Years ago, I created a slogan that captured the guiding rules for how I run my company - "Work
Hard, Have Fun, No Drama." Although it was originally developed as a business tool, I quickly adopted it for my personal life, too. Last week, however, I broke rule #3 – No Drama.
About a month ago we received a piece of equipment for our new home that arrived
damaged. After careful inspection, Michael and I decided to refuse the shipment and have it sent
back to the company. Once the truck left, I called and asked to have a credit issued on my charge card. I was told it would be taken care of right away. One month later I discovered that the credit was never issued.
When I called the company to inquire about the charge, I learned that the equipment was still
sitting at the warehouse near my home. I was transferred to the president who offered us a discount to have the item repaired so he wouldn't have to incur the cost of shipping it back to his
warehouse. Empathizing with his dilemma, I agreed to have someone sent to the warehouse to assess the damage. That's when the drama began.
What I thought was a simple solution (we were told the repairs would be easy), turned into
multiple, daily phone calls, way too much paperwork, and dealing with an owner of a company who didn't take responsibility for his lack of follow-through. After two weeks of feeling hassled, I realized that my frustration stemmed not from the problems, as much as from ignoring my rule of "No Drama." In spite of how poorly the company was handling the situation, my desire to help out the president was now costing me precious time and energy.
We all get caught up in drama at one time or another. It comes in many forms. You might be
struggling with in-fighting between family members, roped into a legal hassle with someone who mistakenly sees the proliferation of paperwork as progress, or embroiled in a nasty divorce that keeps everyone living on the edge. Sometimes the drama occurs in our minds – obsessing over something we did in the past, worrying about whether or not we'll get an outcome we desire, or overthinking a problem to death.
You know you're caught up in drama when you feel a sense of ongoing, emotional entanglement in a situation – a circumstance that seems to take over your life. While there are some events that
will take time to get resolved, that doesn't mean that you have to suffer. If drama is on your plate, here are three things you can do:
1. Stop talking about it. Don't gossip with others, don't debate the situation to death, and
don't allow others to bait you with inquiries about what's going on either. Talking about the
details over and over again gives more energy to the problem rather than the solution.
2. Identify the button pushers. Oftentimes drama is fueled by unresolved past issues that get stirred up by present-day problems. If you feel like a five-year-old every time you find yourself in the company of your ex, for example, chances are he or she is retriggering a situation from your past where you may have felt powerless or afraid. These are therapy issues that can be worked through with the support of an experienced counselor. If you can't afford that kind of help right now, check out John Lee‚s paperback book,"Growing Yourself Back Up," for great advice and direction.
3. Visualize a successful outcome for all those involved. Put energy into the solution by creating some kind of visualization (and verbal affirmation) that you can turn to when you feel frustrated, anxious, or fed up. Think of an image that helps you to feel cared for, powerful, and calm. One friend of mine used the image of a wise and loving grandmother as she went through her painful divorce. Each time she needed to take some kind of action, she followed it up by placing herself and the problem in the lap of this grandmother (in her mind's eye) while quietly repeating to herself, "I see this situation resolved for the highest good of everyone involved."
There's an old saying that you can't have a war when one side doesn't show up. Be that side. Do what you have to to address the situation and then walk away from the drama. Not only do you give yourself (and the problem) the greatest chance for a successful outcome, more important,
you protect your peace of mind – the most valuable gain of all.
Take Action Challenge
Ready to leave the drama behind? Create a sign that says: Drama Free Zone, and keep it nearby
to remind you to practice one or more of the suggestions above. Let's bring a little peace to the problem, shall we?