5 Ways to Dial Down the Drama: Studio 5
Most all of us have experienced drama at one time or another. Maybe it’s with a gossipy co-worker, an overbearing family member, or a nosy friend. But how do you know if you yourself are the one being overly dramatic? Self-awareness is key, but the problem is that most people who really struggle with this are entirely oblivious to the fact. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether or not you’re a drama queen (as well as some tips to help you not let drama get the better of you):
1. Do I lash out with others when I’m not included?
In my clinical practice, I’ve often seen this manifest in relationships with in-laws. For example, a woman I worked with was upset when her mother-in-law had a fun outing with others in the family but didn’t include her. If this kind of situation happens to you, how would you handle it? Some might take extreme offense, harbor great resentment, become overly dramatic, and lash out. Others may stay silent and conceal that it was painful to be excluded. But I challenge my readers to assume positive intent and then simply ask for what you want. It’s okay to say something like, “That was probably a fun thing you all did. It hurt me a little to not be invited. I’d love to be included next time around.”
–> Avoid the drama by being direct and assertive and not lashing out or gossiping.
2. Do I say things in the moment that I later regret?
Sometimes we get very passionate and say things in a heated situation that we wish we hadn’t. For example, my husband and I often interrupt each other in our conversations. If this were to happen in a social situation, I might be tempted to become dramatic and call him out in the moment by saying “How dare you interrupt me again?!” If you find yourself in a similar setting, it’s better to press the emotional pause button and wait until you’ve been able to calm down a bit before addressing the problem. Maybe you need to wait 30 minutes, or maybe you even need 24 hours.
–> Either way, ditch the drama by thinking carefully before you speak and not saying something you might regret.
3. Do I have a need to be the center of attention in every setting?
This one’s a little tricky, because if this describes you, you likely don’t even know it! Consider whether or not you get uncomfortable or jealous when others get recognition or attention. For example, let’s say in a work situation someone else comes up with a great idea. If you find yourself wishing that you had thought it up or wanting the credit, you might struggle with being a drama queen!
–> Remember that it’s okay for others to share the spotlight, too.
4. Do I often talk about others when they aren’t present?
This is a huge red flag that signals someone is being dramatic. How often have we been in the break room and heard someone gossiping about another person, then being friendly again when he/she sees that person again? A good rule of thumb is that if a person is not present, do not say anything negative or critical about him/her. Backbiting doesn’t solve anything and only breeds more drama.
–> If you really must address a problem with someone, once again go to the direct source.
5. Do I feel more alive when I’m involved in conflict?
As human beings, we all need some sort of cause, or something to care about. Reflect on whether or not your cause is conflict. Do you feel more energized or more important when you stir the pot or rile up others? Even though we may be adults, we all have inner teenagers. Of course we can grow and mature, but when our insecurities are heightened, we may lose our cool and resort to being dramatic. We all overreact at times and respond in ways that do not reflect our best selves. The truth is that people who repeatedly act dramatically or seem to thrive on gossip are often deeply insecure.
–> If you feel most alive when there’s drama, consider what vulnerable emotion is at the root of it all.
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Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available.