After an upsetting conversation, do you ever look back and say to yourself, “I wish I hadn’t said that?” Or maybe you regret taking charge of a situation when it really wasn’t your place to intervene. Later you wish you had thought before you made suggestions or took charge.
We all do this at times and, yet, without building your capacity to resist such reactive, drama-fueling habits, you will reduce your contribution in the world. Instead of using your time and energy to cultivate your unique gifts, you will diminish your effectiveness in being of service to yourself and others.
In a recent TED* workshop we were asked this question: “What are some ways I can build my capacity to resist my drama?”
We appreciated the question and have thought more about what we have learned about building our own capacity to resist drama—and we have had plenty over the years as a married couple, working together 24/7.
For us, the first step has been to gain insight into what triggers the reactivity in the first place. The Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ provides a model to help look at the three primary human reactive strategies to survive and manage our fears. In short they are:
1. As Victim, we fear our own powerlessness and may use avoidance by not taking responsibility for what is ours to do;
2. As Persecutor, we fear uncertainty and use control and domination to manage the perceived chaos we feel; and
3. As Rescuer, we fear not being needed or liked, so we err on the side of pleasing and connecting to keep the other happy so as not to be rejected.
There is always a mix of these different ways of managing our anxiety in the moment. One time you might avoid a situation; another time you may be competitive or aggressive; and in other situations, you may be emotional and want to please. When these are your only “go to strategies,” you have limited access to other ways to manage your behavior in any given situation.
This is where TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™ can help build your capacity to develop other ways to manage your response to drama.
Here are a few suggestions we have tried:
1. Be a Creator and take the first step. Honestly, most people want other people to change first. If we are all waiting on the other, nothing will change.
2. Focus on just one new behavior at a time and make it pretty small and doable (i.e. a Baby Step). Your habits have developed over decades and trying to change too much, too fast can cause more self-criticism and personal drama.
3. Try anything that promotes self-observation in the moment. We have a friend who visualizes hovering over herself like a helicopter, getting distance so she can observe herself with more perspective.
By pausing, observing yourself in the moment, making the choice for change and focusing on a new behavior, you will build your capacity to respond – rather than react – to drama when it occurs.