Having spent many years in the club dancing scene, I’ve seen more than my share of drama. Guys congregate, put on their game faces, and figure out their plan of attack. Women dress to the nines and raise their skirts higher than their normal comfort levels. Mix in alcohol, hormones, and egos, and you’ve created a time bomb for some disastrous situations.
Guys fight over girls. Girls fight over guys. Bad bouncer did this. Creep tried to start that. Sometimes, the fighting, verbal or physical, spills out onto the street, and strangers swarm to witness the spectacles. How did the fight start? Can you believe …? I heard she …
I’ve long since learned to avoid all the aforementioned situations, and actually, if I feel a bad energy from a venue, I don’t have a problem with calling it an early night.
In fact, I’ve made it a habit to avoid drama altogether to the point of becoming allergic to it.
I have no interest in listening in on conversations about people. I tame any road rage whenever I’m driving or cycling. I have no need to make people see my point of view, or to be too attached to any viewpoints for that matter.
I don’t watch television, because all what’s popular these days seem to be the lowest forms of drama. The last time I glanced at The Learning Channel’s programs, it looks like documentaries and animal shows have long been superseded by cake competitions boasting “REAL DRAMA!” Really?
I don’t read the news. I’m sure some big headlines are making the news today, but if you read a random headline a year from now, they’ll be screaming something else in bold-type caps. Really, take a look at this snapshot I took two years back.
The truth is that we are all naturally addicted to drama.
Why do I have to get the last word? Why is that stupid reality TV show so much fun to watch? Why do I keep checking the news every morning? Why do I keep sharing that story about that rude sales associate? Why do I give my partner the silent treatment? Why does blowing off steam at someone kind of feel good?
Drama, in its milder forms, actually makes us feel alive, like it’s giving us a purpose albeit a false one. It feeds the ego and one’s sense of “self”. When we criticize someone else or a situation, we can seek comfort in being right or even the better person. If there is no immediate drama in our lives, then TV shows, the news, or gossip can fill the void. Whatever it takes to elevate the ego.
By seeking differences in others, it reinforces our identities of who we think we are. Without our identities, our egos become threatened and must react for self-preservation. This is why we need a continuous stream of drama to feed our egos. Otherwise, our life purpose might become non-existent, or at the least, life would be incredibly dull and uninteresting.
OK, I know I’m diving into a deeper topic now and might be losing you, but the short of it is that I’m suggesting the seemingly uninteresting path. It might feel mind-numbingly mundane at first, but after a while, you’ll adapt and discover how great it is to live more peacefully and free from all that drama crap.
Here are some quick tips to tone down the drama in your life. Remember, it’s the sum of small steps that conquer the beast.
1. Cut out television, or at least, reality television. Reality television was designed to capture drama. It’s not real life – it’s scripted, edited, and set up to create drama. Real life is much more tame. You really don’t want your life to be a narcotics-fueled roller coaster ride. I wrote some tips for doing this long ago.
2. Avoid the news. Try substituting water cooler conversations with a question like: When’s the last time you skydived/built a robot servant/lived a day without your phone/did yoga? Even talking about the weather is better for you.
3. Try to catch yourself getting defensive or reacting if arguing, being criticized, or having your views challenged. If possible, resist the urge to respond immediately. Instead, step back, breath deeply, and avoid taking things personally.
4. Avoid debating these hot topics for 30 days: religion, politics, gun control, abortion, or the “sad state” of the world. Trying to change other people’s minds about certain hot topics is often more destructive than constructive. Feel free to cruise the comments of any partisan news article and watch the comment quickly degrade into insults. Please limit your reading if you want to retain your sanity.
5. Don’t hang out with someone who’s obviously manipulative. Their drama becomes your drama.
6. Catch yourself listening to gossip. Like point #5, drama is not only addictive, but highly infectious. Listening to it will turn you into a drama zombie, so you have to eradicate it in its innocuous forms. First ask yourself: Would the person being discussed be OK with what is being said? If the answer is no, change the topic, offer little to no feedback, or divert your attention elsewhere.
7. Throw out small apologies. In small moments of friction with other people, an apology, whether you’re right or wrong, goes a long way. More on this later.
8. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focusing on petty situations will make you petty, so don’t sucked into a vortex of principles.
9. Read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. Read it twice at least, since it might fly over your head the first time through. Feel free to focus on the chapters that resonate with you the most. Much of what I write is an interpretation of Eckhart Tolle’s work and other similar authors’ works.
With all that said, I’m not saying I’m immune to drama. If someone verbally attacks me, I may feel a natural inclination to retaliate, but by stepping back and watching myself like a third person, I allow myself to see bigger picture and handle tough situations maturely.