I am a simple person with a simple outlook on life and unless I’m watching it on stage or screen, I absolutely despise drama. If I feel so much as a solitary goosebump of drama, I will get away as fast as possible. Well, best not to run, but I’ll do that walk-run thing you do when you see so-and-so on the other side of the street and you know it’s a really good idea to walk-run away from so-and-so.
Despite being a marvellous good time on the screen, drama is real life is ugly. Drama makes me break out in a cold sweat that somehow makes me feel burnt. It makes my stomach roll. It makes my heart thud. When drama is around, positivity and kindness are often the first victims and things get negative and sweaty and mean so quickly. Drama rides along with back-stabbing, guilt, nastiness, defensiveness and pettiness; it brings out the absolute worst in people. Drama is a piece of work all right!
So, how can we avoid drama? And if we can’t walk-run away from drama — because so often drama hunts us down like prey (it truly does) — how can we quickly get rid of it? How can we wipe off the ugly?
Here are my strategies for avoiding drama:
1. Take a deep breathe and wait. The ability to have a tumultuous situation happen around you, but to remain calm and not react immediately, is a very hard thing to do. I’m the kind of person who reacts in an instant, but I’ve learned over many years to keep that reaction to myself until I’ve fully assessed a situation. In a weird way, that means I’ve learned not to necessarily trust my gut reaction. You don’t know how you really feel about something until you’ve seen the big picture and worked out where you fit into it.
2. Decide if you want to react at all. In my experience, most of the time, drama explodes in an instant and then quietly slinks away. If you can withstand the immediate explosion (see above), you may not have to do much at all. Perhaps you’ve worked out that the consequences of reacting will be far greater than the temporary burden of doing nothing. Believe me, I know how heavy doing nothing can feel, but feeling like you ‘should’ be reacting is not reason enough to do something you will regret. Feeling like you’ll ‘look weak’ if you don’t react is not reason enough to react and prove that you actually are as weak as they thought.
3. Admit fault when fault is there. Once I’ve taken a deep breathe, assessed the situation and decided how I want to react, I often have to admit to myself that I’m at fault too. Drama rarely exists in a vacuum. When this is the case, humility conquers all. An apology and an offer to make it up to someone will take the heat out of any explosion. Even if you feel like the other person is more ‘responsible’ for the problem than you are, there is a lot to be said for living graciously. Admit fault, diffuse the situation, move on with your life.
4. Express yourself, but don’t lose sight of yourself. You can be pissed off, angry, offended or annoyed, but those emotions do not need to be accompanied by nastiness, pettiness, meanness or unkindness. If you chose to engage in the drama, do so with an open heart and a clear understandng of your values. Don’t sink when you can rise.
5. Allow someone to ‘get away with it’. Sometimes I’m not at fault (or at least, I can’t see how I am, which is probably not the same thing at all, but still), but I feel like I want to react because I don’t want the other person to think their behaviour is okay by me. I hate injustice even more than I hate drama. I do believe in karma, but I still hate the thought that someone might ‘get away with’ poor behaviour. I’m sure you’ve been there. Isn’t it hard to back away when this is the case? I find it very hard. But I remind myself of all the things I’ve mentioned in point 2: the cost needs to be worth more than the fight and, spoiler alert, it so rarely is.
6. Check that you are truly at peace with your decision. There is nothing worse than choosing to walk away from a drama but kicking yourself forevermore thereafter. I always make sure I am 100% okay with my decision before letting something go. I’ve learned to forgive myself for backing down from a fight. I’ve learned to distract myself immediately after with something that uplifts me. Perhaps it will flash before me from time to time, a small regret passing on drama’s breeze, but mostly, I just wipe off the ugly as I walk away.
How do you manage the flashes of drama in your life? Any good strategies to share?
PS – This might help too: Dealing with Difficult People #11: Drama Queens