Drama is subjective.
Take Veronica and Lilly for example. For Lilly, getting into a fender bender might not be a big deal. She has great insurance. She’s got a great driving record. Even if it was her fault, one blemish isn’t going to be the end of the world. She makes a comfortable living. So, she’s not concerned about having to pay a deductible on her car insurance to get the repairs made right away. She’s pretty calm about the whole thing. It’s no big deal.
Veronica? She’s over there crying and pacing like a caged tiger. She has liability only insurance because that’s what she could afford. She got a speeding ticket from a jerk cop last year when she was driving her dad to the hospital. So, even though she’s pretty sure this accident wasn’t her fault, she’s already got one strike – now maybe two! She’s barely making ends meet as-is. Her old car is barely even worth the deductible. She’s scared and maybe having a panic attack, all from what looks like a tiny fender bender to most.
Is Veronica reacting dramatically to the fender bender? I guess it depends on who you ask. If you asked someone driving by, yes, she’s being very dramatic. If you ask someone who knows the whole story, you probably can’t blame her for her reaction. You may even feel inclined to comfort poor Veronica.
Apply this example to the last dramatic scene you witnessed. Try to imagine, from every perspective what could make a person act the way they’re acting and ask yourself if you may act the same on your own worst days.
Drama is real.
Since calling drama out as subjective is kind of the same as defending people who act dramatically, I must make sure it is clear that I also believe there are people out there who are overly dramatic without apparent reason. We’ve all met them…
Dramatic people love attention. They like to stir the pot. They exaggerate things. An example of a dramatic person would be Lilly, from the fender bender example, if she were not calm as a cucumber. If she reacted the way Veronica did, given her circumstances, that would be dramatic. And these unwarranted dramas happen often enough that I’m writing this blog.
So, we know it is subjective and it’s real. How do we avoid drama in our lives?
We start internally.
Another way of saying that drama is subjective is saying that it depends on the person or that it’s case-by-case.
In the Veronica situation, and other situations in your life when you encounter someone who appears to be dramatic, before you jump to conclusions, stop and ask yourself if you have done these things first.
It starts with you…
• Be empathetic.
• Don’t make assumptions.
• Don’t judge others.
• Don’t gossip.
• Stay calm.
Of course, there will be situations where you are not a third-party witness. So, the other side of the internal drama coin is that you must ask yourself…
Am I being a dramatic person?
Some ways to avoid being a dramatic person are:
• Don’t take things personally.
• React more slowly (in some cases, no reaction at all is ok).
• Consider the feelings of others.
• Lower your voice.
• Don’t exaggerate unnecessarily.
• Fully consider potential actions/consequences before reacting.
Now the part that we’ve all been waiting for. What about externally reducing drama in our lives?
Great question. The easy answer is to just walk away. I recognize that is a lot easier said than done for most people though. Drama exists at home, with our family, at work, at school, with neighbors, and online. We’re all human and we all have relationships that we’re invested in, and we value. When something goes wrong with someone we love or care about, we want to be able to help. It’s human nature to want to lend a helping hand. That’s OK. When it becomes not OK is when our help lands us in the middle of someone else’s drama. We usually wind up there before we even realize it. Then we’re in too deep.
Let’s take a look at some steps we can take before we get sucked into someone else’s catastrophe.
These are a few musts for staying out of drama.
• Set boundaries.
• Listen more, talk less.
• Don’t bite.
• Keep your emotions in check.
• Love from a distance.
We’ll start with boundaries. Now, setting boundaries is a whole other blog for another day. For now, let’s just talk about the importance of setting healthy boundaries for ourselves. Boundaries are a set of personal limits separating what we accept from what we don’t accept. Setting AND enforcing these is crucial for healthy well-being.
Sometimes, we end up with one of those too-dramatic people in our lives who just drain us every time we talk to them. Setting boundaries for dealing with that person is a non-negotiable for surviving the day. You should never feel bad for your boundaries. Establish them early and enforce them consistently.
Listen More, Talk Less
Next, listen more and talk less. This one is important because the less you engage, the less the dramatic person can draw you in. They may want someone to engage with their drama. But they also may just need someone to listen to them. Listen, but don’t engage.
Along those same lines, don’t bite. Don’t bite on the tasty little drama morsels they have to offer. I get it. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of reality television shows because we all love some good drama. Sometimes there are juicy bits of gossip that we just can’t resist. But it’s kind of like feeding a stray dog, feed them once and they’ll keep coming back for more. Just.Don’t.Bite.
Keep Your Emotions in Check
Always, always keep your emotions in check. A trait of those with low drama in their lives is high emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence means, among other things, keeping our emotions under control.
Love from a Distance
The last piece may be the hardest for some. Some people are just high drama and do not have plans to change any time soon. These people can be our family or someone close to us that we love but talking to them feels like emotional gymnastics. They always have something new and devastating going on in their lives. They’ve just broken up with someone. They just lost a job. They may be dying. Their kid is always in trouble. The list goes on and on. Sometimes the worries are real. Sometimes they are massively exaggerated. Nevertheless, they’ve become the little boy who cried wolf and you dread answering the phone when their name pops up. They are just too much.
In these cases, it is OK to love them from a distance. It is OK to stop taking their calls. Stop answering their texts. Don’t comment on their twentieth relationship status update on Facebook this year. Just don’t worry about them anymore. You do not have to continue to give yourself or your energy to them anymore. You don’t have to cut them out of your life completely. You don’t have to cancel them. You don’t have to block them (but you can hide them). You simply can stop giving your energy and attention to them. Love them from a distance, a long enough distance that you are not involved with their drama any longer.
Whether you are a dramatic person or have dramatic people in your life…
taking steps both internally and externally to reduce drama in your life will make a positive impact that you will be glad you took. We live in a society where many of us are overworked and on the edge of burnout just from our basic daily routines. There are so many things that are more productive to spend our emotional energy on than unnecessary drama.
If you or someone you know needs some help with this area, please reach out. I know a lot of these things are easier said than done. We’re here to help.
Sending you light and love,
~ You are worthy. You are capable. You are enough! ~