One sure sign of being a drama diva is letting outside circumstances pull you off your commitments to yourself or to others. Here's an example. You committed to a morning walk for yourself 4 mornings a week. Your daughter constantly has trouble with her child care. At least once a week calls you in an “emergency” situation asking that you keep her daughter for the day. You do it, using the excuse “there's nothing more important than helping my family. What else is she supposed to do?”
In fact, you are not helping your daughter. You are modeling two things for her that will keep her irresponsible and thoughtless.
- Your health and well being is at the bottom of the list, below everyone else's needs.
- It's OK to constantly use a family member to help out in a situation that happens over and over, instead of taking responsibility to fix a situation that is a chronic problem. (In this case, get a different child care provider that is dependable throughout the week.)
Murray Bowen, one of American's most preeminent psychiatrists back in time, created the term “differentiation.” If we have differentiation, we have the ability to keep our own values and integrity intact no matter the situation around us. In other words, we have what I call a “ground of being” that is rock solid, that we stand on firmly. Another person's drama doesn't pull us off our own ground.
Does this mean that we are heartless and stingy? Not at all. In fact, people who are grounded are much more helpful to family members than people who get just as upset and distressed as the person who owns the situation.
If you are grounded and not drama driven, you will be able to say without one trace of guilt or distress, “I'm sorry, I have plans for today that I need to keep for my own health and well-being. You know, your child care provider seems to fall through for you at least once a week, and I notice it's been going on for some time. That's got to be frustrating and irritating for you. If you will ask around and find some alternatives for a new child care provider, I'll also ask my friends who their daughters use, and I'll save some time in the next week to go check the new places out with you, if that will be helpful. Would you like that?”
When you say this, you are helping your family member step away from constant drama and guiding her to a real solution to her problem. You are modeling helpfulness that is truly helpful in the long run, and you are modelling taking care of yourself.
A drama diva lets someone else's situation become her own situation, buying into the drama, tension, anxiety, and distress. If that's you, find your ground. Differentiate yourself from others – you are a separate being, with your own needs and desires. You will be better off – and the other person will, in the end, be much better off, too.
If you'd like to read more about Murray Bowen and differentiation, you can click here.