It’s no secret that people like to share salacious stories. We love reality TV, tell-all biographies, or even a good gossip session. We like to air our dirty laundry and talk about other people’s mistakes, whether it’s through posting on social media, talking to a friend or family member, or even confiding in a stranger on a flight. But sometimes, we can go too far. Often these stories are shared from a self-serving or judgmental place that hurts other people and leaves the teller with feelings of regret.
We all fall victim to oversharing at times, disclosing an inappropriate amount of detail about our personal lives filtered through our own biased viewpoint. Luckily, there are some tools we can use to ensure that we think before we speak and keep our sharing in alignment with our spiritual purpose.
Here are 3 tips to use before speaking your truth:
1. Understand the difference between being authentic and being hurtful.
Many times, people say, “I’m going to speak my truth,” before saying something unnecessarily negative or nasty about someone else. It can be easy to mistake authenticity for an excuse to slander someone. True authenticity is about being brave enough to be yourself and genuine enough to live according to your values. It does not rely on getting the last word or even having people see your point of view.
Just because something may be true does not mean it needs to be said. There is a time to speak up and a time for quiet reflection. Not every truth needs to be shared. Be thoughtful in what you share, especially in relation to judging or hurting others.
2. Try to find empathy for those you would normally judge.
Most of the pain and problems in the world stem from people judging and speaking negatively of others. Imagine a world where people did not judge each other so harshly. Of course, there are times when we need to speak out about the harmful things that other people are doing, but often, when we speak negatively of someone, it is out of spite or hurt, and we usually come to regret it.
We see so little of other people’s lives, and it is unfair to judge them without having walked in their shoes. Push yourself to judge less. Start finding empathy for those you previously or currently judge. Before you speak out against someone, ask yourself: Am I sure that what I’m about to say is true? Is it a good thing to say? Do I really need to say it, and is it useful?
3. Consider what you’ve gained or learned from a difficult experience before speaking about it.
A key part of our spiritual work is to focus our energy inward on the changes and transformations we must make. It relies on us constantly looking inside for ways to improve ourselves. When we go through a challenge, it’s because we are meant to gain something from the experience, even if it’s difficult to see in the moment. Think about how much you have grown from the obstacles you’ve encountered throughout your life.
When we share a story from a place of pain and haven’t yet made sense of the pain, it often comes out as judgment. We can fall into victimhood, blaming other people or even bad luck for what has happened to us. Although someone may have done something wrong to us, it is our job to find the blessing hidden in the experience. Who have you become, or can become, because of what happened? Then, if and when you decide to tell the story, it won’t be shared from a place of judgment but rather for the purpose of sharing a bigger picture and the wisdom you have gained.
It’s easy to see venting or gossiping as relatively harmless, but they can hurt other people and have a negative effect on our own spiritual well-being. Be true to yourself but also mindful of other people’s feelings, try to empathize with where they are coming from, even if they hurt you, and look for the blessing in the challenge. The more focused you are on in these areas, the more powerful your words and stories will be when you do decide to share them.