How To Stop Getting Involved In Drama

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“Our best decisions are often what we choose not to get involved in.”

–Doug Cooper

One night I had a dream that I was standing in the middle of an empty park while a tornado surrounded me. I was silent and still, observing the wind as it swirled around, picking up gravel, swings, branches, leaves, and everything in its path. All of the park’s objects were moving uncontrollably around me, but I was still and untouched. I looked solid, but everything around me was being violently pulled in every direction. While everything was a mess, I was strangely calm.

My dream was symbolic of how I was feeling about some of the people in my life at the time. Perhaps you can relate. Do you ever feel like it’s just one thing after another with some people? Is there always a big mess that seems impossible to clean up? Does it somehow get resolved only to result in some other dramatic event down the road? There was a time in my life when I constantly felt like I was in the scene of an action movie having to fight off dozens of attackers at once. While watching these movies, I would ask myself, “Now how is the good guy going to fight through this one?” and watch anxiously to find out the answer.

 Why are some people so dramatic?

People can get comfortable with just about anything, even if it’s something that’s “supposed” to be uncomfortable, like drama. People live within the drama because it’s what they know. Just like in a soap opera, drama can be predictable, serving as a great distraction from the lives of the people involved.

I was never personally dramatic, and knowing this, I always blamed others for bringing their drama and issues into my life. Because of my calm and rational nature, I was the person that people came to for advice or support in dealing with a daily drama. However, the reason I was able to remain calm in the midst of tornados is because I had grown accustomed to such chaotic weather conditions. If I wasn’t living in other people’s drama, running to the rescue, being the calm one, then who was I? If I wasn’t the composed and collected one that everyone came to with their problems, then what was my worth?

Eventually, I had to face the truth: If I didn’t get caught up in other people’s drama, I would have to face my own life. Being the rational one amidst storms of drama was part of my core identity. It made me feel good about myself, giving me a false sense of superiority.

I came to discover that if I could get through the tornado, I’d come out the other side, able to focus on my own life. But what would that actually look like? For a long time I was able to avoid all my own negative feelings by getting wrapped up in other people’s experiences. Just like using drugs, gambling, or overworking, being involved in drama is a form of avoidance and distraction. We are good at convincing ourselves that we’ve got it all together and it’s the outside world that needs to be repaired.

We are so scared to live our own truth that we shove ourselves into other people’s issues. To be honest, I never saw it as drama. Instead I thought that I was merely making myself available to help other people fix their issues. After a while, though, I realized that the people who always came to me with drama would never stop, especially because I was making such an effort to help them feel better. I came to the realization that by getting involved in their drama, I was introducing drama into my own life. The saying, “If you entertain foolishness, you’ll become one of the fools” sums the experience up perfectly.

If you’ve found yourself in a similar pattern, it’s important that you not let it stop you from living your life and having the relationships you want with your friends and family. You deserve healthy relationships that include a balance of give and take.

Now that I do not get involved in other people’s tornados, I live a pretty content life. From the outside, my life must look pretty boring, but on the contrary, it’s amazingly relaxing and easygoing. I focus on my own life, which has allowed my judgments and sense of superiority to subside. Once I made time for myself, I began to know who I was and what I wanted. And I decided that even though I was never totally swept away by the tornados, it wasn’t serving me to be around them at all.

Tips On How Not To Get Involved In Drama

Take a step back – Getting involved in drama is usually a knee-jerk reaction, especially when you have been involved in it for a while. This is an emotional reaction instead of a thoughtful response to a situation. When we are reactive, we are driven by our emotions, and we take action without considering alternatives or consequences. You can start practicing responding rationally rather than reacting by taking a step back and thinking for a minute. This will allow you to be more mindful and come up with a meaningful response based on logic.

Pay attention to your body –If you pay attention when you are making an impulsive decision, you’ll notice that you feel the urge in your body. It becomes a physical symptom. Take a moment to pay attention to the physical urge you get to take action. Do you feel it in the pit of your stomach? In your chest? Where is it showing up?

Connect body and mind – Sometimes we can feel something without having made sense of it in our minds. Once we create a bridge to connect our body and mind we can start to understand and bring awareness to our emotions. Listen to what your emotions want you to do and try to figure out why. Our impulses, or decisions made solely based on emotions, usually lead us in the wrong direction. However, once we establish a mind-body connection we become capable of making better decisions.

Think about what other options you have – The next time you feel inclined to get caught up in someone’s drama, ask yourself what else can you be doing instead of getting involved. Think of the positive things that will happen if you act in a more constructive matter. If you keep getting involved the same way over and over again, nothing will change.

To break the pattern of drama, it’s important to first shift your perspective and pay attention to what you’ll be gaining by not getting involved. Because of it’s seductive nature, drama is easy to get wrapped up in if you don’t make a solid commitment to change. Just like a tornado it has a strong pull, and once you’re in it, it will swirl you around and spit you out. So develop a plan of action. Know that whether or not you get involved, situations have a way of working themselves out. If you meddle, it may just make things worse.

Talk soon,

Dr. Ilene

Article edited by Dr. Denise Fournier

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