RumorsAboutMe gets quite a few hits from people searching for advice on how to handle being the subject of rumors.
Creating the site was my way of coping when I learned there were untrue rumors about me circulating. It hurt. Even being an adult woman with a great deal of good fortune in my life, it hurt to know anyone was spreading gossip about me. I barely knew most of these people and it was unlikely that the rumors would any ill effects on my career or my social life. It couldn't even have been more than a handful of people saying these things. Nevertheless, it still bothered me.
My response was create this blog as an outlet for my feelings. I made a joke out of it and started writing when I was upset because there seemed to be little sense in defending myself. I wrote about the rumors, I wrote a poem, I wrote about other things that happened in my life. I even let friends write a few things. Sometimes I wrote fiction, other times recipes. But then I saw hits from people searching for advice about what to do, why it happens and how to make it stop and I thought: maybe I can help a little. Even just by letting those people that are searching know that it happened to me, too.
The searches come from all over the world, including societies where rumors about a person can result in serious life-altering consequences; loss of friends, loss of reputation, loss of self-esteem, loss of income and even worse. That obviously wasn't my situation at the time, so I can only imagine the various scenarios each of you may be experiencing. Each situation is different, certainly but there is some general advice that may help. Here's a bit to start:
Do not speak ill of others, ever. A person that doesn't participate in gossip isn't instantly protected from being the subject of it, but only good things can come from being known as a person that has not a bad word to say about anyone else.
Your response does make a difference so keep your head high and your shoulders back. Look people in the eye. Know that those with true character are reticent to believe ill of others if they haven't seen it with their own eyes. It's normal to feel shame or embarrassment when one is the subject of gossip, but your internal dialog should be saying "Wait a minute here! I'm a decent person. No one deserves to be spoken about this way."
Keep it in perspective. Not everyone is talking about you. It's usually a handful of people rather than every person you meet. People that will talk about you have no compunction in talking about others as well, so do not allow yourself to feel persecuted. You are not the first nor the last subject of this type of talk, and as someone pointed out to me, "That's just what they do. Everyone gets a turn and they will eventually move on."
If it isn't personally damaging to your health, family or finances, try to keep a sense of humor about it. When confronted directly with some of the gossip, one can often turn it around to let the person sharing it know they are silly for believing such things.
Find a trusted confidant to talk with about your feelings. It certainly helped me to sit with a friend and say "Can you believe they are saying this about me?" He laughed with me, and shared my disgust and I felt like at least one person knew the truth. Having an ally was a huge help.
And finally, tried and true advice from Mom for when you are having a hard time with anything in life, "Stop contemplating your own navel and go help someone else. Take the focus off of yourself and you will feel better."