Here Is How To Say No To The Drama Without Creating More Drama
Have you ever seen that certain someone coming toward you and thought, “Oh no, not them. Not now!”?
Your day has been sailing along.
You have accomplished much of what you had set out to do; a few minor tweaks here and there, sure, and those you have handled effortlessly.
Your vitality and optimism have been building with each passing hour. You are feeling energized, productive and jubilant.
You are pretty much patting yourself on the back for a day well-lived.
And then you see them:
The one who is always in the middle of life’s drama.
The one who, like the Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes fame, stirs up everything in their path, leaving behind a trail of physical, emotional or mental destruction.
The one who seems to thrive on instigating chaos, confusion, and commotion.
The one who so easily puts their finger on their nose afterwards, in that kid’s way of saying, “Not me!”
The one whom you sometimes do not have the energy or desire to meet up with.
Agh! What to do?
How can you steer clear of this damaging presence that you really do not want to contend with?
Or if you cannot steer clear of it, then how can you meet it with the grace and dignity that protects and respects each of you?
Let’s take a closer look at this all-too-familiar scenario.
You know you have family members, friends, co-workers and customers who leave you feeling drained of energy, enthusiasm and time.
No matter how close of a relationship you have with them, your interactions tend to be driven by their drama of the moment. You listen. You suggest. You back away. You rescue. You, you, you.
And often, no matter how you try to connect with them, the crisis continues.
Well, dramatists are motivated by various needs:
They have a desire to be in the limelight and they seek to achieve this at almost any cost.
They are quick to betray your confidences, tend to over-share in inappropriate settings, and exhibit unpredictable mood swings.
They feel that the world owes them, and thus they readily choose to blame others rather than take responsibility for their own actions.
They are comfortable finding scapegoats when they mess up, throwing you under the bus, and playing the victim.
Reaping Positive Reinforcement
They crave recognition and positive reinforcement, and create situations in which to garner this.
They make catastrophes out of small concerns, out-do your stories of achievement or woe, and cry wolf and then insist on support or rescue.
Whatever their motivation, they cause you to question your judgement, your priorities, and yourself.
Psychiatrists say that the tendency toward stirring up drama may be due to genetics, trauma, environment, or personality disorder. As much as you try and want to, you may not be able to change their behavior.
So, to hold onto your optimistic outlook and energy, change your behavior with them.
Sound like a plan?
Here are some tips that have helped me avoid being sucked into the harmful vortex of negativity and destruction, plus a few others that I have found and added to my tool box:
- Step back and observe. When you feel yourself being drawn into the turmoil, physically and emotionally take a step back. Remember, this is their “stuff”. Reflect on what part you own, if any of it, and move forward from there. You may be able to help them, or maybe doing nothing is the biggest help.
- Decode their motivation. What is it that they hope to gain from this particular dramatic situation? Are they looking for positive reinforcement, attention, or to deflect blame? Understanding their needs allows you to meet them where they are and address the root cause rather than playing a role in their scenario.
- Hold a safe space for them. This may be a physical space or an emotional space. Either way, you are providing an energy of love and safety for them to draw from and rest into.
- Set boundaries. Respect yourself and all involved. Set your guidelines and boundaries, what you will allow and tolerate. Know what you will do if these get crossed and stick to that. Knowing what is best for you will be best for everyone.
- Face your own captivation with drama. Sometimes you find yourself in dramatic situations a little more often than you would like. What is up with that? Are you attracted to the neediness of others? Does their neediness make you feel important? Do you feel responsible for their well-being? Do you feel better about yourself and your life when comparing yours to theirs? Consciously knowing your motivation allows you to shift the dynamics of the situation.
- Don’t feed into their behavior. No matter how low they may go or what they may do, it does not mean that you need to go there too. Be kind and polite, honest and calm. Hold yourself to your own highest expectations. It may or may not influence them, but you will know that you showed them respect and integrity, and you protected yourself from soaking up their negativity.
- Recharge yourself. Toxic situations can be taxing on body, mind, and spirit. Be sure to take care of yourself whenever you have been subjected to these negative vibrations. Do something that fills you with joy and peace. Take a bike ride, eat some ice cream, meditate, write a poem, color a picture, play a game of cards…whatever makes your heart sing!
- Distance yourself. Sometimes you just need to walk away, for a while or for good. Honor yourself and them. Take the time that you need to center yourself again and align your actions with what is best for moving you forward.
Remember, the dramatist needs fuel. When no one is listening or feeding into their energy, they have no means of replenishing and fostering their chaos, confusion, and commotion.
Every day, every moment, you have a choice.
The next time you see that certain someone heading your way, with the whirlwind of drama already being whipped up around them, consider your options.
Jump into their stress, chaos, and pain?
Or stand tall in your strength, optimism, and love?
“Negative people need drama like oxygen. Stay positive, it’ll take their breath away.”
~ Tony Gaskins
Personally, I tend to love breathtaking moments. How about you?
If the sun is shining, my Crosstrek is calling me to fill up her tank, throw open her sunroof, and head for the back-roads. With wind in my hair, I smile at everyone I see. Grace smiles back at me (even through the trees).