Drama: Most people claim to avoid it, yet so many of us unknowingly create it in our own lives and in those of others.
Turning small issues into full-blown sources of drama is a talent possessed by many, and not one that helps much in reducing daily stress (quite the opposite). After much reflection upon the sources of drama in my own life, I crafted these 6 tips that I plan to use (to the best of my abilities) in order to make my life as drama-free as possible.
1. Be honest with others about what is bothering you.
When something or someone is bothering us, we tend to keep our emotions bottled up until so much stress, anger, and anxiety has accumulated that we can’t help but explode. We may start an unnecessary argument with someone about something insignificant, or we might blow a problem out of proportion. Having had different roommates throughout college, I for one have had a lot of experience with avoidable drama. My roommates and I would get into huge fights over small things like dirty dishes left in the sink or snoring boyfriends; fights that could have been easily avoided if we were honest about our concerns to begin with.
Next time you become frustrated with one of your friends, roommates, or colleagues, just be honest from the beginning about what is bothering you. Being transparent about your issues will allow you to avoid bottling up negative emotions that lead to unnecessary arguments. If people do not know what is bothering you, you cannot blame them for keeping up the same habits.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the small annoyances of everyday life, but there’s no reason that you should let a spilled morning coffee or commuter traffic ruin the rest of your day. As a longtime planner, I used to struggle with getting frustrated if certain details of my day did not go as I had initially planned. This was a big source of unnecessary drama in my life. But as I grew older and was thrust into my first personal training job at Equinox, where your daily schedule can change in a second due to a client cancellation or rescheduling, I had to adapt to days that were virtually impossible to plan.
At first I found this very hard, but eventually, I realized that by letting go of my excessive need to follow a detailed daily schedule to a T, I was also letting go of the unnecessary pressure that I was putting on myself to lead the “perfect” day (an impossible task to accomplish). Nowadays, I still have a daily schedule that I try to stick with, but when life has other plans (and it usually does) I move forward and adapt to a new schedule knowing that I will do what needs to get done, even if my day may not look like the ideal one that I had anticipated. No longer am I letting a missed train or forgotten gym bag be a constant source of drama in my life, and I am a lot happier because of it.
3. Think about the big picture.
When you’re struggling to deal with drama in your life, take a moment to look at the cause (or causes) of drama in an objective way: does this problem or situation really warrant so much concern? Instead of getting wrapped up in the drama of a situation, can you look for a solution? If the situations, problems, or people in your life that cause the most drama can be avoided or fixed, then focus on getting rid of them. If instead, you cannot avoid the people or things that cause drama in your life, find a way to live with them and try to put a positive spin on the situation. If, for example, a big source of drama in your life is an overbearing parental figure who is constantly worried about your safety, instead of complaining about “constant nagging and phone calls” focus on the fact that you are very lucky to have parents who love you enough to care so much about you. As humans, we tend to gravitate towards thinking about things solely from our own perspective, so it is definitely beneficial to take a step back and look at our problems from the perspective of an unbiased outsider: are our problems and concern really as dramatic as we perceive them to be? In many cases, the sources of drama in our life are less of a big deal than we make them out to be and probably won’t matter much in the long run.
4. Identify toxic relationships and rid yourself of them.
For many of us, a big source of drama in our life is connected to our relationships with other human beings. As inherently social beings, we crave human connection; therefore it is not a surprise that we put a lot of emphasis on our interactions with other people. When dealing with the people that we love (i.e. friends, family, and partners) it is very hard to identify when a relationship has taken a turn for the worse into the “unhealthy” territory. But the maintenance of unhealthy relationships is a major source of drama in many of our lives. The good news is that unless you are dealing with a parent and you are still under the age of 18, this type of drama is avoidable. Realizing which relationships in your life have become toxic is a skill that is very important to learn when cultivating happiness. Here are a three signs to help you identify an unhealthy relationship:
1. This person constantly relies on you to fix his/her problems but offers no support in return.
2. This person only reaches out to you to ask for favors or when it directly benefits him/her, but seems to disappear at all other times.
3. When you are around this person you tend to feel worse about yourself because of the things that he/she says.
If a relationship that you have with a friend or SO meets any of these criteria, run for the hills! These types of relationships are not worth the upkeep and will only damage your well-being.
5. Try to care a lot less about the opinion of others.
I know-easier said than done. But caring about others’ opinions is something that we can all afford to do less of. We only have so much energy to spend in a given day, and using it all to stress about what others think of us is a big waste of time. We will never be able to meet everyone else’s expectations or to make everyone happy while also maintaining our own happiness, so there is no point in trying. Don’t let discovering that someone doesn’t like you or trust in your abilities cause drama in your life; you are better off focusing on meeting your own expectations. At the end of the day, you are your own best friend and it’s time that you start treating yourself like one.
6. Before starting or fueling an argument with others, think: Is it worth it?
Unnecessary arguments are a constant source of drama for many of us. Before engaging in an argument, you should think about whether there is a more amicable way to solve your disagreement. Feuds that could have been easily avoided through a simple conversation cause stress in the individuals involved and impact our happiness. These devastating effects are not worth the fleeting high that we get when proving someone wrong during an argument. This tip is very important for someone like me who has a hard time dealing with my irritation towards others in a calm way. If I am frustrated with friends, I tend to confront them right away when my emotions are still at an all-time high without thinking logically about what I’m going to say. This often results in me approaching a conversation in an overly agitated manner that can rub people the wrong way and start arguments. Nowadays, whenever I am angry or frustrated with someone, I try to take a moment and ask myself the following questions before confronting them: Is my frustration warranted? Will confronting this person help resolve my conflict with them? If my answer to both of these questions in “No,” then I will know that starting an argument is not worth the outcome.
Drama is fun to watch on TV, but it definitely isn’t fun when it affects you in your real life. My hope is that these 6 tips will help you identify the biggest causes of drama in your own life, and help you figure out which ones you can eliminate for good. The result will be a happier you who can focus on the important things in life that will lead you to success.