by Abigail Brenner M.D.
Unnecessary drama takes you away from living life to the fullest.
- Drama often accompanies major life changes and transitions. Unnecessary drama happens when people turn small issues into large problems.
- Drama is often created by those who need attention and excitement in their life.
- Strategies to avoid drama include creating healthy boundaries, limiting your time with drama-seekers, and focusing on your own business.
Life is full of ups and downs and sometimes, these ups and downs are sweeping dramatic events. In fact, drama often accompanies major life changes or transitions. These really big, monumental times in our lives affect us deeply, often changing the way we live, the course and direction of where we go and what we do. For the most part, these are normal and happen to most of us.
Then there are the dramas of everyday life—the way we see life, the way we process life, the way we’ve learned to deal with life from those around us. Some people view everything they do as incredibly challenging, monumental in its perceived outcome, and often fraught with catastrophic results if things go awry. So much of it is dependent on how people have experienced life as it unfolds. Some people just have that dramatic flair about them. Some people need drama to feel alive.
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Regardless of why people choose to process life in a dramatic way, the bottom line is that some people need to turn what most of us might consider very small issues into major problems. Before you try to figure out how to avoid other people’s drama, it’s important to ask yourself if you crave drama and why you might be attracted to it. For example, do you find it exciting to get embroiled in other people’s intrigues? Do you like creating drama because you get attention and draw other people into your life? Does drama make you feel important? Identifying that piece about yourself may help you understand why drama seems to follow you.
Once you’ve figured out if you’re part of the problem and what you can do about that, you can then focus on ways to avoid other people’s drama. Here are some points to consider.
1. Assess your relationships.
What kind of people are you attracted to and who do you draw into your life? Are there several people in your circle that need a lot of attention, or maybe it’s just one person? The point is to minimize people who bring drama to your life. For starters, look for people who are easy to be around, who are not demanding, and who have a positive outlook on life. Look for people who share themselves with you and who are there for you just as much as you’re there for them.
There may be times when someone really needs your time and support because their life has turned upside down and they’re counting on you to help them in a tough time. Being a caring friend includes those times when you may have to extend yourself, spend more time, and give more attention. That’s not drama; that’s being a good friend.
2. Consider how you interact with other people.
Be fully present. Learn to listen and observe before you jump in, especially if the interaction or conversation becomes reactive and emotional. If someone is being overly dramatic, step back and distance yourself. That could be emotionally and psychologically, or physically if need be. Don’t offer advice or solutions, especially if you haven’t been asked. Downplay the drama and try to change the course of the conversation to something more neutral.article continues after advertisement
If someone gets angry with you for not playing along with their drama you need to be upfront and honest about how you feel. You also need to tell them how much you’re willing to do for the relationship. If that’s not good enough for them, so be it. Step away from the relationship if someone can’t accept how you feel and insist that you continue to support them in a one-sided, often dramatic and stressful relationship.
3. Focus on your own life.
Your own life should be most important to you. It’s essential for your own well-being and growth to take care of your own business first and foremost. The more you do that, the less time you have to care about other people’s business.
Some of us believe that being a good human means that you need to sacrifice your time and effort in order to help others. That’s true to some degree—it’s important to care for other people and what happens to them. But never at the expense of yourself and your own well-being.
When you allow yourself to become deeply involved in other people’s drama, you may ultimately suffer. Sometimes what happens is that you end up caring more for others and what happens to them than they do for themselves. It’s not your responsibility to fix or solve other’s problems.
4. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.
Creating boundaries allows you to maintain control of how you relate to others. Gaining clarity about what you will do and what you won’t do helps you hold your ground and prevents you from being coaxed into entering into other people’s intrigues and dramas. Establishing boundaries sends the signal to others that you have your limits about how involved you are likely to become. When you set boundaries you are better able to distance yourself from others, less likely to engage in their issues and attach to their outcome.article continues after advertisementhttps://834b16d2f2cf56d14dfa63494d3ae9bd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
5. Develop strategies.
Sometimes, especially when we’re younger, we may get pulled into a situation that is so fraught with drama, so time-consuming, so stressful, so frustrating that we are left exhausted and depleted. But, ultimately, it could actually be a good learning experience. What it may teach us is what to look out for, the kind of person that may try to engage us in their dramas, and what we should be prepared to do in the event that they try to bring drama into our lives.
Remember that you can’t change or fix people. They have to want to do this themselves. But often maintaining a dramatic stance gets them more of what they think they want. And they will find and/or make drama wherever they go. So, don’t envision yourself as the savior.
Stay neutral, logical, and unemotional. In other words, don’t react. Getting people involved, emotional, and excited is the goal of drama-seekers. And the more, the merrier.
Worse comes to worst, physically distance yourself. Remove yourself while high drama is unfolding and things are unraveling. If necessary, remove yourself from the relationship for good.