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The Hard Truths About Drama

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Ditch the Drama
  • The Hard Truths About Drama

Amber Barnes_Headshot

Today’s post is by guest contributor Amber Barnes.  Nope, Amber doesn’t have children of her own, but being the oldest of six and auntie of twelve (and counting), she finds the incredibleness of moms (aka superheroes) undeniable. As someone whose lifeblood revolves around studying and addressing human behavior in the workplace, Amber sees firsthand the aftermath of mama-drama, the struggle of work/life balance, and the crushing effects of societal pressures, messages, and expectations. Amber is a native Nevadan, an outdoor adventurer, voracious learner, and aspiring yogi. Her and her husband live in Reno with their two Labrador “children”: Guinness and Finn.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “I don’t do drama,” I would be writing this post from a tropical resort in Bali. I often hear this or something similar during a women’s event, where the conversation that follows is laced with criticism, judgment, gossip, complaining, sympathy, and more (all indicators that not only do they do drama, but they play a hidden role in keeping drama alive).

And, before I go on let me clarify that we all do drama (myself included). Drama is everywhere, and the people who don’t claim drama usually have a hidden role that’s actively or passively fueling drama.

Let me explain.

There’s a dynamic called a drama triangle. It’s a triangle because drama requires three characters to be present, fulfilling three roles: victim, persecutor, and rescuer.

Drama TrianglesHere’s an example: Ashley is a working mom who often receives texts and phone calls from her two kids during the workday, especially during the summer. Her co-workers Lisa (not yet a mom) and Bonnie (mom of two-adult children) often make comments about Ashley behind her back and to her boss: “Ashley needs to leave her kids’ drama at home,” OR “she’s always on her phone; she works less than everyone here.” Ashley’s boss often responds with statements like, “leave her alone” and “mind your own business,” and tells Ashley her co-workers are nosy and she shouldn’t trust them.

One evening, when Ashley’s husband asks her to stop texting during a conversation, she breaks down and shouts “everyone is always attacking me.” Then with a heavy heart and a feeling of defeat she proceeds to get the kids ready for bed. Nothing is resolved; it’s a vicious cycle.

So, what’s happening here?

Lisa and Bonnie are playing the role of persecutor. By judging, gossiping, and making assumptions, they put Ashley in the role of victim by not giving her an opportunity to respond.

Ashley’s boss ends up playing the role of rescuer by trying to save Ashley and fix things for her. Ashley’s boss puts her in the role of victim by taking on her problems or trying to minimize the effect on Ashley.

Ashley ends up playing the role of victim by taking on the mindset of “things are happening to me and there’s nothing I can do.” Ashley’s also putting her husband in the role of persecutor based on her response.

You’re likely nodding your head saying, “yep, this sounds like something I experience in some capacity.” Here’s the thing, while situations like this happen often and generally have become the norm, it doesn’t have to be this way. In my next guest post, we’ll look at ways to encourage a new norm.

Now, let me be clear, I’m sharing these roles and this example for ease of understanding. These roles are not to be used for labeling, naming people, or saying things like “you’re being a real victim/persecutor/rescuer.” Labeling, naming, and calling people out is not helpful and often does more to fuel drama than anything else.

To Ditch the Drama® examine the ways in which drama roles might be fueling drama in your life – either actively or passively. Again, remember that labeling and naming is not helpful, and by default keeps drama alive.

What are your thoughts, experiences, and questions about drama?   Have you found a way to Ditch the Drama in your own life? 



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