We find ourselves surrounded by drama all the time. Turn on the TV, the Dr.’s on Grey’s Anatomy are dealing with bullet wounds, love triangles, and inoperable brain tumors. Watch the news and it is full of terrible things, kidnappings, shootings, political unrest. Turn to social media and you’ll find people arguing over absolutely everything, sharing their ailments and stress, and they’ll be even more stories of terrible things happening to people.
The problem is we’ve glamorized the drama to such an extent we don’t even realize it. We route for the survivors and overcomers, and wouldn’t have them without the trouble they’ve gone through. We watch movies and TV shows full of high-stress situations and love to see our favorites come out on the other side. We soak up stories of tragedy and unrest, arguing about the causes or what could be done. We glamorize people who have bad tempers or “you don’t want to mess with.”
We’ve become programmed to commiserate with negativity and drama so much more than with positive or happy things. Don’t believe me? Post a negative status on Facebook and see how many people comment, share in your stress, or get angry with you. Then post a positive one. You’re likely to get a few likes, maybe a stray comment or two but probably not near the response you got on the negative one. Say something bad about a restaurant you recently visited, and you are likely to have people speak up about their bad experiences too.
The problem with this constant state of stress and drama is that it works its way into your life. It becomes something that you go looking for, and that you, without realizing it, start to crave.
You see stress, drama, anger… all the negative emotions stimulate our brains the same way drugs do. We get a rush of adrenaline, the whole fight or flight thing, it’s a high and our bodies start to crave more of it. It starts to feel abnormal when we’re not feeling it, so we go looking for it. That can manifest itself as picking a fight with our spouse, getting irritated with a colleague at work, or engaging in a pointless social media battle.
“Both emotional and physical stress activate our central nervous system, causing a “natural high,” says Concordia University neuroscientist and addiction specialist Jim Pfaus. “By activating our arousal and attention systems,” Pfaus says, ‘stressors can also wake up the neural circuitry underlying wanting and craving — just like drugs do.’” (source)
Our brains start to crave the drama drug just as they would any other, the chemicals produced are the same, and the only way to get away from it is to become mindful of our craving and take steps to break our bad drama habits.
First, take stock and be honest with yourself. Do you feel stress and anxious all the time? Do you get easily irritated? Do you find yourself engaging in situations that really don’t have to affect you, but you get involved anyway? Do you get upset over things you can’t control, and situations with people you don’t even know?
If your answers are yes, chances are you are battling a drama addiction. You may think your stress and anxiety are a condition, or something you can’t control but there is a distinct possibility that those feelings are actually the status quo that your brain is trying to maintain because you have been feeding it drama for too long.
You see our brains are hardwired to try and keep us from getting hurt. Ironically that can become the very thing that does us harm. Let me explain. You get all worked up and stressed out over something, and your brain gets all adrenaline rushed. The next time a similar situation presents itself your brains says, “Oh I know what we’re supposed to do here” and starts on that stress response again! In essence, you have trained your brain to react to certain circumstances with a big response. To control situations, and keep you from getting hurt, the brain jumps into action in accordance to what has “worked” before.
Once you get into that cycle and feel that rush of stress hormones you look for more and more.
The good news is that once you become aware of it it gets much easier to steer clear of drama and tame the addiction.
The best way is to learn to pause. It seems super simple, but it is the very best advice I can give. Pause, take a breath, become aware of what you are doing, and react intentionally instead of reacting with a reflex. By doing that you begin to retrain your brain. We don’t lose our shit in this situation, we pause, we breathe, we are calm. It starts to realize that is the new pattern.
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We need to focus on positive feelings and wanting to fill our lives and our brains with them instead of negative ones. We want to focus on gratitude, kindness, love, friendship and less on stress, anger, frustration and drama. You see when the focus becomes positive that is what we start to crave instead of craving the negative!
Think about where your drama is coming from. Are you putting yourself into situations and around people that are toxic? It’s time to start separating yourself from them.
Are you engaging in arguments, Facebook debates, or ugly gossip, because you want to give your two cents, or are afraid of missing something? It’s time to start thinking about what conversations you engage in and what is worth your time and stress.
Are your personal relationships a source of drama? This one is hard because relationships can be really complicated but I’ll offer this much. If you are in a relationship where you are used to arguing, or sniping at each other, where you are sarcastic or passive aggressive it can be a hard pattern to break. But start taking a pause before reacting. If your spouse, friend, or child says something or does something that would normally set you off, take a breath. Make a conscious decision to react calmly. Don’t engage in a shouting match or ugly behavior, practice being peaceful within yourself.
Maybe your health is the source of your drama and stress. Maybe you have a chronic condition, a disease, or even just a terrible cold. Are you dwelling on that? Are you telling everyone you encounter about your ailments, or constantly putting it on Facebook. I am in no way saying don’t ask for support or prayers. But I am asking if you are using it to feed your stress and drama? What feelings are you trying to invoke in yourself are they positive or negative?
You have the ability to choose how you feel in any situation, you have the ability to react intentionally instead of on auto-pilot and by becoming conscious of reacting positively you can overcome the drama monster and all the negativity that it brings into your life.
Drama is a powerful drug, negativity can become an addiction that we keep seeking and bringing into our lives to feed that monster. But with simple conscious changes, you can transform, come out of that addiction, and become someone in control of your emotions living a life filled with positivity!