We all know the people whose lives are the stage for constant drama. They live from crisis to crisis; every conflict, or roadblock is fodder for their personal soap opera. Once one catastrophe ends, they are quickly immersed in another.
We are all subject to it. You have some kind of stressful event happen, a bad break-up, a conflict with a co-worker. You get on the phone with friends, constantly rehashing and analyzing the situation, working yourself into a froth. Exhausting one audience, you begin again with someone else, expounding, complaining, discussing. We’ve all been through it.
This pattern becomes exhausting, yet you can’t seem to quit scrutinizing and analyzing the situation, working yourself into a tizzy over and over again.
So why do people put themselves through this, even to the extent of making a lifestyle out of it?
First of all, there is the physiological response to personal drama. Imagine yourself in a state of distress. Pick something recent and loaded with emotional charge. When you experience crisis, you body responds by going into the fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline begins to be pumped into your body; your respiration changes and the amount of oxygen being sent through your body and into your brain increases. Your feel your heart beat faster, pumping that oxygen-laden blood throughout the body. Without you being aware of it, glucose and other nutrients are liberated for immediate use by the body and brain. You have an enormous amount of energy. You have greater mental acuity and decisiveness and increased pain tolerance. The pupils dilate, and vision changes to a tunnel-like view, removing everything from the periphery. Your focus on you situation becomes exaggerated. It’s all very exciting and you feel powerful, or at least jacked up.
Then the crash comes. The sugar levels in your body drop. Your respiration and heart rate and perceptions return to normal, and you are exhausted from your hyped up metabolic state. Without any awareness that it’s happening, you begin to crave a return to your previous, pumped-up condition. So what do you do? Create more drama.
This, my friend, is a recipe for addiction. It’s one as physically and emotionally complex as a pharmaceutical.
As harmless as it seems, just like any other addiction, becoming a drama addict takes its toll. It is physically depleting, can cause issues such as constipation due to the fact that the fight-or-flight reaction shuts down the digestive process, and suppresses the immune system.
You are exhausting to be around, constantly conscripting other people into witnessing and feeding your story. Maintaining your addiction becomes your priority, distracting you from important things, taking you out of the present, and clouding your thinking.
The resolution is as simple as “Just Saying No” to full-crisis living. Saying no to being a user, saying no to being an enabler.
The first step is noticing when you work yourself into an adrenaline-fueled state. Are you talking yourself into a charged emotional state? Do you embroider the situation in your mind to make it more offensive/irritating/shocking? Pay attention to the times when you feel yourself physically changing and responding to your thoughts. The mere act of noticing and observing the event changes it. Go ahead and give yourself permission to be simply in this place of observation, and the rest will unfold from there.
What about “pushers” or enablers? Those people who bring drama into your life, unbidden? Of course, when we take care of ourselves in a way that is both respectful to ourselves and compassionate towards others, it becomes a win-win situation for everyone.
Creating a feedback loop of this kind of crisis energy is a very easy thing to do; all you have to do is allow yourself to be caught in the urgency, to feel the tickle of that adrenaline rush and jump on. Indulging in that state of excitement and urgency only feeds that state in another, until the two of you are over the top.
Resisting that urge, coming back to the present in a mindful state, allows the energy to dissipate, calming each other, and becoming a healing presence.