“Difficulty in inevitable. Drama is a choice.” – Anita Renfroe
As humans, we’ve always had a natural penchant for drama.
The ancient Greeks, for instance, had a flourishing theatrical culture. They built massive amphitheaters where spectators could enjoy performances ranging from tragedy to comedy. The Greeks were passionate about using drama as a medium to investigate the emotional themes of human life. They realized the significance of using the dramatic arts as a way to understand the subtleties of life that often can’t be expressed in words.
Our thirst for drama hasn’t changed much since the Greeks. We quench it with juicy novels, riveting movies, TV shows, and the latest celebrity or political scandal. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally indulging in a little drama. It offers us a form of escapism, allowing us to live vicariously through the experience, complexities, and oddities of others. As legendary movie director Alfred Hitchcock once said, “drama is life with the dull bits cut off”.
Drama stops being fun when your life starts resembling one – when you feel like you’re trapped in a soap opera, with an erratic plot, mired with complications and emotional highs and lows. While it may make a good story, it has the potential to wreak havoc with your mental wellbeing. Like a steady flame that was supposed to ignite our passions, it can overwhelm us and threaten to set our lives ablaze.
Common symptoms of drama-prone behavior include constant overreaction, and exaggerating the significance of benign events. Drama kings and queens like to pot stir, dragging others into their storms of chaos. These individuals always seem like they’re having one problem after another which they often manage with irrational and unpredictable behavior.
Drama-prone people show up in the world this way because they’re bored with the status quo and want to seek attention from others. Creating drama serves their ego’s need for adulation. Like any other dysfunction, drama-prone behavior is a covert cry for help, and a sign of low self-esteem, self-awareness, and a lack of confidence.
Whether you demonstrate some of these characteristics in your own conduct or you’re around people who do, it’s important to be aware of the negative impact it has on your life. Too much unnecessary drama induces anxiety and stress, thereby making us vulnerable to symptoms that go along with those conditions, such as headaches, high blood pressure, loss of focus, etc.
Moreover, anxiety disconnects us from our intuition and our wiser selves. We lose sight of our goals and dreams because we’re so distracted by all the upheaval in our surroundings. It’s almost impossible to thrive (and stay healthy in the process) if our foundation is shaky and we’re not in a calm and orderly environment.
I know this for a fact because I grew up with certain family members who revel in drama and conflict. Over the years I’ve had to learn how to shield myself from it and avoid getting dragged down by the madness. I didn’t want my peace of mind to be compromised by repeating toxic generational patterns. I knew that if I didn’t learn how my growth would be stunted.
Life is tough enough, and the last thing we need are neurotic and disagreeable people who slow us down with their erratic ways. If you sense that you’re in a situation like this, do your best to break away from it. By simply stepping away from a vortex of mayhem, you’ll be surprised how everything gradually falls into place. You’ll be in a better place to attract healthier conditions.
Use these four simple steps to drama-proof your behavior and your circumstances:
1. Examine your own interpretations and intentions: If you find yourself getting embroiled in drama, the first step is detecting the impulses that attract this energy. Remember that you’re the constant – you play a pivotal role in creating your reality. Perhaps you grew up in a home filled with drama, and it’s what you’re used to. It will, therefore, feel natural for you to be around it. You could be tolerating it because of you’re afraid of standing up for yourself and losing other people’s approval. Whatever it is that’s lurking beneath the surface, be willing to delve deep and understand it. You can explore your feelings further in a journal or by consulting experts such as healers and mental health professionals.
2. Maintain calm with objectivity and mindfulness: Being stuck in the midst of drama can feel like riding a speeding car. To stop it, we need to hit the brakes by taking a few conscious deep breaths, interrupting the thought patterns that are fueling the crazy narratives. Drama is nothing but a product of our own thinking, based on how we interpret the world around us. While we can’t change the facts, we can control our thoughts and the emotions generated based on those thoughts. Instead of raising your voice, throwing tantrums, and getting all worked up, catch yourself the moment you are triggered and take steps to cool down and respond only after you’ve viewed the situation from an objective and balanced perspective.
3. Avoid drama-prone individuals and situations: While it’s important to find your own go-to self-management techniques, you can insulate yourself further by avoiding people and situations that trigger you. Sometimes it’s harder to do if the person is around you a lot, like a co-worker or family member. But even so, try to minimize the time that you are in contact with them. If you ever sense you’re getting sucked in and drained out in their presence, give yourself a small window of time to deal with them, then walk away as soon as can. It may help to take an inventory of the people in your life and examine who gets you stressed out and who enhances your energy. Those friends who like to complain, gossip, and have pity parties? Replace them with inspiring people who are ambitious, proactive, and positive. Be the guardian of your space and protect it from unnecessary drama.
4. Focus your energy on your passions: Once you disconnect from unnecessary drama, you’ll find that you free up a whole lot of energy that you can use in constructive and noble pursuits. Redirect your focus to the activities and causes that you love, and that will fuel your passion. Your need for excitement and meaning can be met through these channels. Instead of tagging along with friends or co-workers for a gossip-fest, choose to join a club, take a class, or begin working on a passion project. You’ll find that you can live an interesting life without drama when you engage yourself in the right things.
Like graceful and debonair stars of the silver screen such as Grace Kelly or Humphrey Bogart, you can walk through life suave and composed. Even if drama ensues around you, you can handle it with tact, calm, and equanimity. When your center is strong, you can be the star of your life, even in the most unpredictable, stirring, and dramatic stories.
All my best on your journey,
Question: Do you have to face unnecessary drama in your life? What steps are you willing to take to move away from it?