My life is so hard right now… So-and-so did this… I’m so worried about that… I’m so busy… I’m overwhelmed… I’m so tired… I’m so…. fill in the blank…”
Does this sound familiar? Do you identify with the drama in your life and consider it normal? Be honest. Chances are that you’ve recently uttered one or more of those phrases, or something similar.
Drama belongs in the theater
The drama played out repeatedly in our daily lives gives us a sense of who we are. Many of us believe that it is a fact of life, when the truth is, it is not even real. Drama is an illusionary state of being based on our perceptions, which have been shaped over time by our past experiences. It appears real only because we choose to believe it. Drama becomes our reality as a result of what we bring – often unconsciously – to each situation.
How does drama manifest in your life?
Every time you proclaim with exasperation how busy you are, you say to the world, to yourself, and to whomever is listening that you are important. Important people are always busy, right? It is a way of saying that someone is depending on you. It is a way of saying that you matter.
But what message are you really sending? You may inadvertently be communicating that you think you are more important than the person you are talking to. What happens when someone tells you, in that same exasperated way, that he or she is so busy? Very likely it raises some questions. Why is he so busy? Is she doing something more important than I am? Should I be busier? It may also make you feel disconnected from that person: He or she is busy and therefore has no time for me.
Perhaps your drama involves always having a set of problems to handle. Are you a people pleaser – always needing to fix things for others, but unable to give yourself time and attention? When we do this, we think we are being generous and that it will make people like us, but it is exhausting and in the grand scheme doesn’t help anyone. Further, it creates a misconception that accepting help is weakness. People who are constantly giving often have trouble asking for and accepting assistance when they need it themselves.
Or perhaps your drama takes the form of neediness. Have you abdicated responsibility for yourself to others by allowing or expecting them to do things for you? People who do this also make themselves the most important beings in the room by forcing others to take care of them. Has your drama created a negative role that you must now perpetuate?
Drama looks different for different people, but the result of allowing it to rule our lives is the same. We’ve created an unproductive cycle of needing to outdo ourselves and each other. We’re convinced that it makes us better people, but it actually leaves us worn out emotionally and physically.
Saying that we are busy, that we have problems to deal with, or that we can’t do something, may make us feel better initially because it takes responsibility off of us. It lets us off the hook, at least temporarily, by giving us a circumstance or person to blame. Unfortunately, it only attracts more drama (more busy-ness, more problems, more neediness).
The illusion of drama is not in the fact that things aren’t actually happening. It is in our perception of those events. How much space in our lives is filled with things that, upon closer examination, are really unimportant? How much do we fill our days with static and noise?
No sustainable inner peace can reside alongside constant drama. Drama has become what we say and do, shaping our reactions to and interactions with others—often inappropriately. Because we carry our past with us, drama becomes a form of protection. Without drama, what do we have? We are left with our feelings of loneliness, scarcity and lack, with grievances and long-held resentments, or with a sense of missing out on life. We are left with fear. As a consequence, we believe we are subject to the whims of life, rather than the creator of life.
Without drama, however, we can be left with peace.
What would you prefer—the drama that brings you confusion, feelings of loneliness and separation from self and others? Or would you prefer to free yourself from your many reactions and feelings of struggle? Would you prefer to find the peace of mind that will lead you to sustainable love and peace in your life?
Changing this pattern and teaching ourselves peace can be done through the simple practice of awareness of our observable behaviors. We can train ourselves to desire peace of mind rather than the unease we have come to accept as a normal condition of life.
Think of drama as a physical sign we can stop with a moment’s attention to it. Through our awareness we come to recognize that we have the choice to change our behavior and in that change begin to find peace of mind. In doing so, peace will ultimately replace the drama that is the cause our unease.
The choice is ours alone to make. The right choice will ultimately put an end to those feelings that cause us emotional pain!