I hear often from clients that they want less drama in their lives. It’s such a reasonable wish to prefer times of peace, fun, and moving forward toward goals and dreams.
Hollywood is expert at creating drama. Let’s look to them for some guidance on how not to do life.
To heighten drama, it’s important that the main character…..
Ignore red flags or any bad gut feelings about a person or situation. Maybe they are letting love or infatuation make them blind to all the signs that the person they are falling for is questionable or has a scary ex. Maybe he or she believes that they need to rush and get married in order to be happy because “marriage guarantees being happily ever after.” Or perhaps they take a job that they know in their gut isn’t going to be a good thing. Three years later, they end up quitting after so much verbal abuse and belittling.
To heighten drama, the main character needs to be isolated – not in close connection/communication with a healthy friend or family member.
Not ask anyone for personal or professional help because they fear that seeking help means they are weak or crazy – and would be ashamed if anyone found out.
Be out of control with drugs and alcohol and not be seeking help through a 12-Step program.
Has inappropriate boundaries – does not tell people no. He or she doesn’t set limits or remove himself or herself from interacting with a person who does not treat them or others well.
Is not open to input. He or she stays in a bad situation despite advice from people who care about them.
Makes impulsive decisions without first gathering information or pausing to “sleep on it.”
Is in a bad financial downward spiral. He or she feels ashamed and avoids asking a professional or even experienced friend for guidance. He or she doesn’t take advantage of debt-relief programs because of embarrassment or judgment that people who do that are “lame or bad.”
Neglects their own health.
So then what are some steps to avoid drama? I think you know where I’m going with this. If we flip this recipe for Hollywood drama to its’ opposite, then we have a list of actions we can take to avoid drama in our own lives.
- Pay attention to red flags and bad gut feelings about people and situations.
- Stay connected and in communication with healthy people in your life.
- When appropriate, be willing to ask for personal or professional help.
- If you find yourself getting addicted to anything (drugs, food, video games, porn) find a 12-Step group or counselor that feels like a right fit and don’t give up until you feel free of the addictive behavior.
- Have strong, consistent boundaries – get comfortable with saying “no.”
- Invite and be open to input from healthy people who care about you. We all have blind spots. You can take what they say under serious consideration, filtering it through your own discernment and intuition.
- Take time to make thoughtful, informed decisions. So often we rush ourselves to decide before we have reached a moment of clear, grounded knowing.
- Tend to your health even if it’s not what you want to do right now, even if you have some fear. Even if you are really busy, get the check-up scheduled. If you are limited financially, start asking people and researching online and please don’t give up. There are often surprising resources available. You have the power to take the steps to find them.
Some drama is totally out of our control. Terrible random things can happen in life that we will never be able to explain.
Other drama actually can be avoided.
In the midst of a rough situation, we can all so easily slip into feeling like a powerless victim – and feel that there isn’t anything we can do to improve our situation. It can be very hard to see where we actually do have the power of choice to prevent or end drama in our lives.
We can stop the cycle of nagging our alcoholic spouse and get ourselves to counseling or to the 12-Step group Al-anon for people affected by loved ones’ addictive behavior..
Maybe we stop contorting our lives by isolating in order keep our spouse’s problem secret from others. We can communicate directly and start setting true limits with the addiction behavior so that we aren’t enabling the decline of the person we love.
Or perhaps your brother who you love dearly keeps not going to the doctor even though he is worried about a mole that he has shown you. You stay silent because you don’t want to interfere or be seen as a controlling meddler. You tell yourself something spiritual-sounding like: “Everyone has their own path.”
The truth is – deep down – you don’t want to be silent with your brother. You want to be honest. You are scared that he might have melanoma and want him to get it looked at. You ask him to go for a walk and have a heart-to-heart talk that initially pisses him off, but then results in his going to the doctor. The mole is found to be melanoma – but it was caught early enough. Great drama and suffering were avoided.
Thank goodness there are steps we can take to reduce the amount of drama in our lives.
Very best wishes to you,
Judy O’Neill, MSW