It’s human nature to crave a little drama in our lives. When things are calm and stable, we can start to feel bored or restless—and then seek out drama to liven things up.
Why else do we watch shows like “The Real Housewives of New York City?” Because all that drama can be pretty exciting!
A little bit of drama isn’t always a bad thing. If you’re feeling bored at work and you take on an overly ambitious project, it may result in some stress in your life, but you may end up learning new things and achieving something great.
If you have an argument in your relationship, it may force you to resolve problems that you’ve been ignoring.
But when we constantly seek out drama to shake things up, it can wreak havoc on our lives.
As Dr. Keith Lee wrote in his book “Addicted to Chaos”:
“People are increasingly seduced into believing that intensity equals being alive. When that happens, the mind becomes wired for drama and the soul is starved of meaningful purpose.”
Yikes! All that drama sure can zap the confidence, joy and positivity out of our lives—and it can destroy our relationships and our careers.
So, are you ready to rid excess drama from your life and feel more positive and peaceful? Just follow this four-step process:
1. Identify the drama in your life.
Make a list of everything that causes stress in your life and feels like unnecessary drama. The easiest way to do this is to go through a typical day in your mind. When you drop your kids off at school do you always end up chatting with the school’s resident parent drama queen? When you call your sister-in-law are you overwhelmed by all the family gossip she wants to share? Put these things on your list.
2. Add to your list over the next 3 days.
Every time something stresses you out or feels like meaningless drama, add it to your list. You may want to carry your list around with you or put the list on your phone so you have it with you at all times.
After these 3 days, you should have a pretty good idea of where the drama is in your life.
3. Put everything on your list into 3 categories: “Stop,” “tweak” and “stuck with.”
Put things into the “stop” category that you have control over and can stop exposing yourself to immediately. Then, do exactly that. This may mean simply smiling and waving at that drama queen at drop-off—and then continuing to drive away without dishing over all the chaos in her life.
The “tweak” category is for things that you can’t stop exposing yourself to but that you can “tweak” to reduce the amount of drama that comes from them.
Remember the sister-in-law example? This is a good tweak drama. You can’t cut your sister-in-law out of your life but you can tweak the phone calls.
Start by saying, “Hey, I only have a few minutes so let’s go over the plans for the family reunion.” This gives the call an agenda and will hopefully keep the gossip to a minimum.
If this doesn’t work, take control by saying, “I have so much going on in my own family that I prefer not to be stressed with the drama of gossip.” Plain and simple.
The “stuck with” category is for drama that you have little control over. If your boss is a drama queen/king it’s hard to rid your life of them. For these things, you will need to find ways to simply deal with the drama. Which brings me to my next step …
4. Minimize the effects of the drama in your life.
For everything that you are “stuck with,” here are a few techniques to help you deal more effectively with the drama:
- Remain calm. When faced with a drama-filled experience such as a meeting with our boss, sometimes we struggle to remain calm. This causes our blood pressure to rise and then we get defensive. To remain calm, take a breath in slowly for 4 seconds. Hold it for 3 seconds. Then, exhale for 7 seconds. This will release anxiety and allow you to handle the situation more effectively.
- Resist speaking unless asked a direct question. Yes, I know how difficult this can be when you disagree with most of what is being said in the room. However, if the likelihood of your idea or comment being heard is zero, then why bother? Instead, make a note of it and then discuss it privately with the appropriate people afterward.
- Leave the drama where it started. Once the exchange is over, it’s over. It has no place in your life, so don’t take it with you! This means that when you hang up with your sister-in-law, don’t call your cousin to tell her the gossip. When you walk out of that meeting, don’t go back to your office and write an email to a colleague about your boss. And when you go to bed at night, instead of rehashing the drama of the day, make a list of all the good things in your life and all your blessings.
When you rid yourself of all that excess drama, imagine how zen you’ll feel! This will give you more energy to focus on what is truly important to you, like your business, your family and your relationships.
How will you eliminate drama from your life this week? Leave me a comment and let me know!