Michelle: Sonja is the class muse, the kind who is comfortable with guys. She is just friends with the guys, no more, no less. She recently had a misunderstanding with her best friend Ryna who is a Christian. Now, Ryna is spreading rumors that she is sleeping around. Sonja says that because Ryna is the demure type, Ryna appears more credible than her and the class believes Ryna. Sonja is very hurt and ashamed. Being the subject of unfair criticism and gossip adversely affects anyone. Those who have been victimized by insulting or defamatory remarks can sometimes just ignore such hurtful and unfounded insinuations. However, when things get out of hand and one’s reputation is besmirched, there is a need to pursue legal action to defend one’s self. I’m not saying that Sonja immediately file a case against Ryna. Going to court should be the last resort. But Sonja should take steps to correct Ryna.
DJ: It’s sad that the perpetrator claims to be a Christian. False accusations hurt. What’s also regrettable is the people’s tendency to gravitate toward negative information. Check what often trends in social media these days. But we can’t stay victims of such ruinous situation. I learned the hard way that there is little we can do about it but there is a lot that we can do about our response.
M: We have different reactions toward things that happen to us. Some are easily slighted while others are so chill to the point that they might be mistaken to be unconcerned or indifferent. I think it will help Sonja if she starts by examining why her best friend spread lies about her. Might it be that Ryna is jealous because of the attention Sonja is getting from the guys? Ryna might be demure but her actions point to a heart that is not pure. And just because a woman is comfortable with guys doesn’t mean that she’s on to every guy. Sometimes the way we think about people isn’t the way they actually are.
DJ: I suggest for Sonja to directly take this up with Ryna. Regardless if this is going to work or not, it also helps that she takes a step back and distance herself from it all. If doing so isn’t possible because they’re classmates, she can unplug herself as much as she can by doing something away from them during breaks, for example, or by hanging out with her other friends. It’s hard to generate something positive when she’s upset. Research also highlights the importance of realizing that this is not about Sonja but about Ryna’s immaturity and insecurity. While Ryna is successful at sabotaging Sonja’s reputation in the short term, the long term is likely to be different if Sonja continues to act with kindness and compassion, letting her actions speak for her.
M: I also think that the best way for Sonja to deal with Ryna is to confront her directly. And it would be better if there is a trusted and ideally older person to witness their talk. A teacher or guidance counselor can help mediate or straighten things out. There is no point in pretending to be friends with someone who talks behind your back. Keeping quiet or staying angry will do no good but just create more resentment. If you know the truth and you will fight for it, it will set you free. Don’t let other people’s efforts to make you miserable succeed in making you feel powerless. Get your power back when you can calmly confront the people who are messing with you.
DJ: I know this sounds cliché but what Ryna did is just a smaller portion of what’s going right in Sonja’s life. For now, she can focus on the joys brought about by her family, real friends, her studies, hobbies or sports. Spending time feeling grateful for what else is going right in her life will help keep her head high.