Downgrade the Drama

A man holding a white somber-looking mask over his face.
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

Why would you want to downgrade the drama, especially when it is exciting? There's passion, movement, power struggles. At best, all that high emotion can make life interesting. The dark side, however, is that it can keep you (and those around you) mired in stress.

Are You Addicted to Drama?

If you grew up in an alcoholic home, you may realize that drama was like another family member whose presence was especially evident on holidays - all those highly celebratory events where alcohol freely flowed, tempers rose and fighting began.

You may also be addicted to drama if you feel very unsettled when there is no "excitement" at home or work. In this case, excitement is confused with a more negative word - agitation. There is no doubt that there is a considerable amount of high energy with drama. It's important to question whether you need to be plugged into this particular source of energy. Is the quality of that energy generating positive thoughts and feelings (joy, anticipation, hope) or are they negative in nature (fear, hatred, frustration)?

Language Matters

Your language in describing ordinary events can also add drama. I love words, but there's wisdom in knowing when more drama is called for and when it isn't. Do you weep when crying will do? Are you disheartened or disappointed? Inconsolable or sad? Sometimes without even being aware of it, the words you choose can deepen those negative thoughts and feelings. Consequently, they can hold you in their grip for longer than is necessary. By all means, use your words, however, remain aware of their effects on you and others.

The Pot Stirrers

The pot stirrers, otherwise known as the "s*** disturbers." For example, some people like to stir things up in order to create the drama that they're desperately seeking. They tease, poke, prod, often in a way to induce a strong reaction. That is when drama can hurt. Words fly, fists clench or worse.

There's another class of drama - gossip. Perhaps you know someone who likes to collect and disseminate information, while enhancing it with details to make it even more salacious. There's oftena fine line between gossip and information sharing.

Downgrade the Drama

Sometimes you get caught up in the drama of situations, before you are even aware that it is happening. Do you find the drama is evoking thoughts, feelings and behaviours that elicit the stress response? The good news is that with practice, you can catch yourself when you are immersed in a dramatic scene.

How to "Exit (Drama) Stage Right"

  1. Recognize how you're feeling when things are calm in your life. Contrast that with when things are tumultuous. What's happening in your body? Are you breathing differently? What are you clenching, tightening?
  2. Downgrade the drama by choosing your words carefully. You may sometimes find that your emotions play follow the leader. What will make you feel better? Worse?
  3. Imagine that you can float above yourself. What do you see? Is it turmoil? Bad feelings? Or is it like a scene from Bugs Bunny where the Tasmanian Devil wreaks havoc?
  4. Ask questions of yourself: What am I getting out of it? Why do I need drama in my life? Does it concern me? Is my involvement necessary? Will my input ameliorate the situation?
  5. If you crave drama, find other ways to express it. Take an improv class, acting class or write about it. Perhaps you could dress more dramatically. Get creative.
  6. For other strategies, check out 5 Ways to Avoid Drama and 7 Crucial Steps to Minimize Drama in Your Life.

Over the years, I've made a commitment to living with less drama. There are some events, whether in the family or the neighbourhood, that do not need my involvement. Learning to choose whether or not those events concern me and actually helps others is a script that I frequently revise.

Leave the drama where it belongs: on the stage, in the movies and on television.

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