We all know a drama queen. She always has something going on; there’s one crisis after another. These people always seem to have a problem that gets their outrage all worked up. It may be their own problem or a cause they’ve adopted as their own – and they love to talk about it. Now I understand that we have challenges and difficulties; that’s not exactly what I mean. I’m talking about the people who seem to thrive on having a problem to talk about. A loved one has a health condition? Well, the better to tell all her friends so that they can sympathize with her. These types of people thrive on the attention and energy that they get from others when they talk about their problems. It’s like the problems are the bait, and they attract others’ energy to the drama queen.
If an honest appraisal makes you think that this could be you – on occasion anyway – what do you do about it? First, I would suggest that you minimize the emotional power you give your problems or causes. Deal with the facts, but try to avoid catastrophizing. I know that’s hard, as I’ve been there myself, but until something happens, it just lets a potential steal all my energy from my here and now – my actual.
It’s up to me to build my inner resilience so I can handle whatever comes up. Once I recognize that I can handle it, one way or another, my problems feel smaller. Drama queens seem afraid of everything. If they are honest with themselves, this might not even be true, but a grab for attention or the Adrenalin of the emotional ride.
Second, get some perspective. My youngest daughter recently slid on the ice and ripped her car’s fender. She called home, and we had the standard questions: Are you okay? Do you need some help? Are you able to get home? There was no yelling and no recriminations. We’ve had the 2:00 a.m. call from the emergency room with an older child who had been in a severe car accident. We are so grateful that this accident was a mere fender-bender! The ice makes it hard to stop; enough said. We fixed up the car and moved on. We are just relieved that it wasn’t worse.
When my cat was diagnosed with a severe illness, I was concerned but didn’t go into drama mode. It’s treatable, at least for now. I’ve been sent to the vet’s “comfort room” to euthanize a pet for an untreatable illness. It gives me perspective about what’s a crisis and what’s just a problem.
If your crises are an excuse to avoid the deep problems in your life – the ones you’re ashamed of and don’t want to look at – then you have a potential path of real, tangible change. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Leave the drama talk for the onlookers and gawkers.
This article was first published in Sibyl Magazine.