Saturday, July 6, 2013

Drama Free?

One of the things that Iris and I share is a desire to live in a drama-free zone. It's not that we avoid challenging or volatile situations. It's just that we choose not to respond to them with high degrees of emotion.

For me, there are several reasons I choose to live in a drama-free environment. First, I have so much I want to do, I prefer not to spend time indulging in drama. If there's something that needs fixing, I'd rather just fix it and move on. Second, I'm never bored (at least not when I'm alone) or looking for something to do. I don't require drama for its entertainment value. Third, I find folks who frequently indulge in drama or who need drama to function to be particularly, hmm... the word that comes to mind is the drama-inspiring "useless", but let's go with "not particularly helpful."

I've known people who can dramatize pretty much any situation, overloading it with so much emotion that they're rendered incapable of action even after the problem has been remedied and it's time to move. They experience post-traumatic stress from self-induced trauma. When the chips are down, when the stakes are high, when the odds are against you, well, they're the last people you want to see walking through the door.

They fill their lives with drama. Over time, the drama becomes something without which they don't feel quite right. Eventually, the drama becomes their lives. Every tweet or post is laced with the tragedy of having to wake up with the kids or spend another day at work. Life is drama. I guess that works, that is, if you've got absolutely no life.

It's akin to what can happen to someone with hypertension. As the meds and dietary changes reduce her blood pressure, something feels off. She doesn't feel as energetic or alive as she used to feel. The discomfort triggers her body's self-regulation systems and voila, her blood pressure returns to "normal". The better she feels, the more cause for concern on the part of her doctor.

I know, that statement about "no life" may have been drama inspiring and that brings us to the point I was sure to reach. You see, like me, Iris prefers to live in a drama-free zone. She has reasons similar to mine. However, she also has reasons that are not. It's only recently that the others have come to light and the way I've come to understand them is by contrasting and comparing our drama-management techniques.

Whereas I prefer to surface and eradicate drama the moment I sense it, Iris prefers to ignore it or shove it back into the box. The general results are similar; we have a house that is drama-free about 99.95% of the time (that's about 5.04 minutes of drama per week). However, the specifics vary significantly. Whereas Iris avoids drama and dramatic people, drama and dramatic people tend to avoid me. Dramatic people love Iris, but me, not so much. Whereas I tend to speak my mind and be done with it, Iris tends to hold things inside and let them build up. I don't have pent up emotions or issues that I need to discuss; Iris sometimes does.

In short, the difference between Iris' and my drama management techniques is that I have some.

Over the past week or two Iris has been courageously waking up and processing drama that's been lying dormant for years. The existence of so many unprocessed bits of drama quickly led Iris to the conclusion that drama-avoidance may not be the best form of drama management.

This begged the question, "Then why have you been avoiding drama?"

The question suggested the possibility, "Perhaps you don't know how to manage drama?", a possibility that Iris immediately confirmed.

Once Iris recognized that she'd been avoiding rather than managing drama, the instances of her doing so currently became impossible for her to miss. Let's just say that opportunities for her to practice new techniques abound.  Further, just seeing the challenge for what it was made it easier to manage and significantly less dramatic. It's been and continues to be quite a process.

What's your drama quotient? Are you a drama-free kind of person or a drama-junky? How much time does drama consume? How do you manage drama? Do you ignore it? Do you avoid it? Do you instigate it? Do you eradicate it? What would change if you had less drama in your life? How would you change if you were less dramatic?

Happy Saturday,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great piece, Teflon. I’m generally of the same mind as you, except my drama coefficients are running in the 98.08%-99.73% range (that’s 1 week to 1 day of drama per year, typically around my birthday or anniversary - go figure). Though I guess I should get JD Power or some other external observer to provide my true rating, since almost by definition, I cannot identify when I’m being dramatic. The act of identifying drama requires one to step out of it (to some extent at least). The kind of drama I go for typically is Greek tragedies; not soap operas, farces or action thrillers. That preference might be a function of the personality type.

    I find, as you mention, that the amount of drama in a person’s life is typically inversely proportional to the sense of direction and urgency they have in their life (and also their expertise in managing & resolving conflict). Once we see, truly see, that drama is an obstacle to progress, our tendency to create drama fades. However, you do have a point about people who need drama for entertainment; I have trouble with them sometimes.

    I looked up the definition of drama. Other than the obvious references to plays, the meaning relevant to this discussion was: a state, situation, or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict of forces.

    "Intense conflict" is the operative phrase, though I must say one could very well generate drama with 'positive' emotions.

    I’m always on the lookout for effective tools and techniques to deal with drama generated by others. Among the tools I draw from:
    -Be a good listener to understand both the explicit and unspoken messages being delivered.
    -Reflect back to them my understanding in a way that they know their message was received
    -Take nothing personally
    -Know what to address now and what to table for later
    -Know how to negotiate
    -Act with integrity when a third party is involved
    -Interrupt skillfully when the message starts getting repetitive
    I’d love to hear what yours are.

    A bigger question is how to detect and defuse drama that one generates oneself. Hmmm.



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