The best person we know is ourselves. No one will know us better than we know ourselves. And since we all love ourselves, we are often self-protective. We want to hide our true selves, even from ourselves. We want to convince ourselves that we are the best at everything. We are the most humane people we have ever known. We are the best-looking people we have ever known. We are the smartest, most hard-working, influential, kindest people we have ever known. And it is OK because if we do not think this way, we can lose our sanity. Of course, there are people who suffer from a chronic lack of self-esteem. These are people who only see the worst in themselves. For me, even in such a case, we try tirelessly to convince ourselves of the opposite, that we are people of value.
People like to gossip, and often we gossip about the bad behavior of others. I guess we do that because of the need to give ourselves a boost in self-esteem by undermining others. We talk down on people to give others an image of ourselves as one that would never do the things we are blaming the person being gossiped about. We say, “This person is so lazy, and so irresponsible, and so reckless, and so dishonest,” and the list goes on. Personally, whenever I find myself gossiping about another person, accusing them of being “bad people”, I often hear this subconscious voice in me that says “but you are also that kind of person. You have also done what you are accusing this person of having done.” I try to silence this voice, but often it does not go away. I wonder if others also have this voice coming to them whenever they gossip about another person in such a way that undermines the person being gossiped about.
As much as each of us would like to convince ourselves and others of the kind of good and accomplished person we are, the truth is that people may not always see us as the person we see ourselves as or would like to see ourselves as. In fact, I have realized that we do not know ourselves. Or at least, although we might think that we do know our true self, other people often do not see us the same way we see ourselves. Often, I hear people complaining about other people doing things that they themselves are known for doing.
Have you ever heard someone gossip about how disrespectful someone is, even though you know this person is the most disrespectful person you know? Have you ever encountered a person who complains a lot about a coworker being a very poor team player, although you know that this gossiper himself has very weak team skills? It makes me wonder, don’t people know themselves? Have you ever encountered a person gossiping to you about how undemocratic and dictating a person you know is, although you know that this gossiper is as autocratic and undemocratic as one can be? It makes you wonder if the gossiper really does know himself well or if he is trying to convince himself of the kind of good person he is by undermining the person he is gossiping about.
What I have learned, though, is that when we are gossiping and talking bad about other people, we should not assume that the people we are gossiping about know or think that we are better than the person we are gossiping about. I have learned that we should not assume that people know us as well as we know ourselves. We might know or at least believe that we are accomplished and good people, but people may see us completely differently than that. Coming to this realization might save us from gossiping and talking bad about other people.