I've got a friend who constantly bad mouths everyone. At times it can be fun even though I know it's wrong, but lately she's gotten meaner. She's incessantly negative and it's bringing me down. I'd like to talk about other things besides people when we are together. When I leave her, I feel so badly about myself for gossiping. It also makes me wonder what she's saying about me behind my back. She wasn't always like this - she used to be light hearted. If she doesn't stop, I'm not sure I can stand staying friends with her. How can I approach her about this? Guilt Ridden Rhonda
Dear Guilt Ridden Rhonda
Oftentimes what we dislike about other people is what we don't like about ourselves. She sounds insecure and immature. Gossiping is a hard habit to break, but you've got to nip it in the bud. Just because you have a mean spirited friend doesn't mean you have to join her sinning behavior. Next time she starts talkin' smack about someone else say, "Can we please not talk about her - next subject - how's everything going with your new painting gig?" If she confronts you tell her that she sounds lame talking about other people all the time and that you'd rather catch up and talk about what's going on in your own lives.