How To Stay Calm In The Face Of Drama
Updated February 05, 2020
Reviewer Ann-Marie Duncan
Some people avoid drama at all costs, and others thrive on it. Although people pretty much make their own drama based on their reactions, we can't always control the drama that others throw our way. If you have a friend, family member, or co-worker who is constantly bombarding you with new drama that you'd rather avoid, then you need to learn how to stay calm in the face of drama. Drama is fed by intense emotion. Starve the dramatic individual of an expected emotional response and you can put out the fire, or at the very least reduce your chances of getting burned.
How to be Calm
When someone is being dramatic, it is a natural response to express some kind of staunch opinion about the situation. But take a step back for a moment and ask yourself if the situation is important or even relevant to you. Dissociate yourself from it. Rather than getting worked up and taking a side, act like an disinterested observer, which you may actually be, depending on who is stirring up drama.
You can practice this habit with meditation. When you meditate, you view the world as an observer only. You sit and use your senses to perceive what is going on around you. If you can take a breath and look at what is actually going on, you can curb an emotional response.
When you dissociate from the emotional aspect of the situation, you can attempt to approach it with your logical mind instead. Ask yourself what the facts of the situation. Don't focus on the emotional tone the other person is using. Instead concentrate just on the words and what they actually mean. Breathe in and recognize where the drama is, and breathe out to let it go, like you do with meditation.
Avoiding drama in the first place
You may not realize when you are actually provoking drama. Fortunately, once you recognize the behaviors that invite drama into your life, you can work on avoiding them. Here are a few behaviors to avoid in order stay away from drama:
- Giving advice when it wasn't asked for. Even if someone is venting to you, if they are not specifically asking for help, you should really consider not getting involved.
- Being nosey. Of course if you go looking for drama you're going to find it. Don't worry about what other people are doing.
- Not being honest. Lies almost always are discovered eventually. Live true to yourself so you don't need to lie. If you're worried about hurting someone, that's usually the time when you need to do the hard part of telling the truth, because if that lie comes out you're going to have a ton of drama. Think about it. You can prepare yourself to talk calmly about a thing, or you can wait until the other person finds out on their own and explodes when you aren't prepared. Which is truly easier?
- Avoiding saying no. If you don't want to do something with or for someone, just tell them. They may be annoyed, upset, or frustrated, but you'll get a lot less drama than if you say yes and fail to deliver on that confirmation. If someone is asking you to do something that will drag you into their drama, like helping them spy on their significant other, it's usually best to just say no.
Let's create some standard responses that you can say to someone to keep the drama at bay. First, let's look at not offering advice. Suppose your best friend comes crying to you that her boyfriend is cheating on her. She's upset, angry, hurt and crying. It's understandable that you want to support her, to acknowledge her pain and be there for her. You also know that this could come back to you like more drama if you condemn him and they make up later. Some options for your conversation could be as follows: "Oh, you must be terribly upset." "I'm sad this has happened to you." "This is a tough situation for you, you must really feel hurt." Basically, you want to validate her emotions without escalating them. On the other hand, you could stir up more drama and emotional turmoil by asking nosey questions like, "How did you catch him?" "Who was he with?" " How long have you known?" These questions are digging for gossip and relishing in emotionally charged details.
Be honest in your interactions. If there is information that you don't want to share with someone, then you need to have a repertoire of comeback statements rather than telling a lie. Some examples might include: "I'm not ready to share that information yet." "While I appreciate your concern that is really between him and me." " I don't feel comfortable talking about this right now." Or sometimes you may need to be very blunt and say, "I am not going to have this discussion with you." Since lies are almost always uncovered eventually, you will decrease your chances of future drama by being honest in the present. Keep in mind that being honest doesn't always mean spilling the beans by telling everything you know. Even if you have facts that someone is asking about, a simple statement of, "I don't think to talk about it is going to help the situation," may be the wiser choice. Keep in mind, if you are the one telling the lie, it will not turn out well in the end. Live with dignity and self-respect.
It's ok to say no and not feel like you must give an explanation. Again, having some standard responses in your tool belt can help you move through uncomfortable situations quicker. Examples here might include: " No, that's not going to work in my schedule." "No, that's not something I would be interested in doing." "No thanks, I have other plans." Don't feel guilty for making healthy choices for yourself.
Some people thrive on drama and want to pull others into their highly charged world. These people can be tiresome and attempt to put you in awkward situations. Review those situations that key you up and make you feel stressed, then create a list of simple statements or actions that remove the fuel from their fire. Sometimes asking them,"what have you done in the past to deal with it" may be all that is needed to redirect from emotional to wise thinking. Focus on the kind and mindful behaviors, but don't confuse kindness with supporting their drama.
Most of the time our emotions are helpful, but when they drag us into situations that are better avoided, it's time to learn how to stay calm. Keep your straight face and don't let the emotions pull you in. A professional therapist can help you find balance when life gets all too dramatic.