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Learning to Say "No" to Drama

Every year I try to take a few weeks and push the “reset” button in my life. It usually happens in June, right after we stop travelling for the Spring. Life slows down, we’re home a little more, and I have time to reevaluate, ask the hard questions, and seek God’s direction for the upcoming year.

This year, there was no time in the month of June to schedule in a period of rest and “reset”. Spring travel went right into summer projects and summer travel. By the time September arrived, I was exhausted. Compound that with some physical issues I was experiencing, and I was so thankful for a small break in our schedule that allowed me to slow down, take a deep breath, step away for the stress for a moment, and spend some time with my Heavenly Father asking what’s next.

Going into this year’s “reset” September, I really had no idea what new directions God would lead or what areas He would want changed. Then I attended a minister’s meeting where a very respected speaker spoke about managing your time, and the Holy Spirit used this opportunity to show me the first area that needed a radical adjustment.

What did I need to eliminate from my life: Drama.

Interesting direction, isn’t it?

I don’t know the role that drama plays in your life as a leader, but in my world, other people’s drama is a HUGE thief. It robs my time, my energy, and my emotional stamina. Too often, it keeps me in crisis mode when there really is no emergency. Looking back over the past few years, I can see that far too frequently other people’s panic, procrastination, or even temper tantrums would often blow into my life like a tornado. Before I know it, my peace is gone and I’m running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to “put out fires” rather than focusing on the true leadership tasks at hand.

As I listened to the speaker talk that day, I realized that it was time for this to stop.

The truth is that only I can control my schedule, my emotions, or the level of drama in my life. Just because someone wants to draw me into their drama, doesn’t mean that I have to except the invitation. In fact, in most cases, it would be better if I didn’t.

Of course, I know that this isn’t going to just naturally happen. No, it’s going to require some very intentional efforts on my part to keep from falling into this trap again.

No, I don’t claim to have all the answers as to how to overcome this problem. However, here’s a list of a few practical things that will help both you and I make a good start:

1. Create a schedule and stick to it.

One thing I realized over the summer is that it is absolutely essential for me to create a schedule in my life and stick to it. I also have to share my schedule with the other people in my life and then require them to abide by the boundaries of that schedule unless there is a legitimate emergency.

It’s important that we define legitimate emergency. That would be death of a close relative, hospitalization, an act of God that dramatically interrupts life.

Sound drastic? Well, maybe it is. However, what I’ve learned is that people who are proned to drama can create emergencies out of just about anything. Before long, the sniffles, a minor home repair, or even having their feelings hurt is cause for a theatrical performance and a reason to throw off everyone else’s schedule.

Unfortunately, when this happens, the Holy Spirit is not in control of our days, but rather we are bowing to the cruel taskmaster of drama. However, we do not have to remain a slave. Instead, we can choose to stick to our schedule and continue moving forward rather than get caught up in the drama. What I’ve found is that when we make this choice in our lives, the people in our lives tend to get the message and adapt. But as long as we keep letting other people’s drama throw our lives into a tailspin, they will be more than happy to keep recklessly driving the car of our life.

2. Choose facts over emotion.

There is a person in my life who overreacts to EVERYTHING. Whenever they communicate, they try to get me to follow their path and overreact and panic. Being completely vulnerable I’ll admit that for a long time, their methods worked. Almost every conversation ended with me upset and distraught.

Then I learned how to overcome.

The answer? Whenever they bring me a “tragedy”, I calmly say, “Let’s go face this issue head on and try to come up with a solution.”

It’s like watching a balloon deflate. It’s odd, but for them, solving the problem is actually disappointing. They don’t want a solution, they want drama. When the drama card isn’t on the table, we either quickly resolve an issue or sometimes the issues disappears altogether. Turns out it wasn’t that necessary or urgent after all, they just wanted the attention.

That’s why I’m learning that in my quest to eliminate drama from my life, I need to focus on facts, instead of wasting time and energy on false assumptions, unfounded fear and role playing worse case scenarios. Instead, I’m choosing to look the problem in the eye, find a solution, and just move on.

3. Avoid procrastination

Procrastination causes panic. When I put things off until the last minute, I’m giving drama an open invitation to come in and make the task ten times harder than it needs to be. Instead, I’m choosing to “work ahead”. That way when life happens or an interruption occurs, it isn’t a catastrophe. Because I’ve worked ahead, I can go with the flow without drama.

What do you do when other people’s procrastination creates the drama? Follow some very wise words spoken by my presbyter, Rev. Randy Rhoades, “Your procrastination is NOT my emergency.”

Don’t let other people drag you into the drama they created. It sounds harsh but the truth is that sometimes we need to let other people miss their deadlines and suffer the consequences of their choices. We need to choose to keep our peace and avoid the drama.

4. Avoid petty conflicts and gossip

No matter what your situation in life, there will always be an opportunity to jump into a petty conflict. Someone will always be angry with someone else, feelings will always be hurt, and those people will always be more than willing to drag you into their war by telling you their story, asking for “advice”, or trying to make you choose sides.

The problem is that every time you get involved in someone else’s drama, you are spending your emotional and mental energy fighting a battle that you can’t win. You weren’t made for that. Although there is a time and place for counseling and helping people resolve their issues, we all know this is different that getting involved in an interpersonal squabble with people who just want you to take their side but don’t really want to fix the problem.

In these instances, we need to just learn to walk away and avoid the drama. Trust me when I say that life is filled with enough conflict---you don’t need to borrow someone else’s. Even though the temptation is there to get involved in the drama---make a better choice and choose to take a pass. Instead, seek peace and pursue it.

5. Learn to let it go

Quite honestly, this is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn and put into practice. True confession: I’m a perfectionist. As such, it kills me to miss a deadline. I HATE doing thing half-way or not completely a task. It’s really hard for me to watch someone else make a bad decision and just let it go. There’s something inside of me that says, “You need to fix them. You need to make them do the right thing. No matter what the cost you need to get this done.”

In the past, this particular character trait has caused me a lot of drama.


Well, the problem is that other people don’t always see things the way I do. Some people are fine with being late or skipping a deadline. Even though their Ca Sara Sara attitude drives me crazy, they are fine with the situation.

Here’s what I’m learning: I need to let other people make their choices and sometimes make their own mistakes. (I know, even typing that hurts) After I’ve calmly made a suggestion, I need to let a few things go.

I don’t need to keep rehashing why they are wrong and I’m right over and over in my head.

It’s not going anyone any good to create a big dramatic conflict.

Instead, in these situations I literally envision myself taking my hands off of the situation and letting it go. And then I do my best to leave it there as I move on.

Obviously, this is not a complete list of ways to eliminate drama from your life. These are just some of the ways the Holy Spirit has shown me that I am trying to implement. I’m sure that over time as I conquer these things, He’ll show me new ways to overcome.

For now, these things are helping A LOT!!!

But what about you?

What ways can you keep drama from stealing from you?

Maybe drama affects you differently and you’ll need to make other lifestyle changes.

Perhaps rather than being influenced by drama, you are the drama queen and you need to find ways to overcome.

The important thing isn’t that you learn to avoid all of the things that trigger drama in my life (although I hope sharing them did help some). The key is discovering what creates drama in YOUR life and then coming up with solutions to overcome it.

Where do you start?

Ask the Holy Spirit. He knows your life better than anyone else, and it is His will that drama stops stealing your joy, your peace, and your energy. He wants to give you direction in this area, He’s just waiting for us to jump on board and say, “NO MORE DRAMA!!!”

I’m ready…are you?

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