"Drama doesn't just walk into our life. We either invite it, create it, or keep it alive by associating with it."
~ Adapted from Brooke Hampton

“Drama doesn’t just walk into our life. We either invite it, create it, or keep it alive by associating with it.” ~ Adapted from Brooke Hampton

The Neuroscience of Drama

As a speaker and seminar leader, I always start with asking people about their perspective on “the problem” or what annoys them, stresses them, or gets under their skin. Consistently, one of the responses is drama. So, if everyone seems to find this issue so problematic, then why is it so common? I’ll bet because most of us see drama as something caused by someone else, which puts us in the position of trying to convince the “dramatic person” to change. Unfortunately, that often just creates more drama, and we find ourselves caught in a cycle with this person that can interfere with our peace of mind and the ability to create the experience of life we want.

Therefore, when I ran across this quote from Brooke Hampton, I immediately marked it as one to include in our weekly “Quotes and Comments” connection. I have altered it slightly, but I believe the essence of the idea remains intact. It says:

“Drama doesn’t just walk into our life. We either invite it, create it, or keep it alive by associating with it.” – Adapted from Brooke Hampton
Now, to be clear, in agreeing with Brooke Hampton, I’m not implying that drama is “our fault.” I just like to look at life’s issues in a way that gives us some influence in the experience. And, if it is true that we have some role in the problem, this also gives us a way to have some influence in creating a solution. So, let’s look at each aspect of the quote to see how we might want to become more influential.

Of course, I’m sure that none of us would describe ourselves as someone who invites drama. However, if you consistently find yourself on the receiving end of other’s drama, then you may be sending signals that this is something you want to hear. This also may be the result of you wanting to be supportive to others, and if this is working for you, I wouldn’t give it another thought. However, if you find yourself feeling worse after hearing about another’s problems, then you might want to rethink how receptive you want to be in the future. This change doesn’t require you to tell others to stop bringing you their drama, however, it may require you to begin to deflect it when it arrives. More on how to do this a bit later.

I’m also sure that we don’t think of ourselves as people who create drama. We are not troublemakers, gossipers, or “pot stirrers.” That being said, we may want to become more aware of the type of information we share with people. If we are consistently sharing negative information about ourselves or others, we may be creating drama without even knowing it. If this is the case, making more purposeful choices about whether our sharing with others is mostly positive or negative would be a good idea.
It is this third aspect of Brooke Hampton’s quote, the tendency to keep drama alive by associating with it, that may be more common and harder to recognize. Again, this could be seen as being sympathetic to others, and when we and they feel better after sharing what is going on in our lives, then this isn’t a problem. However, if either we or they feel worse after sharing, then we may be unwittingly keeping the drama alive by giving it a place to come and stay. If this is the case, we can begin to change this dynamic by simply shifting to the positive when someone tells us something negative that we really don’t want to hear.

For example, if someone comes to us complaining about someone else, we could say something like: “Yes, I can see how you would see them that way, and, I have also noticed how good they are with their kids.” If we do this enough, they will soon get the message that we are no longer going to become the petri dish for their drama, and will either go with us to the more positive perspective, or stop coming to us with all that negativity.
Again, I want to emphasize that this is not about us turning a cold shoulder to those in despair. It’s about ensuring that our response is one that is helpful, kind and up lifting. In this way, we take responsibility for our part of the interaction, and set up more purposeful expectations about the sorts of interactions we are open to in the future… and after all, wouldn’t this be a gift to all concerned?

~ All the best, Dr. Bill