How to take a step back from “The Drama” in your life to actually do what you want

As I am writing this, I can hear a family member on the phone in the background. She is sharing news about another family member’s sudden illness. It has plopped into the foreground of our lives these past few days, and it’s hard to do anything but think and talk about it.

My daily schedule has been derailed because I have fed into The Drama, and have sat on the sidelines of conversations. I’ve been speculating what will happen, how it will happen, and if it will happen. I am not a doctor, so I cannot do anything outside of visiting, and sending positive thoughts. But the public worrying seems to be an activity that is safe to participate in.

I have had many moments like this in my life. Sometimes it’s an illness, an unexpected death, or another crisis in the family that barrels through daily life, and becomes The Drama. Sometimes it’s something smaller-an argument between people I care about or another disruption.

But The Drama is not healthy or productive. Often times, The Drama is non-life threatening and is out of your control. You cannot control the actions or health of another family member or friend. While you can help in some ways, in other ways you cannot. How can anyone walk away from these moments that push onto centre-stage, and demand attention?

In short, you have to.

You have to identify how you are vulnerable. I cannot be in the same room as someone else who is feeding The Drama. Some people are natural ring-leaders, or family matriarchs, so they feed off and thrive in these moments of crisis. Depending on the case, there is only so much that I can do. At some point I am not helpful anymore, so I have to walk away. If I do not leave the room, I end up participating, and feel exhausted at the end of the day.

Another way to walk away from The Drama is to not disseminate any information yourself about what is happening, or to do so in a very limited way. This works best if you are on the periphery, or if you have little power over the situation.

It can be tempting to share information, theories, or give a blow by blow account of everything that is happening because you feel involved in The Drama. Things like this don’t happen everyday, and it can feel special to have people to listen to you or rely on you for information.

But the more you are involved, the more tradeoffs you will have to make. Feeding The Drama and sharing information is going to take the place of doing something that you care about, or want to do to unwind.

I urge you to look back over The Dramas and crises of the past.

When I look back, I just remember the basics — who, what, when, etc. Or, I might remember being really involved-but the involvement felt fruitless. What happened ended up happening. I could have just as easily opted out and saved some anxiety.

Try to detach yourself from events you don’t need to be attached to. See if it makes a difference.