Do you feel that so much of your life is in a constant state of drama that it’s starting to make you feel exhausted or angry most of the time? That even minor irritations seem to blow out of all proportion and soon the volume is turned to maximum on all your emotional responses? There is a way to start to turn down the volume; to feel less pressure to react, to respond or to try and resolve the matter… Follows are some options you might want to consider to help get you started…
The drama of a situation is mostly to do with the story about the event or situation that we tell ourselves. What may start as a small over-reaction soon becomes amplified to the point where both the situation and our reaction to it could rival a movie production. Our constant state of physical arousal is such that our bodies can no longer identify what is a real threat to our well-being and what is just another rant… The result being our body thinks it is constantly in flight or fight mode – the frequently high levels of adrenalin and cortisol in our systems can soon start to cause problems. The release of stress hormones is a normal physiological response to a stress situation. The release of stress hormones in small amounts is actually good for us – they heighten our senses, improve brain function and increase alertness, to name but a few benefits.
However, the long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including: anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain and memory and concentration impairment. That's why it's so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life.
Are you addicted to the drama of everything? Maybe you actually enjoy making a scene, or acting out a role of being the one-in-charge, or maybe you prefer to play the victim; are your reactions to garner sympathy or command attention? What is it about your own beliefs about yourself, or your own character - that don’t allow you give a quiet response, a more measured response – what is the real reason behind why you habitually act as you do?
The key word is habit. Instead of: “Argh, the toast is burnt again; I must remember to buy a new toaster when I’m out. In the meantime I’ll make another slice, and this time I’ll watch to catch it before it burns!”
Or is your reaction: “F*** this useless toaster – it’s burnt the toast again! I told you we needed a new one, but no-one f*** listens anymore! What does someone have to do to get a decent piece of toast these days?!”
It’s not too difficult to see which reaction is going to get the body in full arousal mode and probably set the tone for all other interactions during the day as well. Which reaction is the one that will serve you better in the long run?
We all get to choose our reactions. Our thoughts create our emotions. We have control over what thoughts we believe. Most thoughts we have are stories we create about a situation; filtered through the lenses of our values, beliefs, upbringing, life experiences, and a myriad of other cultural and environmental influences. If we think something is good, bad or indifferent; then all responses are correct – for we select the evidence that matches the truth we want to believe; and usually disregard the evidence that doesn’t support our selected truth.
That may take some digesting – that we choose our emotions. It’s not the toaster that made you angry, or the burnt toast – it was you. You chose to be angry. You could have chosen a more subdued reaction, or not reacted at all. It’s burnt toast – who cares? Make another piece, buy a new toaster! Get over it – it’s not the end of the world…
Maybe the burnt toast just another way you use to lash out to express how dissatisfied you are with something else in your own life? It could equally be the dog-poo on the lawn, the dirty dishes in the sink, the empty milk bottle left in the fridge, a car that cut in-front of you without indicating… If most things elicit a dramatic and inappropriate response – then indeed there are likely unresolved issues about your own life or living situation that probably need some attention. Projecting your dissatisfaction onto unrelated events or situations, through in-appropriate reactions is a clear signal that all is not well. Maybe what’s happening is nothing to do with you anyway – so why do you need to get involved? Leave it to others to manage, step back and let the situation unfold without your involvement.
So stop! Take some time to reflect – ask yourself three whys; starting with why did I react that way? Examine your responses and check if you are telling yourself a story – is that really true – how do you know? What is really at the bottom of the dramas you create in your life?
Once you start to notice that your reactions are out of proportion – acknowledge the point and move on. Be kind to yourself during the process. As you start to notice more – usually your reactions start to reduce as well. Keep observing, asking yourself why did I really respond that way – what else is going on that needs my attention – is my reaction a smokescreen for something else? Digging a little deeper will help uncover those unhelpful beliefs that may be colouring your impression of the world.
If you want some help to reduce the drama in your life, then give me a call!