Most of us are drama queens—yes, even you, my macho friends! While it is pleasant to hear good news from others, most of us are more easily sucked into situations where something unusual and oftentimes dreadful occurs. Psychologists say that urge comes from an inborn biological imperative in place designed to keep us safe and constantly on the look out of danger. But for most of us, our lives are routinely safe and secure. So, instead of looking out for lions and tigers and bears, we are drawn into the dramas around us with amazing fascination. And instead of choosing something saner or more helpful, we frequently pass it on to others rather than taking the high road and doing otherwise. That’s why it is SMART to let go of your inner drama queen and instead become a queen of calm.
And lest you think otherwise, I’m talking about me here too. Although I realize that it is best to be the Queen of Calm, I too am often hypnotized by the emotional roller coaster that is daily life. Fortunately, I realize how detrimental that is and do my best to focus on the peaceful rather than the drama. How? Mostly with practice. I do my best week after week to stop, become aware, and choose differently. Of course, there are other steps that help along the way—they are:
1) Watch the stories you tell. When you are talking with friends—or sometimes just casual acquaintances—do you tell stories about yourself or others that highly dramatic? Do you often find the focus of your conversations includes, “ain’t it awful?” Stop it! Vow today that the only conversation you will have is about something uplifting and positive—or keep your mouth shut!
2) Stop watching the news! That’s right—all news, especially television news—is presented in the most dramatic fashion possible. TV networks know that people are instinctively drawn to drama so they spin it in a way that grabs your attention with a focus on fear. And because they are all about viewers and ratings, they are less concerned with truthfulness than they are with making it sound incredibly dramatic. Face it—if you regularly watch the news you are being manipulated for the benefit of the advertisers. If you must know what is going on in the world—and that is a good thing—read about it on the internet and monitor the “drama factor” carefully.
3) Avoid gossiping. Gossiping is talking about other people and what is going on in their lives. And yeah, in order to make it interesting, it is tempting to dramatize the story as much as possible. But if we’re honest, gossip is just mostly a distraction from thinking about what is going on—or not going on—in our own lives. Stop using gossip to distract yourself or others from taking positive and helpful steps in your own life.
4) Be about your own business—in other words, focus on your own life and the things you have control over, and let go of everyone else’s life. Just like with gossiping, many of us are overly concerned and interested in what is going on with everyone else. Instead of digging in and working on our own issues, it is much more entertaining to try to micro-manage everyone else around us. Family members usually provide excellent material because we care about them—at least that’s our excuse. The truth is that once a person is an adult—they are going to pretty much do what they want and need to do for them, and there is little we can do about it. By making their “business” our business, we are not really helping them much and we are doing a great deal to frustrate and abuse ourselves. Our business is taking care of our own lives—their business is theirs to do.
5) Refuse to play the drama game. The truth is even if you are diligent about all of the above steps there are still people in your world that will do their best to suck you into drama. Sometimes this is because you have trained and allowed them to do it in the past and they assume you want to continue. Stop it! If you have to tell them that you don’t want to play that game again, do it. Or instead, whenever they go to drama just distract them towards something else. We do that with our puppy Kloe all the time. Instead of punishing her, we distract her with something else that is good and appropriate. Eventually Kloe (just like the drama queens in your life) will get the idea that you are not a drama player and they will stop it or move on.
Being a drama queen is a distraction from living a SMART life 365—but there is another way. That way is attempting to radiate an example of calm in every situation. Both a good and bad example of that occurred yesterday. After a quick trip to Costco, Thom and I arrived home to our vacation condo in Carlsbad. As we walked to our front door, we noticed smoke pouring out the upstairs window of the townhouse right next to ours. A neighbor immediately called the fire department and Thom and several others tried to break into the condo to put out the fire. Meanwhile, in case the fire spread, we grabbed Kloe and our computers and took them to the car parked in the garage. Local firemen showed up, broke down the door, and eventually put the fire out. Although the fire had the potential to be very damaging, to us and others who were connected, it did not spread. Only the unit involved was damaged.
Unfortunately when something likes this happens it is easy to start imagining what “could have happened.” To make matters worse we had met the young couple next door, knew that they had just gotten married, just purchased new furniture, and were pregnant. While I could dispel my own worry, I started catastrophizing for our young neighbors. Guess how the young husband responded when notified? When told his home had been involved in a fire, he calmly said something like, “no problem.” That’s when I remembered that as a member of the military, he’d recently returned from a tour in Iraq. In other words, from his perspective, he’d seen and been through much worse. Of course, this example points out perfectly that it wasn’t my drama to begin with. Obviously more practice is needed.
If SMART Living is a path to a life of greater happiness and well being then drama needs to go. And think about it, who really wants to be a drama queen anyway? For myself, I’d much rather be known as a queen of calm.
“Learn to be calm and you will always be happy”.- Paramahansa Yogananda
“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.”– Thich Nhat Hanh