confidence

Adventures in Self-Love: Don't Be Such a Drama Queen.

This post was originally published on November 11, 2014 but it's a goodie and I recently learned some interesting new information about drama so I wanted to give it a refresh and share it again, for those who missed it the first go 'round.

I used to attract drama as if my life were a daytime soap opera. I had a boss who sought out scandal and picked fights with people like it was her job.

I had a boyfriend who would scream “You never really loved me!” whenever things didn’t go his way.

I lost a personal and business relationship with someone and had my life devolve into the most dramatic episode I’ve ever experienced due to a silly incident that happened at my birthday party.

Whenever a friend was in crisis, I’d always get drawn into it to the point of being intimately involved.

I couldn’t understand why these things were always happening to me. I didn’t want my life to be like this.

Or did I?

Because, on some level, I was choosing all of this. I was addicted to the drama.

We might not like the anxiety, jealousy, anger, and frustration that come along with drama, but it sure is easy to get addicted to the rush.

Luckily recognizing the problem and realizing your part in it is the first step to overcoming it. To taking back your power, rather than letting your life constantly be blown up and down by whatever’s happening around you.

Drama is defined as “an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances” - so it isn’t inherently bad.

But when we get hooked on the adrenaline, excitement, and attention that drama brings, we get attached to it and we find ways to manufacture drama – usually by creating or seeking out conflict. When life is flowing easily, we’ll find ways to make it difficult. We’ll see obstacles instead of seeking solutions. We’ll hold back our feelings and create tension in our lives. We’ll put up with treatment from other people that diminishes our self-worth. Pretty soon we’re anxious all of the time.

When we give into the drama our body enters a state of stress. The adrenaline and cortisol it produces changes our circadian rhythm, which can result in insomnia, a disrupted metabolism, weakened immune system, and memory decline. In other words, being a drama addict is pretty much the antithesis of loving yourself.

I would never have thought of myself as a drama queen - I like to avoid conflicts and if I’m not careful, I slide easily into people-pleasing tendencies. But if we’re not being true to ourselves, we create internal conflict. We fuel resentments. We manufacture anxiety. And eventually, something’s going to snap.

A couple of years ago I started to think about all of this really carefully. I had just broken it off with yet another guy who made me feel less than. I couldn’t help asking myself, “Why does this keep happening?” I thought about The Super Dramatic Episode of 2013. About who I chose to date. About how I react to stressful situations. There was only one conclusion I could come to: I was the common denominator. I was a drama queen.

I had recognized the problem and I dedicated myself to figuring out the solution. That day I wrote in my journal, “I’ll still relish excitement and adventure, but I’m committed to living a life free from unnecessary drama. I’m no longer willing to tolerate people who treat me unkindly or who make me feel unworthy. I will speak up about my needs and voice my feelings freely. When I find myself mentally dissolving into future-tripping or manufacturing drama for myself, I will recognize my power to choose a different thought. I’m no longer going to be a drama queen.”

Recovering from a drama addiction is an ongoing process and requires more perseverance than I’d originally anticipated, but by bringing awareness to the situation and committing to change, I've made huge strides. Here are my suggestions for going on a drama detox and living a more peaceful existence:

Recognize your role(s) in the triangle. This is something I just learned about through my friend Ebonie's amazing program Misfit to Maven in 80 Days: The Karpman Drama Triangle (which she goes into a lot more detail about in the program). Many psychologists believe that by the time we're four or five years old, we've developed a "script" - a set of beliefs about who we are, how the world works, and how to relate to the world and other people. These scripts then play out in our behaviour through "games" - interactions with the world that are subconsciously driven by our beliefs (which, unfortunately, are usually limiting). The Drama Triangle gives us an opportunity to assess what roles we're playing: whether that's the persecutor, the victim, or the rescuer. We may even be playing different roles in different areas of our life, or even within the same situation. But no matter what role we're acting in, most of us will FEEL like the victim. So by reading more about the triangle and examining what roles we unconsciously tend to adopt, we can opt out of the triangle (and the drama) in order to act in more empowered and intentional ways.

Set clear boundaries. When we know what behaviour we will and won't tolerate, it becomes easier to know when we need to stand up for ourselves, speak our truths, and make difficult decisions about who we allow into our lives. I'd recommend spending some quality time with a journal thinking this through. What negative patterns have you recognised in your life? What kinds of conflict tend to create drama in your life? What behaviour have you tolerated in the past even though you knew you deserved better? Brainstorm a list of ways you'll recognise when your boundaries have been crossed and what you'll do about it.

Be strict about who you spend your time with. Like attracts like, so if we spend most of our time with people who crave and manifest drama, we're bound to end up with more of it in our lives. Sometime we have to make difficult decisions about who we have close relationships with. If you recognise someone as adding more drama than they do value to your life it might be time to think about ending your relationship or limiting the amount of time you spend with them. If this is someone you have to be around, like a co-worker, be very clear about the boundaries you have with them. Limit your interactions to the workplace and keep your conversations focused on the job. This isn't about being cruel to anyone; just recognising that the people we spend time with play a big part in shaping our lives, so it's important to choose wisely.

Recognize your triggers. Sometimes we're addicted to drama because it feels like the norm in certain areas of our life, either as a result of how we were raised or the beliefs we've developed. For many of us, this manifests most strongly in our romantic lives or our relationships to work. If we grew up in a house where our parents were always yelling at one another, we may have unconsciously come to believe that this is what love looks like. As a result, even when we're in a healthy relationship, we find ways to create drama and make ourselves unhappy with the situation. Luckily we have the option to choose new beliefs. In each of your trigger areas write down a healthier belief that's infused with self-love. Maybe it's "I'm learning to believe that romantic relationships are nurturing, affectionate, and mutually supportive" (my post on writing powerful affirmations will help you). When you find yourself creating your reality around an old belief, remind yourself of the new one and act on it instead. If you feel powerless to overcome these limiting beliefs or address your triggers, consider working with a therapist to help you through the process.

Cultivate self-expression. For someone who's quite outspoken, I have a hard time expressing myself when I know it's going to make me vulnerable. But by getting clear on my personal boundaries and identifying my triggers, I find it easier to articulate myself instead of staying silent, breeding resentment, and creating future drama. If you recognise the need to speak up with someone in your life, remember: it doesn't have to be a major conflict. I find it best to let the person know ahead of time so that we can both be prepared for the conversation (and so I don't weasel out of it). The more I've been open and honest, the easier it's become. And the more my life looks and feels the way I want it to, because I'm asking for what I need.

Choose a different thought. So much of the drama we create is based only in ourthoughts - not in reality. And our thoughts are our own creations. There's a powerful line in A Course in Miracles that says, “I can see this differently.” This simple phrase is an important reminder of the power we have to change our own minds. If you find yourself getting caught up in the drama of your thoughts, pause and remember that you can see the situation differently. Tell yourself, "I can seelove instead" and then choose a more peaceful, loving thought.

Protect yourself. Dramatic situations are going to arise. Conflicts are going to happen. But you don't have to get caught up in them. Rather than letting your mind run away with you, find a way to pull yourself back to the present moment, rather than getting sucked in. Focus on your breath. Rub a crystal that you've got tucked in your pocket. Recite an affirmation. Find something that soothes you and use it to protect yourself.

This hasn’t been a clear, black and white process for me. It's become very clear to me that romantic relationships and stressful work situations, and even my relationship to food, really trigger the drama addict in me. But by consistently applying the strategies above, I'm finding it easier to let go. To speak up. To look at things differently. And that's a big step forward on my self-love journey.

What about you, do you find yourself getting caught up in drama or making situations more stressful for yourself?

Give up the drama, baby!

Judgment Day.

How often do we hold ourselves back because we’re afraid of how other people will react? We don’t get the tattoo we’ve been dreaming about for years.

We don’t wear the flouncy dresses or glittery headbands we really love.

We don’t sign up for online dating.

We don’t say what we really mean.

We don’t change directions even when we feel stuck.

We don’t talk to that exciting person across the room.

We don't publish that blog post.

We don’t take a chance.

We don’t make the leap.

Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.

We hold ourselves back because we’re terrified of being judged.

But the thing is, remaining paralyzed doesn’t stop us from being judged.

And maybe judgment isn’t such a bad thing after all.

When we focus on pleasing everyone, we practically make ourselves invisible.

We become bland and beige. And perhaps we’ll never offend someone, but we’ll never achieve greatness, inspire others, or change the world either.

Think about the people you most admire.

I’m willing to bet that, in the face of judgment, fear, & self-doubt, they took a chance on their wild dreams and created the world they wanted to live in.

People look up to them not because they hid from criticism but because they stood up boldly in the face of it.

I used to feel too shy to wear the things I really liked. But now I’m comfortable in sequins as daywear, tutus at the office, and bunny ears at breakfast. Sure I get a few dirty looks, but I also inspire a lot of smiles and have been blessed with many amazing conversations that started because someone wanted to tell me they liked my bedazzled outfit.

Similarly, as I’ve begin to step into my passions and speak proudly about the things that light me up, I’ve connected with so many people who are on the same journeys and from others who say I’ve inspired them to take more chances and love themselves more fully. How cool is that?

Being controversial, raising eyebrows, and even being on the receiving end of scorn means you’re doing something worth noticing. Not everyone will like you, but your tribe will get it. And they'll love you for it.

So what can you do to be a little bit bolder – a little more you – today?

I’ll be here cheering you on!

Sometimes Life is Just Butterfly Soup (And That's Okay!)

I want to tell you a story about butterfly soup. We all know that butterflies start out as caterpillars. They wrap themselves in a silk cocoon before emerging as a beautiful, winged creature.

But did you know that inside of the cocoon, the caterpillar completely digests itself?

Before it can undergo this complete transformation, the creature must turn into a melted goo of nutritive enzymes.

The cellular data to construct the butterfly that the caterpillar was born with is all there. In that way, it maintains an integral sense of self. But in every other respect, it's just ooze.

Okay, this is a really fascinating story in and of itself but you get it, I'm telling it to you for a reason. Because it's also a really great metaphor.

Last week I felt like butterfly soup.

I was constantly on the verge of tears. Breaking down at the slightest thing. Often hysterical. Totally on edge. Really irritable. A little bit ill. Emotionally, I was little more than ooze.

Sometimes life races ahead at a mile a minute. You've spent weeks, months, or even years laying the groundwork and all of a sudden the transformation is underway. Things that were once only dreams are coming to fruition. Everything you've been working for is so close you can almost taste it.

For me this looks like stepping into a new chapter with the love of my life. Barrelling ahead with new business and creative endeavours. Shaking off old fears and limiting beliefs to fully step into my bliss.

Your changes and transformations might look completely different than mine. But just like the caterpillar, you might have to become butterfly soup first. It's part of the process. It's the breakdown before the breakthrough. The storm before the rainbow. The dark before dawn.

It's easy to berate yourself for feeling this way. It might seem like just as everything is beginning to fall into place, the last thing you should be doing is falling apart. You insist that you should be feeling grateful or even joyous, but you don't. And that's okay!

If you were to slit open a cocoon midway through its metamorphosis, that butterfly soup would ooze out everywhere. The cocoon is a protective shell keeping everything together so that this radical transformation can occur.

When your life is changing in profound ways - when you're changing - don't forget to create that cocoon for yourself. Spend more time by yourself. Write in your journal. Get back to your meditation practice. Walk in nature. Eat grounding foods. Take long baths. Move your body to music. Lie in the dark. Talk to someone about how you're feeling. Say no. Take a break. Stay home.

You'll know how long you need. You'll feel the shift inside of you. And just like the butterfly you'll start beating your wings, slowly at first and then stronger and stronger until the cocoon can no longer contain you. And what a beautiful moment that will be!

But you don't have to push yourself there. Acknowledge the soupy mess as part of your transformation. Wrap yourself up in a cocoon of love, and trust the process. Everything you've ever done, been, and felt is combining to allow the new you to burst forth. Give yourself the time you need.

Wrapping you up in love,