaningless. Yes, that politician you hate, your irritating mother in law, your selfish colleague – they are all part of you!

In the Bible, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. And He says this not just because it is not very nice to hate people and to wish them ill. But because hating people and wishing them ill is so harmful to ourselves too.

A protestor was recently standing outside the Military School of America, holding a candle in protest at what he considered to be the bullying behaviour and policies of the US. Someone asked him what difference he thought his little candle would make. How could this change anything. The protestor replied that his hope and prayer was not that the government would be changed but that he would not be changed.

Negative behaviour affects not just others but ourselves too. And the converse is also true.

A friend of mine had a terrible relationship with her father. One day, she decided to spend a few minutes every night hoping for good things for him. She envisaged him getting all the things he wanted in life and being happy. Of course, her father knew nothing about all this. After about six months, my friend noticed that her relationship with her father had changed and amazingly they had become the best of friends. She said that all the things she had hated about him and found irritating had disappeared. And she felt so much happier.

So, in 2018 why not try to be a little kinder to one another? And in the process be a little kinder to yourself?

When we meet another person, especially someone we have a difficult relationship with, consider it a holy encounter. See the person as you see yourself. Treat the person as you would want to be treated yourself. Think of the person as you would want to be thought of yourself.

The truth is - that person is more part of you than you realise.

You may have resolved this year to take better care of yourself – eating better, drinking less, getting more sleep – but self care is also the same as caring for others. When we care for others, we do care for them - but we also care for ourselves.

So love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. And, in doing this, you will be bringing love and healing to yourself too.

Posted by Martine Oborne