Personal Growth: Dancing with Drama

I admit it. Over the last couple months, I’ve noticed the “drama quotient” in my life at an all-time recent  high.  This is VERY peculiar because my life, for the most part, is pretty drama-free.  But, everything life dishes out is a gift.  The extra drama has had me become more curious about how we create it, attract it and dance with it.  Eventually finding our way back to inner peace, and radically less drama.

So we’re all on the same page, let’s get clear about what drama is.  The best dictionary definition for the kind of drama I’m speaking of is: “a situation or sequence of events that is highly emotional, tragic, or turbulent.”

You know what I’m talking about, right?

Misunderstandings in relationships.  Divorce. Polarizing arguments over political issues.  Domestic violence. Negotiating agreements. Uncertainty. Miscommunications. BIG life-altering decisions. Firing. Hiring. Lay-offs. Family conflicts. Physical injury and disease. Financial pressure. Betrayal.  Fear. Outrage.

One of our most recent dramas involved a domestic violence case with our neighbors, who live above us.  John and I testified in court a couple weeks ago, to help “her” get a restraining order.  It was NOT granted.  Most of the legit evidence was thrown out for technical reasons. Truly crazy. Her testimony explained what we’d heard during the last 4 months, including loud thuds, crying and yelling. After the hearing, she moved out.  But, then HE moved back in!  Yikes! The lawyer said THAT wouldn’t happen.  Now, is our safety in jeopardy? This is just ONE of the dramas present in our lives.

Countless forms of drama-provoking situations exist. And, as Law of Attraction goes, the more you step into the energy of “drama,” the more “drama” you attract and the more intense the emotions. Whew!!

It’s not news that our culture loves drama, spending hours watching adrenaline soaring movies and TV, reading emotionally riveting novels, and engaging in conversations that intensify emotions of all kinds. Many people attract “real-life” drama in their everyday lives mirroring what’s on TV!  Yikes again!

Why are we so attracted to drama?

1.  Distraction.  First off, drama is a fabulous distraction that takes us outside of ourselves.   If I can focus on my friend’s divorce, the neighbor’s domestice violence case, or the latest episode of CSI: Miami or Bachelor Pad, the focus is OUTSIDE of me and effectively numbs any of my own turbulent emotions by externalizing them.  Sometimes it’s just good entertainment.  But, more often, focusing on drama occupies our attention, so we don’t have to go within and confront our own dysfunctional thoughts, behaviors and attitudes.

2. Drama Forces Us To Feel.  There is something cathartic about feeling emotions, even if we’re displacing the true source.  When my 15 1/2 year old Golden Retriever Rugby died, I was a wreck for a week, then stuffed my emotions so I could focus on my business and effectively serve clients.  A couple months later, they were still bottled up. So I rented “Marley and Me,” to allow myself to reconnect to those feelings of grief.  Sure enough… it worked! By focusing on the drama of the movie, I re-connected to my own feelings. Sobbing helped me heal.

3.  Divine Guidance. Because emotions capture our attention during intense situations, drama CAN become the most fertile ground for learning life’s biggest lessons.  Can you point to one of your most “drama-filled” periods and see how it was pivotal to your growth?  While we’re not necessarily consciously choosing drama, sometimes I believe our soul’s attract it, so we can learn key lessons.  Think of it as a necessary “spiritual nudge.”

The Cost of Drama

Like stress, most people accept drama as a part of everyday life, and barely notice what the devastating costs are.  How does drama impact your life? 

Is it impairing your ability to focus or be productive?  Is it interfering with your ability to connect with a loved one?  Is it affecting your food choices or alcohol intake?

One thing for sure, adrenaline rises with drama.  This directly affects cortisol in your system, which is the hormone that correllates with stress.

Personally, I HATE that feeling over long periods of time.  (Though it’s fun to experience while watching movies!)

How to Dance with Drama.

If you’re noticing the drama quotient is extra high in your life, here are a few things you can do to reduce it’s impact and maximize its benefits.

1. What’s REALLY going on?  You may need to reflect on this inquiry a bit to determine the truest answer to this question.  Look for the most objective perspective, which is often the most simple.  Are you wanting to avoid your own feelings?  Do you find it difficult to “be with” another’s discord?  Are you feeling helpless in resolving a situation?

2. What thoughts are you attaching to?  This question helps clarify what’s really going on because typically our thoughts dictate our feelings, and point to “what’s really going on.”

Example: Resistance to friend’s divorce.
Belief: Love doesn’t last.  Maybe MY relationship won’t last. They were a perfect couple. I’m suppose to prevent this.

Example: Neighbor not granted restraining order. Belief: He’s going to harm me or a loved one because I testified against him in court. The justice system is not fair. We have to move ASAP.  I’m not safe.

Example: Polarized Reactions to Manifesto for Conscious Women.  Belief: People won’t like or trust me any more.  I’m a horrible communicater.  People are in pain (and I can’t do anything about it.) Nothing I say makes a difference.

Example: Discord in Relationship.
Belief:  Our relationship will never be the same again.  I should be able to help.  They don’t understand their impact.  The relationship should be closer. They don’t understand me.

When we attach to certain thoughts, we create suffering for ourselves.  And, many of these drama-expanding thoughts aren’t necessarily grounded in reality.  I know how much I want to help in sticky situations.  And, it’s not always my place to do so.  Believing it’s “my job” can be very debilitating.

I’m NOT saying we should minimize certain thoughts like “I’m not safe.”  I can’t know for sure what my neighbor will do or not.  But, knowing this is the thought I’m believing, I can take smart actions without dwelling on the thought 24/7.

3.  Consciously choose thoughts to create more alignment with reality.  Refocusing our thoughts goes a long way in reducing the resistance inherant in drama.

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about alternative possibilities.

* Maybe things are perfect the way they are (and I just can’t see it yet).
* Maybe this is the catalyst for something higher to evolve.
* Maybe emotional turbulence is serving me or others right now.
* Maybe it’s not my job to fix the situation.
* This situation doesn’t have anything to do with me.
* My only job is to hold the highest outcome for all.
* Everyone is whole, resourceful and creative.
* I am safe right now.

4.  Practice Calming the Mind. Give yourself a moment away from the chaos, and relax into your beingness.  Meditate.  Breathe.  Do yoga.  Go for a walk. Lie in the grass. Allow yourself to find peace, even though there are emotional turbulent situations in your world.  Focus on your well-being in the moment, independent of thoughts, feelings and external circumstances.  A calm mind helps put things in perspective.  Without our attention on “the situation” (like when we sleep)…we can relax into the truth of “all is well.”  At least for THIS moment.

5.  Set Boundaries.  And, take care of YOU!  Just because you have 5 friends in emotionally challenging situations, doesn’t mean you need to be at their beck and call 24/7.  One of the best drama-busters is boundaries.

As you hold your friends as capable, you empower them to sort through their situation without it wreaking havoc on your own nervous system.

Not saying you shouldn’t be there for friends. But, I am saying it’s essential for you to take care of you first.  Remember what they say on airplanes?  Put the oxygen mask on yourself first.  If you’re trying to support your friend from a depleted place, you’ll be of less help and you may end up resenting your friend later.

And again, even if you have LOTS of energy to jump into the drama-pool with others, doesn’t mean it’s your job.  Maybe the drama is in your life to help YOU get better at setting boundaries.

6.  What’s the lesson for you?  Drama is a fabulous distraction.  It’s easy to blame external situations for the emotional turmoil, AND there is almost always a lesson in it for you.

Go within.

Is your friend’s divorce a wake-up call for your relationship?  Do you need to master setting boundaries and “just say no” to drama?  Is there a feeling or emotion you’re avoiding because you’re going through a big transition?  Is there an opportunity to “be with” turmoil in a new way without manipulating circumstances?

And here’s one of the juiciest places to explore.  Is there a shadow quality you haven’t owned yet?

Example: My friend seems overly controlling.  Can I find all the overt and covert ways I’m controlling?

Example: I’m not getting what I want from a relationship.  How am I unconsciously resisting what they ARE giving me?  How am I NOT giving what they need in relationship?

Note: For more information about “shadow work” I recommend Debbie Ford’s book “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” and my book “The Power of Inner Choice” (Lesson #11).

7.  Watch Your Language.  Language intensifies emotions.  And remember, like attracts like.  It can be cathartic to talk about volatile situations in our lives, AND it can also put fuel on the flames!!

When I talk about testifying in court, and all the stomach-churling details about our neighbor’s domestic violence case, I notice my heart starts beating faster, and the flood of fear and frustration pours in.  (I also notice it’s exciting to talk about, since domestic violence cases aren’t typically happening in the apartment above us!)

But, as I allow more and more time to pass between conversations, my inner peace quotient equalizes and I feel better.

8. Intention.  The best drama-deflater for me has always been intention.  After you’ve seriously taken inventory of what’s going on and combed the field for priceless lessons, it may be time to set a clear intention of a drama-free life.  If you’re like me, who thrives on inner peace and stillness, this can happen quickly.

However, if you’ve been addicted to drama for awhile, this may take time and support. MOST people with high drama-quotients have it for a reason.  They aren’t wanting to face something within themselves or in a relationship.  If you suspect this may be you, reach out to an experienced coach or therapist for expert support. It’s often easier to “go within” and “confront challenging situations” when you have someone to hold your hand.

Final Note:  I don’t believe eliminating drama 100% is the goal.  Life has its ups and downs.  And, let’s face it, drama in movies, TV and books can be quite entertaining.  That being said, my wish for you is to see and embrace the drama in your life in a new light that can serve you, not control you.  Here’s to less drama and more inner peace.

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