Sunday, January 23, 2011


"In my family, everybody gossips, judges and condemns everybody else. How can I get out of doing this without being rude about it?"

I once was a rigid person, full of strict rules and regulations about how I, (and everyone around me) "should" live, work, play, grow, learn, behave. Al-Anon has taught me to be open-minded, to permit others to live their own lives as they see fit, with no commentary from my peanut seat.

I find this one of the most peaceful aspects of 12-Step, and when I hear someone (in or out of program) judging another person for their choices or behavior, this doesn't flow past me as "normal conversation" the way it once did - rather, I find it disturbing, and I feel uncomfortable.

When someone makes a decided judgement of another, and then says to me, "Right?" asking me to acquiesce in this judgement or condemnation, I have a choice: say something about my personal philosophy in this area, say something to sidestep the question, or say nothing. I used to think that I needed to state my philosophy every time something like this came up - I soon realised that this was another attempt to control. I was saying, in effect, "I am living differently now, and so should you."

My response will depend upon my own state of mind. I try to examine my motives, and if I feel comfortable, I can say something along the lines of: "I don't like to be judged, so I try not to judge others."

In some families, that kind of response will bring down much jeering and mockery: with my ex, I would hold one hand up, palm out, and say bluntly, "I don't want to hear it." and walk away. After a while, all I had to do was put my hand up, and he'd stop.

I can't change other people, but I can stop being an audience for cruelty and judgement of others; I can remove myself from the room, the house, the area. My ex learned very quickly that if he did certain things, he'd end up talking to himself; I'd have left the building.


  1. Yes, very nice, thank you.

    It's not my place to convert gossipers, slanderers, secret-spillers or drama mongers into stopping, but I don't need to be around to either suffer the agony of withstanding it or to, by my presence, appear as if I co-sign what they're doing, either.

    Yes, thank you.

  2. People talk about others because it fills a void and sometimes it is just a bad habit that is hard to break. Sometimes I am just trying reason things out and trying to understand why another person is acting the way they do. This doesn't work. I am not perfect now but I do catch myself and stop. Over the years when faced with others gossiping I sometimes just say I don't want to talk about this, which is true and non-judgemental. Other times I have had to let people go because I felt the constant venom was draining on my spirit.

  3. I got tickled at the last part about putting up your hand palm out...I only laugh, because I do the same thing. It does help. Even my sponsees recognize this behavior in me. A great tool I have learned as well to help keep my side of the street clean.

  4. I am glad to not live around gossipers. I don't like gossip or judging others. It is one of the greatest things about Al-Anon--I have learned so much compassion.