“Drama”, the catch-all phrase that is often used to describe an overreaction to stress, disagreements, negativity and other sometimes frustrating life events. Many people believe it is avoidable and unnecessary, even dramatic people feel this way, when on the wrong side of it. However, stress is a constant in life. Some situations will naturally cause commotion, such as losing one’s job or ending a relationship with a significant other. How one chooses to deal with those circumstances can bring more rapid peace or can exacerbate the problem.
The dilemma with this is that there is a fine line between natural stress and an overreaction that can lead to worse issues. “Creating drama” in this sense can be defined as, but not limited to, antagonizing others, placing an unreasonable amount of significance on a small incident, manipulation, gossip, or provoking turmoil between relationships or among a group of people. Almost everyone has been a victim of created drama at some point or another, and it often can bleed into other areas of one’s life causing unhappiness and unneeded stress. So how do we cope with this sort of created drama, particularly if we are not the ones who created it?
- Avoid gossip. Gossip is an easy way for drama to creep into our lives. It is normal and healthy to have a trusted family member or close friend with whom you tell about your struggles and frustrations. But, it can be helpful in those situations to remind them that you are not asking for a fix, rather that you only need to process through your own feelings. If you are on the receiving end, it is important to remember you are a trusted confidant with whom they have chosen to share their thoughts. Protect the confidentiality of those conversations. Hearts are fragile and we are relational creatures. Those bonds are so important and honoring them with an open door for sacred conversation is important.
- Avoid extremes. People who are creating drama tend to see problems in a superfluous manner: “I had the worst day ever.” “This is the worst thing that ever happened.” We’ve all had those thoughts, but how long do those thoughts last? Generally, less than twenty -four hours! When feelings are hurt, or someone is stressed, things can feel worse than they are. So, keep yourself in check with those negative and extreme descriptions. Acknowledge that things may be less intense than they seem at the time. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, journal your thoughts. This may help soften the sharp feelings. When talking to a trusted friend, or even talking with yourself, softening some of these drastic words will be helpful in de-escalating your own feelings and certainly may keep it from seeming worse than it is to others. When you are the listener, maintain your own centeredness. Find balance within yourself so as not to be drawn into someone else’s extremes. This is not only for your benefit, but also for theirs and may help them to regulate their extremes more easily.
When someone does come to you with an issue, see that as a testament to the safety they feel in you. You can set the tone for those conversations by helping them to shift from an emotional stance to a more balanced, softer stance simply by listening. Do not buy into the extreme emotional thinking that they may be experiencing. Maintain good boundaries, and remember that we have all been there. We have all been overly upset at times, and we all have close friends or family members who have felt that way as well. Keep kindness at the center: kindness to those who need the shoulder to cry on, and kindness to others that may be the subject of the discussion. By remembering there are two sides to every story, and reminding yourself of your own good boundaries, you will be better able to manage tough situations without succumbing to others’ negative feelings. In fact, you may find that they rebound much more quickly as well.