The Drama Free Zone (D.F.Z.)

me_428_dramaI talk a lot about the D.F.Z. (Drama Free Zone) and about how I live there. But let me define more clearly what that actually means. Because the truth is, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, someone, somehow will manage to bring some drama into your life. You may  even be the culprit supplying your own drama.  So the concept of living entirely “drama free” may be unattainable…that is unless you can manage to isolate yourself from every other living soul on the planet.

Drama – A situation or succession of events in real life having the dramatic progression of one emotional upheaval after another; often further characterized by negative issues abounding; usually brought on AND accompanied by excessive, over-the-top emotional responses and unnecessary energy. Drama is the tendency to take the simplest circumstances and blow those circumstances out of all actual proportions; accenting the negative, while either deliberately or ignorantly dismissing any positive. Killing an ant with a bazooka. Drawing the most devastating conclusions first…thinking a situation through to a peaceful and conducive conclusion last…if at all. Resultantly, drama is often dragging along its first cousins, chaos, anger and confusion; and its second- cousins self-pity, defensiveness, and blame.

Since we are apparently living in an age when drama, as described above, is glorified and celebrated, it seems that there is a whole subculture of folks who absolutely thrive on it. Some people think that drama is a necessity, the normal course of life. They believe that they are “supposed” to have drama. And if someone else doesn’t introduce drama into their lives, they will inevitably drum up some drama themselves. It’s no wonder. With reality television shows like Bad Girls, Real Housewives of (PICK A CITY), any genre of WW(PICK AN ACRONYM) Wrestling; Judge Judy, Divorce Court, etc., and a host of other garbage, insanely dubbed “entertainment” it’s not surprising that the acceptance of drama is widespread. I’ve actually spoken with young people who believe that if they’re not having some difficulty in their romantic relationships that something is wrong. I mean suspicious, jealous, resentful arguing tooth- and- nail kind of’ difficulty.

You take the low road, and I’ll take the high road.
Okay…so getting into and staying in the Drama Free Zone is about avoiding all of the above… and all those who bring any of the above with them.  How? Well, it’s all about me. Sounds selfish I know, but hear me out. It’s really all about my reaction to what’s going on around me. The only real control I have to situations that unfold around me is my reaction. My responsibility; (my ability to determine and control my response) is under my own power. You’ve heard of “taking the high road”? Well, if you want to live in the D.F.Z. you have to travel on the high road continually. It takes some concentrated effort at first and while it gets easier, it still is one of those things that can slip if you’re not diligent about it.

You cannot be a person who takes offense at the drop of a hat; a slip of the tongue or even the occasional deliberate infraction against you. Not saying that you cannot correct someone who crosses the line of your sensibility or seriously does you harm.  You’ll have to practice assuming the best, not the worst about a person.   First, try considering that if someone has offended you, it was out of ignorance and not deliberate.  You can either chose to forget it or calmly address it.   I chose to forget it unless it happens again and again.   If you come to the conclusion that someone is actually a bad person who meant harm, then they become one of those who has to be eliminated from your company and interaction. This should come only after you have given a person every opportunity to behave more kindly; and to, perhaps, join you on the high road.

What kind of person am I?
What do you think of yourself? Have you been in the middle of chaos and hubbub for so long that you believe you don’t deserve anything better? Have you been in the midst of drama for so long that you are used to it and wouldn’t know how to function in the absence of it? How about starting to think of yourself as a person who at all costs seeks peace? That may bring in the possibility of sacrificing having your way all the time. You can have your say, but sometimes not your way. You should let people know how you feel about situations if it directly concerns you.  If it’s someone else’s issue, allow yourself to “butt out.”

I’m not talking about “giving someone a piece of your mind.” (Just think about that phrase anyway – “giving someone a piece of your mind. Often you’re actually not only giving someone a “piece of your mind” you’re giving them the peace of your mind.) I mean, rather, that you should let a person how one thing or another that they do makes you feel so that they can be aware if that something bothers you in some way.  Assume that person doesn’t mean to offend you, but that they may have done it inadvertently. So help them out. Tell them, and then move (move-on-dot-com). Move means to be done with it totally. Let it go. Try to forget it. The horse is dead, stop beating it. It’s like the magnet I have on my refrigerator which reads “Let Go or Be Dragged.”

Think of yourself as being above the mayhem, even when the mayhem comes directly to your home. This can be hard, but there may be times when you have to walk away from an argument. Most times people who are arguing just want to be heard. There are those that, during an argument, insist you agree with them and try to force you to concede to their point. That’s bullying, not communication. One way to remedy that is to quietly let them know that you “hear” what they’re saying, but you simply do not agree with them. Repeat to them what you think they’re trying to say with words such as, “Okay, let me tell you what I hear you saying.” You may even say that you’ll think about what they’re saying, but for now, you have your own take on it. This can usually quell a ferocious person. If not, oh well. Stop participating.  Until they can discuss an issue without the raised blood levels, it’s just too much drama.

It’s not that I don’t care; it’s just that I don’t care.
Be not interested. This can be a hard one because people definitely don’t want you to not be interested in the drama or all the little things that have lead up to the drama. They want to tell you all about it. They want you to ask questions so that they can tell you all the sordid little details of a situation. For instance:

“Did you know that Sybil is divorcing Ben?”
“Yes, I knew. That’s very sad.”
“Well, do you know what happened?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Didn’t you ask her about it?”
“No, I didn’t.”

That type of little exchange can drive a person given to drama quite crazy. You didn’t get any of the sordid details? You didn’t want to know? You don’t seem to want to discuss it. What’s the matter with you? Basically, you have decided that it’s none of your business. Or, more importantly, it certainly isn’t in your best interest to discuss the matter with them. Here’s another:

“Harold said that he won’t be coming to the barbecue.”
“Why not? “
“Well, Jim and Helen will be there, and he’d rather not run into them.”
“What? Why not? What happened?”
“I don’t know.”
“Didn’t he tell you?”
“No. He didn’t say anything else about it?”
“And you didn’t ask him?”
“Why not?”
“It’s none of my business.”

Get an ambulance, because the drama-addict is about to pass out. He cannot believe you left it at that.

Hey, I’m not a trash can.
You get the picture. To stay in the D.F.Z. you’ll have to guard your ears and your mind. Decide to “stay out” of other people’s business. You may be one of those people who others often come to for advice. In those cases, you may have to hear details of things that have occurred. But don’t get in the habit of allowing people to dump details of potential drama on you just as a normal thing to do.

I’ve visited offices for consulting purposes and had people tell me the most intimate and personal things about their co-workers without any prompting. I’ve been shocked at the things people have said to me, a relative stranger, regarding the people they’ve known and worked with for years; very negative conversations that people have allowed me to hear about another person that were downright embarrassing. In those instances, I try to say generic uplifting things, but usually, the best and the only recourse is to step away as quickly as possible. I have, on occasion, just simply said I would rather not hear what they’re talking about. That’s the smack down, and people don’t usually know how to respond to that. They’ll forgive you and try to give you another opportunity to hear the crap, so you’ll have to tell them again for sure… and perhaps the third time. Here are some words for that –“I don’t want to hear that. It sounds like personal information that I have no business being privy to.”

In the long run, your general composure and disposition, including a disapproving scowl, let’s people know that you’re on another road…the high road. They may not identify it as the high road themselves, but that’s where you are, in the D.F.Z. If you’re not literally counseling someone, there’s no reason to allow others to bring negative information to you about someone else. It’s not even reasonable to let them relay a slew of negative information about themselves. That’s often just a camouflage for some other drama-soaked information they’re about to share.

Oh no she didn’t just say that.
Directness. Frank, honest assessment of situations that people want to share with you is another excellent tool for staying in the D.F.Z. You’ve had people share situations with you in which they confessed to making some of the most ridiculous choices ever. More times than not, you haven’t said to them “That was the most stupid thing you could have ever done.” Start saying that if it’s true. Don’t be cruel. But we all know people who really need to hear that. The ones who, time after time, make the same mistakes. Women who repeatedly hook up with the wrong men. Men who constantly get attached to the wrong women. They come crying to you about how they don’t understand why this is happening to them…again. Tell them the truth and then tell them that you would rather not be in on their next drama episode. Go ahead and tell them that you, without a doubt, expect that they will be in that same situation again, but to kindly spare you the details. Their crying will probably stop for a second while they look at you incredulously and wonder how you can be so cruel. Now, walk away or change the subject to something totally off the subject, i.e., “Have you seen Avatar yet?”

After a while, people will think twice about bringing ridiculousness to you. They’ll come to you when they are not perpetuating drama. They’ll seek your advice when they are serious about making positive changes about the drama in their lives. After a while, people won’t come to you with gossip because they’ll be tired of being rejected or getting the smack down about sharing inappropriate information with you. Drama addicts don’t like to start a kindle where there’s no one to fan the flame.

Staying in the Drama Free Zone is not about ignoring drama. Some drama cannot be ignored, such as family drama or work drama; it has to be handled. Handling family and work drama require direct responses and a keen ability to move Start letting people know that you don’t repeat things without divulging the “source” and that you will go to the subject of whatever you hear to both verify the information and to check on the well-being of that person. Most times that will definitely deter people coming to you with “hearsay” and negative gossip.

I had the luxury of hiring an entire staff of about twenty for a new business. I was able to have an orientation with them all starting together, enabling me to set the standard for our interactions with everyone at one time. Along with integrity, professionalism and initiative, I also stressed what huge importance I placed on communication and drama; or should I say the lack of drama. I relayed my style of handling matters which included what I’ve written in the previous paragraphs. Hence, we had little or none of that. Of course, there was the brief proving period where my resolve on those issues was tried, but it wasn’t long before we could count on a pleasant, productive and drama-free workplace.

Family drama…uh oh.
Family drama can be handled in the same way. However, there is a much greater emotional toll involved when it comes to loved ones. It can be hard to stay on your horse, let alone the high road. You have to have a strong foundation in order to “do the right thing” when everyone else around you is slipping into the mire of excited and poorly thought out responses. Everyone wants to put the onus of thinking of other’s first on everyone else. It’s like the little boy who took the last cookie. When his mother asked him if he thought Jesus would approve of him taking the last cookie, he answered that he was giving someone else a chance to be like Jesus. Heck, give someone else a chance to be big. I’m hurting, and I want to throw a fit.

I’ve found that I can wait for a cooling down period, hard as that may be, to get my point across to my loved ones. I can even choose not to say something that I want to say. I can apologize when I’ve slipped and said something too harshly. I can be wrong and have to fix it. Yes, I said it. Hey, I said we should take the high road, not be on a high horse!

Alright, there’s a lot more to this story of living in the Drama Free Zone. There’s avoiding those people who -without fail- bring drama. There’s keeping yourself spiritually fit to deal with “surprise drama.” There’s the “Just Say No.” aspect of staying in the D.F.Z.

Let’s face it, we all know what drama is, or at least we have an idea of what it means to us. I’m sure whatever definition you have of drama, it’s not positive, good, nor pleasant. It’s something that anyone with class and common sense would like to stay away from. This little paper has addressed a few points. There is a spiritual aspect to this whole thing that we haven’t addressed. My workshops go into some of those issues…and they are the real key.

Stay tuned for part Deux…



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