Yesterday I overheard two teenagers having a bitch about someone they knew, and it occurred to me how damaging this kind of behaviour is. It’s not necessarily damaging for the person who is being bitched about because they will probably never know, and let’s face it, what we don’t know can’t bother us. It is the damage it does to the people who are doing the bitching that is a concern for me.
Bitching for connection
As I sat behind the two girls on the bus that was taking us to the city, I couldn’t help but tune into the gossip that fell so easily from their lips. I felt I was eavesdropping which I guess I was, but I was also researching my next blog. I had already decided it would be about Trust and this conversation tied in with some of the aspects of Trust I have been mulling over. Besides, the girls didn’t seem to care who could hear them and were oblivious to me taking notes. I observed their body language as they exchanged opinions on their victim, and I was appalled at the foul language that spilled from their mouths. The more one of them criticised, the more was spewed out by the other, as though they were feeding off each other.
In the end, I came to the conclusion that this exchange was more about these two girls connecting than it was about the victim. On reflection, I realise it is human nature to bitch and I’ve engaged in my fair share of it, but that doesn’t make it right.
Believing we’re not
Closeness is something we all crave. We want to fit in and feel valid. Sadly, we look outwards for that validation because we haven’t learnt to look inwards to nourish our own selves first. We pick up on other people’s lack of belief in themselves and get caught up in it like a tsunami that carries everything with it. If we are more grounded in ourselves, we are stronger and less influenced by other people.
I could feel the energy emanating from the two girls and it wasn’t positive. Once their rant had finished, I noticed an uneasiness between them as though they had overstepped a mark. They both took out their phones and lost themselves in their social media feeds.
It was as though their relationship had taken a hit because they had allowed their bitchy thoughts to be converted into words that were now out there and couldn’t be retrieved. They knew what each other was capable of in terms of bitchiness and this threatened their friendship whether they were aware of that or not. A relationship that is built on hating others is a relationship that will never fulfil us. It can’t, because a fulfilling and lasting relationship must surely be built on something more meaningful than a common desire to bitch. If you hear me bitching about someone, you are bound to wonder if I might bitch about you too. And vice versa.
Back at you
And this led me back to the topic of Trust. So, what is it? For me to understand it, I need to break it down into parts as it is such a major thing. First, it is an emotional act because we are vulnerable when we trust. We hope with all our heart that the person we trust will not take advantage of that vulnerability.
Then it’s about reliability and loyalty, two things that are fundamental to sustaining any relationship. If I cannot rely on a person, then I cannot fully trust them. Another important part of trust is being able to assume the best in a person, even if they have let us down. Trust enables us to have a deeper connection to people and allows that connection to withstand the roughest of seas. So, if I trust someone deeply, I will be able to overlook certain misgivings because I assume the best and will give them the benefit of the doubt. Knowing that a person has my back allows me to feel comfortable and not have to worry about what their motives are.
There is one key ingredient that will allow us to fully trust someone and that is self-belief. We need to realise the true value that we each have, and we need to treasure it. Of course, it’s great when other people believe in us but it’s futile if we don’t believe in ourselves, first and foremost. It’s amazing how many of us get through life without self-belief and spend our lives craving the validation of others. When it comes, it’s great. But when it doesn’t, our lives are miserable. It’s a sad state of affairs for me to admit that I only very recently started to believe in myself. I’m pretty sure that giving up alcohol allowed me to get in touch with my true feelings and has underpinned this sense of self-actualisation. I can’t say it enough, when I drank alcohol, I numbed the pain and I numbed the joy. Now that I have been completely sober for over eight months, I am experiencing the gamut of feelings. I feel more alive and I am able to appreciate all that I have. When bad feelings come, which is an inevitable part of living, I am dealing with them in a more constructive way. When shit happens, as it invariably does, I face it rather than pretend it’s not there.
No more numbing
Being able to give up something as addictive and culturally pervasive as alcohol has allowed my belief in myself to grow from a dry seed gasping for water to a young plant that is slowing sprouting leaves and will one day blossom. It’s a journey and things don’t change overnight but I am already hugely encouraged by my transformation so far. And without wanting to sound like a broken record, I do need to remind you about self-compassion and how it bolsters us in all sorts of ways. It allows us to be more forgiving of ourselves and others. In fact, for anyone dealing with an addiction of any kind, forgiveness is key to recovery.
When we believe in ourselves, we become powerful. We gain a confidence that enables us to trust our inner self. We can allow ourselves to be guided by intuition because we are in touch with it. We will not be swayed by external forces because our truth is clear to us. So, when that friend starts to bitch, we have the strength and the sensitivity to steer the conversation in a direction that will result in both parties feeling more secure in the friendship. We can work on growing that friendship into something meaningful and lasting and while we’re at it, feel damn good about ourselves. I truly believe that if we’re not kind to others, we cannot be kind to ourselves. And I will leave you this week with food for thought from the wonderful poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou who said:
I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.
Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read this week’s offering.