It seems like such a cultural norm for we woman to discuss others when we get together. (I don’t know what men talk about…) That in and of itself doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but how many times has coffee with a friend turned to a dish-about-others session? How many girls’ nights out become rag on our husbands?
For some years, I have been a part of a group of women that is small enough and “confidential” enough to share some of the raw struggles of marriage and parenting. The temptation to turn from sharing and supporting to hubby or in-law bashing is real. I recall a few times we made the woman who had just shared say three nice things about the other person in an effort to keep some positivity in the air.
Speaking ill of someone puts us in a false position of superiority, and what good does that do? Moreover, it strikes me as rather egotistical. Those we are in community with are just as human and flawed as ourselves. Friends will disappoint, coworkers will irritate, and romantic partners will flat-ass drop the ball. (Note, I’m talking about everyday blunders, not abuse.) We can still choose in our words to focus on the person’s strengths rather than their blemishes.
I wrote about this in The Beautiful Thing About Women, wherein I quoted Tony Robbins saying, “the beautiful thing about women is … you look out for each other and compliment … each other.” When I heard that I thought of all the catty conversations of which I’ve been a part, overheard, or been the target. I noted in that piece that when I was sick with an eating disorder or depression, I was unable to accept any encouragement. No female in my life could have looked out for me because I wasn’t looking for support. I was looking to pile on the shame and pain. I stated in that post: It took a flip in me, like flipping a magnet around, to make anything positive attract.
I propose that speaking well of others is one way to flip your relational magnet. Do what Ghandi advised and be the good. Women speak well of other women, lift them up, and watch off on the horizon for your tribe of uplifters to show up. They may not be your current tribe.
Marriage is hard and discord is unavoidable, but trash talking your spouse for entertainment on a Friday night has never helped. Friends, I’m preaching to myself here, as usual! Focus on your spouse’s positive and talk about them to him or her. Then, practice the patience of Day 7 while they get used to this flip and choose their response.
Further, re-read Day 10: Love yourself, Day 15: Believe in yourself, and Day 17: Put your needs first. You must be the first person in your corner. This fertilizes your social soil. Then, when you start speaking well of those around you and it comes back to you, it can stick.
You will find people who get it that it takes nothing from their self-worth to congratulate and praise others, but it starts with you.