Downplay the Drama

When something out of the ordinary happens in our lives, we have the choice of how to react. Sometimes, what has happened really surprises us, but often it doesn’t. Once we are over the initial shock, we can more carefully choose our reaction to the events, decide how we want to think and talk about it.

Part of choosing our reaction to an incident — or something that might become a skeleton in the closet — is deciding whether to increase the drama of the situation or not. I think you know what “increasing the drama” means. It means making the story more exciting, and describing the people in extremes — as villains, idiots, or heroes. Dramatizations are always given in a conspiratorial tone, in hushed, animated voices around the water cooler, so to speak.

What does telling a story with extra drama do? Why is increasing the drama a bad idea? When we add drama to a story, we increase the hardships, make struggles more difficult and problems insurmountable. Injustice reigns in big drama. Without realizing it, we are emphasizing how life is hard, things never go smoothly, and people mistreat each other. There is often a strong, imbalanced morality overlaid on the story. Living in this vibration makes us feel frustrated, critical, angry, and judgmental.

When we choose to downplay the drama as we relive the events, we reduce the struggles and judge people less harshly. Our overall tone is “it wasn’t that bad” or “it was a little mess up” rather than the overexaggerated, dramatized version. We tend to feel that things are looking up, people around us are competent, and problems beatable.

How to do it

So how can you learn to reduce the drama of a situation? Here are some things to think about.

– Stick to the facts. When telling the story of what happened, keep it straight-up boring.

– Become aware of what words you choose when you tell the story of what happened. Think of it as a story that can be told in many different ways.

– Catch yourself before you start to talk in black-and-white.

– Don’t vilify (“villainize”) people. Sure, they made a mistake, but it isn’t about their core character.

– If you enjoy dramatizing, do so with something funny or helpful rather than a bad event. Be a stand-up comedian, not a bad-news reporter.

– There is a balance between doing things in the big-city anonymous way and the small-town gossipy way. Look for that balance.

In a non-judgmental way, watch how other people tell stories. Can you see them getting dramatic and adding to their own frustration? Now see that property in yourself, laugh about it, and curb it before it gets out of hand!

Don’t be Like a Fly

I was cleaning windows today when I came to the one in the porch. This one is out of the way, so it rarely gets looked at or tidied up. The window sill was littered with dead flies, and there was a live one bouncing incessantly, they way they always do, against the glass.

Why do flies do this? I tried to shoo this one away, because I was going to be spraying glass cleaner and it would die if it got sprayed. That fly just wouldn’t be shooed — it was intent on bouncing its head up against the glass over and over again, trying to break through the barrier — invisible but unbreakable (for a fly).

So, I sprayed around it, but the vapours made it woozy and it flew strangely. Eventually, it flew away, and maybe once it turned around, it even saw the open door and flew outside to freedom. This whole experience made me wonder — how are we like the fly, bouncing our heads against a barrier we can’t get through?

Do you have anything in your life that you’ve been struggling with for a long time? Like a fly trying to fly through a window, you think there should be a way through. You can see the light and just can’t figure out how to get to it. You try and try, over and over, but you’re just acting like a fly.

If this is striking a chord in you, don’t ignore it. What is coming to mind right now? Don’t shy away from it — it doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means you’re human. Sit for a minute and think about whatever is coming to you.

So what can you do? If you keep bouncing up against that glass, you might end up like all those other flies — dead on the window sill. I’m not just talking about being physically dead, but emotionally or spiritually dead. It could also be a death of your freedom, creativity, joy, happiness or health. What are you afraid might be dying?

If you don’t want this to happen, just turn around. Stop trying, stop bouncing against the problem and look the other way. Look for the open door. Look at what is lovely and beautiful about your life, about the world, about you. Stop focusing on problems, either in you or in the world around you, and trying to fix them. If you just fly away from them, you’ll find another way to the light, to the great outdoors, and never have to worry about another window again.

There’s a common expression that goes something like “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” I would say “when the window is closed, look for the open door!”