It can be good to check in, now and again: when it comes to your self-help, is it possible that profound shifts could come from simple answers, and you’re over-complicating it? In other words, are you choosing drama?
Most of the time around these parts, I’m nudging you to look deeply at things that are complex, nuanced, and complicated, because most of the time, people want to avoid doing that work. I want to support you in doing that work. It’s tough stuff, and I’ve got a lot of empathy for the process.
But this time, I’m just plunking this question down here that’s worth considering: are you choosing drama?
What it looks like when you are choosing drama
When we’re choosing drama—and seriously, I have been in all of these scenarios, so no judgment—we dismiss simple actions that are straightforward and that could reap big rewards, getting us where we want to go, sooner.
It looks like being angry at a friend, and instead of just talking to her…piling up resentments, and sabotaging the friendship from the inside, out.
It looks like being more comfortable handling feelings of depression by going to therapy to talk about what mom or dad did twenty years ago, and…completely neglecting aspects of the here-and-now that could really help with feelings of depression, like getting regular sleep, drinking plenty of water, not being on screens all day, moving your body at least a little bit.
It looks like starting arguments with people, debating with them, over issues both big and trivial, instead of rolling up your sleeves and doing tangible things to create actual change in your life or in the lives of others.
Have the conversation. Give your body the basics like sleep and water. Take an action that you believe creates change, instead of arguing with someone over why change hasn’t happened or whose fault it is or who is right about the change that needs to take place.
Are these sometimes scary actions to take? For sure.
Yet they are, decidedly, simple actions in terms of what one needs to do to execute them. These actions are largely straightforward. Direct.
You could spend years dissecting every imaginable psychological experience of your suffering with someone, and true, that process will yield some important insights. I’m not knocking that approach to alleviating suffering, nor am I diminishing the very real help that talk therapy or coaching can offer, nor am I saying that you need to “get over it.”
I’m just suggesting that once in awhile, it can be powerful to ask ourselves if maybe the rumination has run its course and you don’t need to relive the old pain anymore in order to heal it, to ask ourselves if the old habits that worked for you at one point in your life perhaps don’t work for you anymore and it’s time to change a habit.
It’s worth a check-in once in awhile to ask ourselves if we are over-complicating things, unintentionally choosing drama through paths that don’t have a good ROI for the time and energy we are putting into them.
Why it Won’t Work
One of the biggest ways I’ve seen myself choose drama—so I really try to pay attention to this one—is when I spend more energy complaining or thinking about “why it won’t work” than actually trying out solutions.
An example: my daughter’s daycare had a policy that was driving me nuts. I was talking about what was driving me nuts with my friends who also had kids. At first, they laughed when I shared yet another anecdote of what we had collectively agreed was a ridiculous policy. They would suggest changing daycares, talking to the person in charge. I’d tell them all the reasons why that wouldn’t work.
In essence, I was complaining about something, people were offering solutions, then I was complaining again. And again.
I was choosing drama.
It’s easier to recognize this pattern when it’s someone else—your friend who won’t break up with that loser boyfriend, for instance, but she always complains about the latest player move he’s made that’s driving her crazy.
It’s harder to recognize it in ourselves, when we are choosing drama.
Maybe the Solutions Aren’t So Simple
If you really want to dissect something, dissect why you haven’t chosen the simplest and most straightforward of solutions. It will probably turn out that something’s up with that.
When I look at any time when I’ve started the online debate about something, complained without taking action towards a solution, ruminated and rehashed instead of drinking more water and taking a walk—all the while dismissing those possibilities as being “too simple”—I can see that I felt vulnerable and afraid.
When we feel vulnerable and afraid, there’s a higher likelihood that we will complicate things. We will push away answers, solutions, help that is offered, possibilities. We will vent our anger through arguing, instead of venting it out with breathing, getting away from the conflict, and centering in our hearts.
These are very human mistakes to make. Once you recognize where you’ve been choosing drama, please don’t choose more drama by beating up on yourself for choosing drama!
(See how that works?).
Instead, step into taking a deep breath. Take lots of them. Get some water. Get out into the sunshine. Take a walk. You don’t need to repent or atone for choosing drama.
All you need to do is the simplest and most straightforward action of all: choose to change course. Right here, right now, you can decide, “I’m dropping that thought” and if it comes up again, decide again. Right here, right now, you can decide, “I’m going to move my body for a bit, instead of argue with that person on Facebook.” Right here, right now, you can decide, “I’m going to take a concrete action in the direction of my dream,” rather than focus on all the reasons why it might not work out or could be very difficult.
That’s the least drama-free choice you could make, and it is yours for the choosing.