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We all know someone who constantly seems to be the source of drama. As a therapist and psychologist, I’ve spent 20 years hopping the fence between being caught in the drama and observing it.
“I often have cravings for drama,” one patient, who we’ll call Helen, told me. “I can invent false narratives that end up making me angry with people.”
Here are seven toxic signs of someone who is addicted to drama — and how to deal with them:
When there isn’t an unrelenting sense of urgency, something always feels wrong to them. So to reinforce the urgency, they create a life that is overflowing with commitments, projects and deadlines.
They might try to get your attention by adding escalating words (“extremely bad” versus “bad”) or metaphors (“It was like he saw right through me and I melted into the abyss of space” versus “He ignored what I had to say”).
And, just to make sure you’re paying attention, they’ll perform it with dramatic gestures and facial expressions.
People with a tendency toward drama rarely stay in the background or on the sidelines. Even when they are able to suppress their urge to be the center of attention, they don’t do it for long.
Being in the middle of larger-than-life action tends to make them feel important.
Retelling the same emotional story to different audiences allows them to vent continually. It’s common for them to add variations to the original situation, too.
You’ll often find people who are addicted to drama consumed by what’s happening in the lives of others.
There is a growing prevalence of loneliness in this country, and in the absence of feeling seen and heard, it’s easy to get distracted by those around us.
Like the star of any show, they need the one-way interaction of an audience — people whose only role is to bear witness to the drama.
They also like to assign roles to the rest of the cast. And if cast mates don’t deliver the right lines, there will likely be trouble.
Their inability to control (or predict) the external world leads to feeling overwhelmed, helpless and victimized. This is something all of us experience, but it’s acute for those with a propensity for drama.
Say you take the wrong exit from a traffic circle. For many people, it’s a minor inconvenience or mistake. But to the drama addict, it’s an unfair catastrophe that happened to them.
Being able to identify the signs of a drama addict will empower you with a sense of awareness, giving you a better idea of how to handle the situation.
Below are some tips:
When you see someone start to engage in the drama cycle, tell yourself these statements to help you take a step back:
This isn’t about making excuses. It’s to help you avoid being pulled into the drama and instead be a compassionate witness.
Explain what you are and aren’t open to hearing:
Setting a firm but kind boundary will not only make you feel better, it can also help lower the temperature for the drama addict in the moment.
The truth is that sometimes you will just have to walk away and end the relationship (for now).
While the terms “break up,” “walk away from someone,” or “leave the relationship” are often used, the reality is that you are making the conscious choice to return your energy and attention back to yourself.
When faced with senseless drama, spiteful criticisms and misguided opinions, walking away is the best way to stand up for yourself. To respond with anger is an endorsement of their attitude.
Self Motivated, Trauma Neutralizer, Lover of Persiflage & Sapio-sensual
We all experience drama. Some are just regal about it, its bred into their personalities. Identify and overcome!
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