DRAMA can be finicky in how it shows up and what triggers it. But since it is grounded in our fundamental needs going unmet, we can hone in on certain circumstances that might set off a DRAMA episode. These fundamental needs, which are not always at the forefront of our minds but are still driving our behaviors, are the needs for: love and connection, variety, to be valued, and to have a sense of security. When these needs are threatened or encroached upon, DRAMA tends to raise its ugly head, simply as a means to get our needs met. It seems counter-intuitive, but somehow its effective.
So here are a few things that might be “in the room” that could set the stage for DRAMA, and what to do to help the situation.
- Overwhelm. People who are overwhelmed can’t think clearly. Their brain is consumed with chaos and unable to operate in ways that will manage emotional states, be in connection with others, make clear decisions or control impulses. This is prime ground for DRAMA! The way out is to provide structure or a plan and take something off the plate. Keep it simple and commit only to the W.I.N.: What’s Important Now.
- Boredom. Being bored or under-stimulated has a similar effect on brain functioning as being overwhelmed. It becomes hard to delay instant gratification, maintain focus or generate empathy for another person. We need novelty and new experiences, so when Boredom wants to invite DRAMA to the party, find something new and different (and meaningful) to focus on and engage with.
- Miscommunications. Emails and text are frequently the culprit of feeling misunderstood or not seen and heard. A simple fix: pick up the phone! Have an actual conversation with the person to let them know how you feel or what you need — or that you value and appreciate them. Or both. How about that?
- Lack of recognition. Oh, boy… someone else is taking credit for your work. Or not taking the time to express gratitude or recognize the value you’ve brought. Unfortunately, it’s not personal. And it’s actually your job to recognize you. It’s nice when others do as well. But when you’ve done a good job and can pat yourself on the back, it makes it easier when other people are absorbed in their own worlds and not tend to yours. Then go to a source that can recognize and appreciate your efforts… sans DRAMA.
- Perceived threats to security. And the key word here is perceived. Anytime we think something is about to mess with our safety, the limbic system in the brain starts blaring: Flight!….no, Freeze!… no, Fight! The DRAMA-free way is to evaluate whether the perceived threat is really valid or whether you just need a snack or a nap. Start asking questions to do a DRAMA check… like “It is true?” or “What’s the best case scenario?” or “What are the possibilities in this?” Now if someone is actually literally threatening you or a loved one then yes, run! or attack! But most of the times this is not the case, and we just DRAMAtize our victim perceptions. Push the PAUSE button and start asking some questions. Your vision will clear right up so you can act in a more empowered way.