I have a confession… I used to be a drama junkie! I would seemingly thrive on going from one dramatic moment to another. Whether it was getting divorced, a family disagreement, or even the fact that I was on the first flight into London after the bomb threat there. I had mastered the art of turning every event into a dramatic moment – all that was missing was the theme music in the background! I am not saying that each event didn’t merit some attention and action. But, in retrospect, most of them did not need to be blown up as much as they were.
Living in the Northeast, I have been inundated with snow storm drama since late last week! And when I say drama, I mean DRAMA!!!!
Instead of presenting facts, the media went on and on about the “storm of the century,” making everyone nervous about something that turned out to be overblown (so to speak…). Once the media went nuts, then Facebook took over – threads of blizzard protocols were posted, people started worrying about the strangest, remotest things. Everyone bought bread and milk, leaving stores bare. Drama, DRAMA, DRAMA!!!
Eventually it became almost like an addiction. No conversation happened with the mention of snow. The more talk of snow, the more you worried about snow, and what would happen. And finally even I became nervous!!! Would we lose power for thirteen days like we did during Hurricane Sandy????
In my drama junkie days, the adrenal rush was almost like a drug. I needed more and more drama to get that feeling!
However, after a particularly bad period of extreme drama (and I mean extreme), I made a decision that I was done with living like this. I was exhausted and did not want to attract one more episode that provoked a dramatic response. So, I made a decision to give it up. Yup, totally. I no longer wanted to be the person that people called because I always had a dramatic story to tell – to the point that keeping up with my life was like watching a soap opera. I wanted space to breathe and to not always be in reaction mode.
I was really clear about how I wanted to change my life, so I clearly stated that I was over it. Just like a junkie giving up smoking or another bad habit. I was DONE!!
So as I watched the storm of the century drama unfolding over the past week, I suddenly realized, that we have, as a nation, become drama junkies!!!
Realizing you are a drama junkie is hard because we have allowed it to become “normal”. However, choosing to stay this way creates internal stress and often leads to bad habits such as unconscious eating, etc. Here are some indicators that you are a drama junkie:
- You constantly listen to the news over and over to hear the same story, waiting for subtle shifts and updates.
- You call your friends/family and tell them how bad things are, resulting in them worrying too.
- Is it easier for you to share the bad stuff instead of the good stuff? Think about it…. No one says – it is going to be the most beautiful day tomorrow, let me help you plan something really awesome to do. But, instead, we are happy to call and discuss the rain, snow, heat, etc. ad nauseum…
- You find it much easier to complain about something that your spouse did wrong rather than say something nice about what he/she did right. And you find yourself complaining about the same thing over and over and over…..?
- You find yourself getting worked up about things you cannot control, often obsessing about it.
- You spend too much time on social media where you have all your worries validated.
To give up being a drama junkie, I had to look at how I responded to events in order to change the way I dealt with things that happened. After all, “things” were not going to stop happening. The only thing that COULD change was how I dealt with it!
I remember seeing a sign on a store window that said, “Bad planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine.” I took this to heart.
- I literally stopped watching the news and anything that was trying to induce fear (the more the media hyped an event, the more I worked to block it out). Think about it – the media generates ratings through amplifying the drama. Would anyone care if they said it was a normal winter storm? But STORMAGEDDON drives ratings and eyeballs!!!
- I stopped talking about everything that wasn’t working in my life with everyone who would listen. The more you talk about something, the more mental bandwidth it gets, the more you think about it, and, yes, the more drama that surrounds it!
- Every time I started to worry about something that was out of my control, I consciously started to think about something else. Amazingly enough, my focus changed.
- I avoided having protracted conversations with people who liked to complain about the drama in their lives. I noticed that after such interactions, I was viscerally drained. I chose to no longer let that happen – and the contagious aspects of drama lessened in my life.
- I found positive, like-minded people who wanted the same thing and we gave each other permission to point out when we were sliding back into drama mode.
I put these steps into place and after about four months, I started to feel strange. At some point I realized that my old friend “drama” had left my life. Instead, it was quiet and peaceful. At first, I didn’t know what to do without drama. At times I wanted that adrenal rush again. But, luckily, I stayed firm and I am happy to say that almost six years later drama and I don’t meet very often (we do have an occasional reunion – I am human, after all). However, I know that for me to have my life, my way, I cannot let drama stay around too long.
I saw drama briefly over the snow obsessions this week. I felt myself pulled into her web… And, then I remembered that I could choose to invite her into my life again or not. It was up to me.
And it is up to you… If you find that life is too stressful, and you want to have a different experience, please reach out to me.
It’s so much more fun over here in the sunny land with little or no drama. Give it a try….
Reposted with Permission from http://deborahshimer.com/are-you-a-drama-junkie/