Gossip & the Hot Potato

by Anna Beaumont

You are talking with a friend over coffee and having a great conversation when the tide suddenly changes and your friend starts gossiping about someone, really going for it. And. Everything. Changes.  It’s awkward to say the least. Should I collude? Just nod and go with it like I am right there with her? Go to the bathroom? Hmm, what to do?

” Gos*sip – casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, ! typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.

Your friend is trying to pass you the hot-potato. They are trying to shame someone and they want you to agree that this is a good idea and that person is oh-so-horrible.  We have a decision to make in that moment as to whether we will collude with them, or, not.  Everyone is a mirror for us and when our buttons get pushed and we don’t see what that person is mirroring for us it is so uncomfortable that we seem to have no choice but to make that person wrong rather than being accountable for what is being touched inside of us.

The hot-potato can be feelings of shame, embarrassment or rage that bounce off us unconsciously looking for a place to land to deflect it from ourselves. Gossiping is a great way to pass that hot-potato on.  But it’s stinky and you know it.

The throat chakra has a dial on it like all the chakras.  Chakra means disk or wheel and spins in a clock-wise direction in seven centers throughout the body from the crown to the ground. These wheels can spin too fast creating an excessive amount of energy in one area, or, too slow in one area.  When the throat chakra is excessive and has too much energy the person has to dump some, spill it, like having too much water in a cup and the cup just starts spilling over.  There are many ways to ‘dump’ or ‘spill’ energy, and, one of them is gossiping.  Other ways are by shopping, drinking, sex and of course, food.

You know what it feels like to be held hostage in a conversation.  When someone talks excessively and holds the space hostage.  There is no energy exchange, only a one sided conversation, it is a monologue of epic proportions that steals your life force.  Talking excessively is one level of spilling energy but when gossip enters the arena then things really go from bad to worse.  You are being passed the hot-potato and have entered the gossip playground where the kids play dirty.

If you have a deficient throat chakra you are silent, mute and can feel invisible.  You are usually the one being passed the hot-potato, because others know you are ‘so good at just taking it.’  ‘She’s such a good listener.‘  This is a perfect breeding ground to be the

recipient of the ‘hot-potato’.  I have swallowed shame myself ‘for the good of others’ and to keep the peace, but have come to understand the shaming of that on myself.  “It’s not mine” and “this doesn’t belong to me,” are now common healthy thoughts that appear on my screen now as I develop this discernment of the ‘hot-potato’ gossip passing game.

What can we do to stop the passing of the hot-potato?  As someone who has taken the potato in the past and now doesn’t, I can say that to put my hand up and to say ‘no thank you but I don’t like hot-potato’s anymore’ is at first a very scary thing to do and you might even get a little slap from your inner critic saying to you ‘ya know, you really shoulda taken that potato, caus’ you really want people to like you, you’re not gonna have any friends if you keep doing this,’ and so on.

What we are doing when we say no to the passing of the hot-potato is holding people accountable for their own passing of the shame.  They might have to feel that for themselves, not you, it’s theirs not yours and it’s just not our job.  My heart has developed a certain fierceness in this holding people accountable that feels cleaner than when my rational mind is trying to do it.   When I say it from a judgmental place it feels like I am now shaming them, but the heart knows how to do this.

The heart brings a compassionate understanding with it that says, ‘yes I know that this is how you are getting out of something that you have not yet felt through but I have complete confidence in you that you can do this for yourself.’  Without compassion we are just continuing the potato passing.  Leaving the gossip playground is vulnerable and can be quite messy at first, but when I put my hand up and say, ‘no thanks I don’t want your hot-potato‘ my self-respect grows leaps and bounds and an inner fire gets lit that throw out a light that simply by its very presence says, ‘no hot potato’s accepted here.’

Anna Beaumont teaches The Authentic Voice classes on Mondays at Healing Connections.