“Loose Lips Sink Ships” - War Ad Council
This expression was created during World War II to warn servicemen and citizens to avoid careless talk that might undermine the war effort. In other words, watch what you say because you never know who is listening and what damage your words could potentially cause.
Have you ever heard a rumor about yourself? Most of us have. The rest of you...well, that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. It just means, YOU haven’t heard them yet. Over the past week, I’ve heard several rumors about myself and a loved one, that generated mixed emotions. One, was actually quite comical. The other, nearly crushed my soul. Now as a grown ass woman, I can say I’ve only actually heard rumors about myself on three occasions. Oddly enough, all three occasions were during my adulthood. I used to think rumors (especially the ridiculous ass ones I've been wrapped up in over the past few weeks) only happened on reality TV (my favs are LAHHATL, RHOA and RHOP) or in high school. I guess it doesn’t.
Why do people start or spread rumors? I believe it’s one of the two Is; Insecurity or ignorance. Either they are not secure enough to stand in their truth, so they projectile-word- vomit nonsense into a crowd (thank me later for the visual). On the other hand, they knowingly or unknowingly continue to spread words they’ve heard, assumed, or completely fabricated out of sheer ignorance or lack of consideration of how it would affect anyone involved or anyone else indirectly involved.
How do you counter rumors about yourself, the ones you love, or anyone else for that matter?
If you don’t know it to be true…don’t repeat it. This is the complete definition of gossip. You don’t know it to be true, yet you spread it around. Maybe not intentionally, but you tell someone, who then tells someone, who may also tell someone else. Eventually it’s wildfire. Never assume because you asked someone to keep it secret or protect your identity, that they will do just that. Here’s a little rumor-related advice from me to you:
Put the shoe on the other foot...then put a rock in that shoe. The rumor is the rock. If you wouldn’t want it said or shared about you, then don’t do it.
“Own your truth, and no one can use it against you.” says Charlamane tha God. Certainly if my husband and I were ever involved in some triangular love affair, I would own it because that makes us as interesting and spontaneous as some people seem to think we are. Furthermore, had my high school sweetheart given me the STDs and punches I was privy to find out about through the rumor mill over a decade after our relationship ended, I would certainly be out here directly advocating for domestic violence and safe sex rather than sexual abuse.
Don’t lose touch with reality. That’s hard when you have intense emotions. Situations that elicit an intense emotional reaction are meant to teach you, not break you. A sure-fire way to miss the opportunity for growth, clarity or peace is to fly off the handle. Pay attention to what’s real and what’s an illusion.
What do you do if someone brings you a rumor? My suggestion is, ignore it and politely decline to further discuss it. If you’re wondering whether or not you should tell the person it involves, my advice to you would be to consider your relationship with them, your relationship with the person giving you the tea, if the information is worth repeating, and their readiness to receive the information. In the three instances that I’ve heard rumors involving me, I’ve reacted three different ways:
I was hurt because the source of the rumor gossiped with a group of people we knew in common, it came back to me through a close friend. I didn’t address it further...although I was BOILING about it for a while. Especially since the tea-spiller abruptly stopped speaking to me. Lesson Learned here: Some things aren’t worth the energy, and those who don’t serve you well will usually weed themselves out. Snakes disappear when you cut the grass.
I literally laughed at this one. Another dear friend sat this ridiculous tidbit in my lap. She and I laughed at this juicy gossip. I was actually kinda jealous because it sounded like something exciting to be a part of. I was glad that my friend brought the information to me, but because of my relationship with both parties, I chose not to address this rumor. I figured it would ruin trust and relationships amongst other things. I could’ve flown off the handle, reacted emotionally, and addressed the rumor at the source. Lesson Learned here: Consider your relationships on both sides before you react to or address it. Find a clever and/or sensitive way to address it if you must, without getting your innocent bystander shot in the crossfire. Their loyalty to you was important enough, that they brought you the information. Don’t get the messenger shot.
This multifaceted shitstorm came at an emotionally vulnerable time for me and was also a test of my character, trust, and circle. I sank a few ships and, apparently unknown enemies attempted to sink my battleship. My dual loyalty landed me between a rock and a hard place. I ended up divulging what I knew and, in turn, ended up getting sucked into a vortex of lies, deceit, and deflection. My battleship hit rocky water, but remained strong throughout the storm. Lessons Learned: I knew the person with whom I shared the information was not emotionally ready to receive it. Unfortunately, I should’ve kept it to my damn self. Second, you’d be surprised how quickly you can get thrown under a bus, train, or semi when others refuse to be honest. Third, you cannot (saying it louder for those in the back) CANNOT reasonably expect anyone to approach any situation or act as you would in the same situation. Last, keep your hands and the air around you clean. When you are the tea-spiller, make sure you’re an Honest Tea-spiller. If you said it, own up to it. AND don’t let loyalty or the longevity of a relationship blind you to their intentions. Sometimes, unhappy or jealous people throw dirt on you to dull your shine.
Ultimately, protect your space and your presence. If the people around you turn out to be snakes, cut the grass and be okay with it or learn to keep them at a very watchful distance. Share water and positive words with them only. Period. Don’t stress over things you cannot control or run around trying to put out small fires. You can only prevent them by protecting your space and your presence with positivity through your words and actions. Can you stop people from spreading rumors? Nope. In fact, it seems like the more growth and happiness you have, the more you come across those trying to tear you down. Ultimately, you can only choose how you address them or react to them.