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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dealing with High-Drama People

Got people that get under your skin? People that make you want to whip your hair back and forth?


This post is a "God-send" then. It's a guest post from my twiter friend, Dr. Thema.



There are some people who thrive on high drama. They like to create it. They feel most comfortable when they’re surrounded by it. Constant drama is not only a lot of work for the individual who is creating it but it is also very draining for those who are around them. It usually doesn’t take long to recognize when you’re dealing with a high drama person.  

Here are some of the signs:
• The person has the capacity to make the smallest issues into a major event.
• The person usually dominates every conversation.
• When the person does withdraw, they do it in a very attention grabbing way that manages to focus all energy toward them.
• They seem to always be on stage or putting on a performance.
• They find it easier to see the negative than the positive.
• They have a way of speaking to people that creates tension.

If you have a friend or family member who is a drama starter, it can be very difficult to manage. There are a number of possible reasons for their behavior. The person may:
• Create drama as a distraction from dealing with their real issues.
• Have grown up with constant put-downs and have never learned how to be positive or affirming.
• Feel insecure and need constant attention to convince them that they are valued.
• Confuse peaceful with boring and create drama to entertain themselves and others.

For those who are in relationship with high drama people, here are some pointers:

1. Be very clear about your relationship with the person. You can be the supportive friend, family member, or spouse but you cannot be their therapist.
2. You have to set up healthy boundaries to both take care of yourself and also to discourage unhealthy dynamics in the relationship.
3. Aim to be a stable, grounded person not someone who feeds off of the drama and escalates it. Do not give the person the message that their job is to entertain you. Be the kind of friend that doesn’t pressure them to perform.
4. Develop a healthy sense of yourself so you don’t let the drama cause you to doubt yourself or your worth.
5. Set limits. While it is good to be supportive, if the high drama person is being disrespectful or abusive, don’t feel you have to suffer in silence. Take the space and time you need to think honestly about the level of contact you want to maintain with the person. If you need to reduce the time you spend with the person, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It means you are taking steps to protect and preserve your emotional well-being.

Most importantly, don’t get caught up in the drama. Take a step back so you can see things clearly. 

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Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, Associate Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine Univeresity, is President of the Society of the Psychology of Women. Dr. Thema is a licensed clinical psychologist. ESSENCE magazine named her among Women Who Are Shaping the World. She has been featured on Dr. Phil, BET Tonight, K-Ci and Jo Jo Come Clean, and PBS' Basic Black as well as in the Boston Globe and Black Entertainment Television’s Weekend Magazine. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed books and is the recording artist on the CD Sky: An upbeat black girl’s song. Her work is based in an interdisciplinary understanding of spirituality, culture, and psychology.

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