How To Slay Your Inner Drama Queen
Life doesn’t have to be so hard.
Is your life crazier than a Kardashian’s? Do you feel compelled to share the ups and downs with anyone who’ll listen? And, honestly -- have you ever felt a little bit bored when it was actually going well for once?
Sure, life is dramatic for everyone sometimes, but some of us seem more likely to be at the centre of chaos than others. They might even appear to enjoy it, or to be fuelling the fire.
If you have what US researchers have dubbed a ‘high need for drama’, you may be prone to gossiping, feeling a lot of anger and seeing life as generally unfair to you. You might also be known as a bit of a ‘pot stirrer’ on social media or in real life, and jump to negative conclusions easily.
So where does it come from? Modern pop culture might be at least partly to blame. “The drama of reality TV and the scandals of famous people in the tabloids encourage us to think that drama is a positive thing,” notes psychologist Gemma Cribb.
But what’s really driving those OTT reactions is a whole lot of unmet emotional needs. As Cribb explains, when we have a lot of drama in our life (like growing up with a caregiver who was overly dramatic), we begin to see it as normal.
“We can also form habits of behaving in overly dramatic ways and continue to repeat these unhelpful patterns without conscious choice,” she says.
“The tendency to seek out drama is, in its essence, an unhelpful way of meeting your emotional needs. Where one person might say, ‘I’m feeling unimportant and I’d like more of your time and attention’, an overly dramatic person might act out and create a drama in order to get attention.”
The good news is, life doesn’t have to be so hard. If you want to slay your inner drama queen and leave the crazy to the Kardashians, there’s a few skills you can work on.
If your usual response to any setback, no matter how big or small, is a grade-A meltdown, it will help to learn how to calm yourself in intense moments. “Taking time out for 30 minutes and making an effort to distract yourself can help to calm you down,” suggests Cribb. “You can also ask yourself questions such as, ‘What are three alternative explanations for this situation or the other person’s behaviour?’ or, ‘In 10 years from now, will this still be as important?’”
Ask for what you need
At the root of those dramatic outbursts is an inability to express your emotional needs in a healthy way, so instead of picking a fight with your partner when you’re having a bad day, try to get to the bottom of what you’re really feeling. “Learn to speak directly to people about your feelings and your needs,” says Cribb, adding that it’s important to wait till the overwhelming emotion has passed.
Take a step back
Think about your life and the characters in it. Is someone consistently playing a dramatic role in your story? You might need to pull away for a little while. “Disengage from the people who are most likely to cause drama or respond in hurtful or unpredictable ways in your life,” suggests Cribb. “And reduce risky behaviours, including alcohol and drug use, which are likely to exacerbate your emotional reactivity.”
If the chaos in your life is mostly coming from someone else, try not to respond to their drama. “Give them a lot of positive attention when they’re calm, and particularly when they approach you in a helpful way about a need or feeling that they have,” says Cribb.
“Often, people who are highly emotional can’t be reasoned with in the heat of that emotion so taking some time out and telling them to call you to chat when they are calm can be useful.”
Feature image: Pinterest/@SloanMedders