Friday, April 30, 2010

Let There Be No Gossip Or Criticism...

One of the many reasons I wanted to move back to the city, was the variety of social life that is offered in such abundance here - one can find a group of like-minded people interested in gardening, books, hiking, cooking, or a specific breed of dog.

I joined one such group, and am enjoying myself enormously. The only jarring note, is the odd mild little criticism of one another tossed off, labelled as a joke. It grates on the ear, when one is used to Al-Anon groups.  So far, when someone does this, I've been responding with a comment along the lines of: "I really like so-and-so, I find him/her delightful/interesting/funny/great company." Or, if I'm feeling really brave, "I don't like to criticise other people, because I've got so many faults of my own, that I stay busy just trying to keep them in check."

Truth is, that second comment rather burst out of me, when I was cornered by someone determined to fill me, the newcomer, in on how she saw each and every member of the group - I had tried fending her off with changes of subject, but she was a juggernaut, and rolled right over my rather feeble attempts, until I desperately
came out with that one, and she stopped talking, looked me in the eye for the first time, and abruptly did a complete about-face, and began to tell me everyone's good characteristics. I relaxed, sipped my decaff and thanked my Higher Power. This woman hasn't offered me any criticisms since that time, for which I'm truly grateful. I guess I made it clear that I didn't want to hear it.

I've been thinking about this lately, and how that one reminder, "...but let there be no gossip or criticsm of one another..." helps to make our meetings, and our groups, a safe place for all of us.

My grandfather had a saying: "If they'll do it with you, they'll do it to you."

I've found that to be a pretty accurate way to look at these sorts of things, and it makes clear for me, who is safe, and who is unsafe. If a person will criticise and condemn other people to me, then they will criticise and condemn me to other people. I keep my distance from those people, choosing instead to make friends from the wide group of those who look to the good, and focus upon the positive.

We had two of those members of the group over to our house for dinner last night, and it was a wonderful evening of discussion and laughter, with not a single criticism passed all night. My kind of fun.

1 comment:

  1. I too am wary of those who talk about others. I don't want to be part of that.