I was driving back from the grocery store on Sunday when I heard this song by Lil Wayne called “Right Above It” on the radio.
I have to tell you that I’m a sucker for song lyrics. I listen very carefully to them and if someone around me misquotes a lyric I will be the first person to point out the correction. It’s a weird, sometimes annoying, pet peeve I have;)
Anyway, there was a lyric in this song that made me think of you. It went:
We walk the same path but got on different shoes.
Even though you and I come from different families and the details of our experiences may vary, I know that we can relate to and understand each other. And simply knowing that we can stand together on this common, sometimes uncomfortable, ground makes life a whole heck of a lot easier.
So for that I wanted to say thank you – for understanding, sharing and being a reminder to all of us in the GUC community that we’re not alone.
Remembering that we’re not alone comes in handy when dealing with family drama.
When you come from a family that’s prone to overreact and blow the simplest situations out of proportion it can be exhausting. Especially, if you’re working hard on trying to remain calm and not get swept up in the the latest crisis that’s unfolding.
Believe it or not, this drama phenomenon in dysfunctional families is not uncommon.
In his book, The Adult Children Of Alcoholics Syndrome, author Wayne Kritsberg compares how a healthy family and a dysfunctional family deals with drama and crisis. He says:
The healthy family for a short period of time, can act in a very dysfunctional way, depending on the nature of the crisis. The healthy family, however, does not remain in a dysfunctional mode of operation for an extended period of time. It will reassert its health and return to a normal state. This is not true for the alcoholic family (you could also insert dysfunctional family here). Crisis increases the amount of intensity of dysfunction, and the family does not recover. It gets worse.
On the one hand it’s good to know that ongoing drama in a dysfunctional family is normal but on the other hand we still need to know how to deal with it. We need to know what we can do to avoid getting sucked up in the drama.
Sound like something you can relate to? If so, today’s post is for you. I’m sharing 3 simple ideas that will help you avoid getting sucked up in your family’s drama.
Now, here’s one thing you need to know. Detaching from the drama is not easy. So please don’t get frustrated with yourself if you find this difficult. We all do and that’s why when we’re in the trenches with this stuff we need to remember that we’re not alone.
Once you’ve finished reading, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.
How do you deal with family drama without getting sucked up into the nonsense? Any tips or insights you can share?
Remember your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
Until Next Tuesday,
P.S. Got a friend, family member or co-worker that would find this post helpful? Share it with them.
#1 DC Your Focus
One of the first things you can do when trying to disconnect from family drama is to DC your focus. DC in this scenario stands for double-check.
Instead of getting caught up in what she said, or what he did, double-check your focus and shift it back on you.
Focus instead on how the drama makes you feel. Focus instead on the conversation, reactions or judgments that are swirling around in your head. Focus instead on what it is about the drama and the people involved that makes you uncomfortable. What is it about the nonsense that leaves you feeling exhausted? Who, in your family, is consistently the pot stirrer?
You want to DC your focus for several reasons.
First, keeping the focus on you keeps you from getting swept up in the drama. If you can avoid getting swept up in the drama then you can start building your awareness.
Second, awareness, overtime, helps you identify patterns of behavior of specific people in your family that are prone to drama.
Cultivating this awareness makes the drama more tangible. Instead of having this general idea of there being drama in your family, you’ll be able to pinpoint the who, what, when and where of it all.
Finally, once you’ve got this intel under your belt you can start to focus on what you need to do to stop getting sucked up in the drama. Do you need to get honest about how much you participate in the drama? Do you need to consider putting down some boundaries? Do you need to have an honest conversation with someone in your family about what’s going on?
I’ve found this process to be helpful when dealing with my dad. Every time he called me, there was always some drama going on in his life that I’d get sucked up into. I’d get off the phone with him and be consistently upset and I got to the point where I was just tired of feeling that way.
So I started to pay attention to the patterns between us. Instead of getting tangled up in the drama, I double-checked my focus and started to pay attention to what was going on in my own head.
As my awareness grew, I came up with an idea that helped me avoid getting sucked up in my dad’s latest mess. Instead of answering the phone when he called, I called him when I was ready to. And not only that, I made it clear up front, without going into a huge explanation of why, that I only had a limited amount of time to talk.
This put me in control of the conversation with my dad. It broke the pattern of behavior between us. He couldn’t just call me anymore and take a verbal dump. As a result, I was able to detach from the drama.
Remember, there isn’t one right or wrong way to approach this. When it comes to figuring out the best approach to take when dealing with family drama, my best advice is to remain open, curious and keep trying new things until you find something that works for you and your specific situation.
#2 Quit Stoking The Fire
When you’re around the overreactors in your family, it’s also important to stay focused on not adding more fuel to the fire. And one way you can do this is to make sure that you keep your lips zipped. Don’t add in any information, don’t argue, try to defend, correct or add your two cents in.
Doing so will only loop you in the drama. Believe me, I know it’s much easier said than done but with some practice this is a skill that you can learn. Instead, try to remain neutral, sit back, observe and listen. If it helps try to pretend that you’re watching a really over the top soap opera or low-budget film as the drama unfolds.
Remember, we’re trying to build awareness here. And it will be much more difficult to do that if you stoke the fire.
#3 When You’re Not Feelin The Groove – Move!
This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard on how to instantly detach from drama. You simply, physically remove yourself from the situation.
That means, you get up and walk away from the person or the people that are raising hell.
You leave the room, take a walk or go for a drive in your car. You do whatever you need to do to physically remove yourself.
By walking away, even if you can only do it temporarily, you give yourself a chance to reset. You give yourself a chance to catch your breath, to organize your thoughts and to check in.
I’d also add that this approach can be helpful before you even step foot in larger family gathering situations. For example, if you know that there’s a family get together coming up where the drama will be flowing, you can decide not to go.
If that’s what you need to do to avoid getting sucked up and spit out by family drama – then do it. I know it’s not an easy choice to make and it’s certainly one that will probably raise a few eyebrows but when it comes to your sanity you need to do what’s best for you. As Bindu – a famous Indian actress – once said:
Drama is hate. Drama is pushing your pain onto others. Drama is destruction. Some take pleasure in creating drama while others make excuses to stay stuck in drama. I choose not to step into a web of drama that I can’t get out of.
Again, you can tailor all of these tips to best accommodate your situation. Test drive one or two and see what works best for you. Maybe these tips will inspire you to come up with your own ideas on how to stop getting sucked up in family drama. If they do, make sure you come back and share your discoveries in the comment section.