Emotional Drama Has Its Healthy Limits

Healthy relationships come from a balance between feeling, reacting, and restraining
April 6, 2018 Updated: April 6, 2018

Healthy relationships can be the foundation of a fulfilling life.

There is some amount of drama that makes life more exciting, unexpected, and fun. We may bump into an old flame, negotiate a risky business deal, or study for a big exam.

Those are examples of agreeable drama.

There are also the less desirable kinds of drama such as big blowout fights over nothing important, losing your temper because your spouse is watching the TV too loud, bursting into tears over not having someone call back, or melting down on the way out the door because you hate your outfit.

The behavior that accompanies this type of drama is not good for anyone—not us, nor the person onto which we are projecting the drama. Somewhere along the way, things got wired wrong with respect to appropriate responses to our feelings.

Some may ask, “Isn’t it healthy to feel your feelings?”

The answer is “Yes,” but there is a caveat.

When we over-indulge in them, our feelings can be as bad as not feeling at all. This is the drama.

The scenario usually plays out along these lines: You feel hurt, angry, lonely, rejected, offended, or some type of personal reaction. You decide to respond to it at a Level 10, even if the situation may only require a Level 2. Yes, it is important to feel your feelings, but it’s also important not to be too extreme.

The salient point is that we have control over how we react. It is a choice. Choose to react, just not disproportionately to the situation at hand.

In Melody Beattie’s book “The New Codependency,” she talks about thinking of our emotions as a fishing metaphor; the mantra she uses is “catch and release.” This is a very freeing concept to those of us who feel overwhelmed, controlled, or bulldozed by our emotions. Beattie reminds us that we do not have to be devastated by our feelings, that we can catch and release them, or feel them and let them go. Drama will ensue if we resist the pain and instead react impulsively from painful assumptions.

When faced with drama, have an action plan prepared so that you are armed and ready.

Action-Plan Tips

  • Keep a journal or a file on your computer where you “dump” your initial reaction, and once the storm passes, check in again to see if there is more that still needs to be addressed.
  • Go for a walk as a way to let off steam and reboot.
  • Take a bath or shower to revitalize yourself and calm down.
  • Make some tea before you decide to engage.

The more steps you put between you and the potential drama, the less chance it will have as great of an impact on you. Remind yourself you are able to handle any obstacle that comes your way. Usually, it’s a safe bet that you have handled worse.

Agnes Kowalski is a contributor at NaturallySavvy.com, which originally published this article.