Lately, I have been learning a lot about drama and what to do when it is unavoidably forced upon you. One of the more recent resources that I have stumbled across is Ray Kane’s Drama Proofing Your Life series that has been airing monthly on Moody Radio’s Midday Connection program. To give you a taste of how helpful this series is when it comes to understanding and dealing with difficult people, I copied the notes that I took while listening to Part 5 of Drama Proofing Your Life (which aired on February 19th) and pasted them into the space below.
In a drama, there’s a victim, a persecutor and a rescuer. The victim says: “I’m blameless, I’m helpless.” The persecutor says: “I’m right. I’m powerful.” The rescuer or caretaker says: “I can help. I’m special.”
The five factors that make up a drama pattern are:
- Unresolved Fear
Drama’s occur when an individual chooses:
- not to deal with his intensity (i.e., pain of the past)
- to be defensive
- not to deal with their fear anger and sadness
Fear is at the pinnacle of the drama triangle. There are more verses on fear than on love in the bible. Whenever I’m angry, 9 times out of 10, it’s because of fear. Anger is our way of growling when we’re afraid.
The fears that create drama are fear of …
- death (someone else is going to die, or I’m going to die an emotional death)
Three questions to ask yourself:
- How do I deal with my intensity and pain?
- How do I deal with my defensiveness that is my ego?
- How do I deal with my fear?
The intensity card
is critical to being able to disarm the intensity pattern.
Another reason that people create drama (in addition to a lack of problem-solving skills) is because they are defined by the outside-in.
Some people tend to be more outside-in than inside-out in terms of the way they live their life. Generally an outside-in person will look to their environment. They’ll read for acceptance and rejection, for instance. Or they may look for some form of excitement to invigorate them and help them “come alive” by getting some kind of self-esteem (a sense of worth, competence, and belonging) from the drama they are creating; and so they might have a tendency to stir the pot or to be in a go-between type of situation.Kane encourages us to consider: What are we trying to gain by creating drama or perpetuating drama? Is this the best way to accomplish my goal?Everyone is responsible for their own pain. When a spouse is pouting, withdrawing because he’s hoping to be rescued and playing the victim, he’s not wanting to take responsibility. If the wife disengages without being mean and allows herself to understand what’s going on with her spouse, she can apply knowledge with wisdom and discernment to really grow.More about emotional intensity:
- Whenever there is emotionally intensity, it signifies that historical feelings and/or experiences are being triggered by current events.
- Intensity communicates to others that our needs, concerns, or disappointments are not being validated.
- When we are discounted, our natural reaction is to fight for our rights rather than enter into reasonable and rational conversations that balance our ability to think about our feelings as well as feel about our thinking.
Intensity is a by-product of:
- Un-resolved trauma (i.e., we weren’t loved well) expressed through our pain in feeling shame, insecurity, guilt, or believing that everything is wrong with me.
- Fear (i.e., failure to meet expectations, rejection of thoughts and feelings, abandonment by someone leaving physically or emotionally, fear unto death where someone else is going to die or I’m going to die or I feel emotional despair) marked by thinking catastrophically, becoming anxious, or becoming controlling and angry.
- Self-Absorbtion is marked by being egocentric or prideful, believing nothing is wrong with me, being selfish and self-centered which ultimately causes one to walk by others who are in pain. The more self-absorbed a person is, the more ego-centric they are, the more unresolved pain they have, the more trauma they have in their life that they haven’t addressed, and the more afraid they are (but they’re not willing to deal with it).
If you have two people who are engaging in drama, it creates an unsafe but familiar environment where, even if it’s bad, we don’t want to step out of the familiar because it’s what we know. The law of familiarity states that I’m attracted to what I’m familiar to even though it’s unhealthy. We have to choose to want to work on our issues and undergo the process of growth and change.
Drama-proofing your life requires asking these questions:
- Are you committed to growth and change?
- Do you really want to be healthy?
Although there are true victims who are robbed or forced to do something against their will, generally speaking, people are volunteers because they aren’t willing to take responsibility. The three things Ray Kane measures when he works with people is: 1) willingness, 2) heart & 3) responsibility. Are they willing to engage their heart and take responsibility. If these factors are not present, an individual is not ready to be healthy and will continue to create drama.
What if only one of you is willing to enter the path of growth? Jesus didn’t play into the drama patterns. He was always outside the drama triangle because he took responsibility for his own behavior. When we’re in a drama, we generally feel powerless. Jesus’ power (how he stayed out of the drama) is that he took truth from the father and acted with:
- wisdom and discernment
- a heart of love and respect (Love is a feeling, Respect is how you show it.)
Truth, communicated with wisdom, discernment, love, respect and humility is what real power is.If you have a family or work environment where you are committed to be like Christ in being centered and healthy, then the Lord will give you wisdom and discernment with how to set boundaries and how to even stay in a relationship that’s difficult. (If it’s abusive, that’s a whole other ball game.) If it’s not abusive, you take yourself out of the drama by choosing to be healthy and desiring to be more like Christ.In healthy problem-solving:
- something happens
- skills are applied
- solutions are sought
- the outcome is evaluated
- the next action step is taken.
In unhealthy problem-solving (which is what dramas create):
- something happens
- the skills needed to solve the problem are missing
- there is no search for solutions
- feelings of anxiousness and insecurity lead to emotional flooding
- aggressive tactics like the ones below are applied in an attempt to restore emotional equilibrium and get someone else to deal with the problem
- using shaming, blaming, critical and judgmental language
- justifying a position
- playing the victim
- the drama becomes the new issue to be handled and the original problem takes a backseat to the drama that’s been created
We all haven’t been loved well. Because our parents weren’t loved well, we weren’t loved well, and we don’t love well. That’s a given. In our life, the unresolved pain where love didn’t exist (and where love needed to be) becomes an anchor that keeps us from being able to get up to full speed.
Either we’re moving towards Christ or away from Christ. The significant process of the Christian life is learning how to deal with pain because if we don’t transform our pain, we transmit it. And so we have to be willing to engage in a process of growth and change in order to want to be a healthy person, centered in Christ. When I become that person, I then can change my environment.
Skills vs Capacity:
- Capacity is how much energy I have in my tank to be able to use problem-solving skills to resolve an issue. Capacity will either come from my ego or from my faith. If there is a true heart’s desire to want to connect with Christ in an intimate way, Christ can help to heal the traumas of the past and, as Christ is present in the midst of those traumas, Jesus connects and attaches with the person who is hurting to increase their capacity. That is what it means to be connected with Christ in an intimate way and to experience the fullness of healing when we experience pain.
- Healthy faith is able to take truth, communicate it with wisdom, discernment, and a heart of love and respect because I’m not preoccupied with trying to look good. Jesus’ power came with his humility, purity and ability to speak the truth.
Over-functioning and Under-functioning Relationships:The over functioning person that wants intimacy and connection more than the under-functioning individual tends to put more energy towards and into inviting the other person who is under-functioning to step up. It’s like spinning your wheels, you feel like a gerbil in a gerbil cage. You have to change-up the dynamic.In a healthy relationship, both individuals need to want intimacy at the same level. Growing towards that ideal means committing to:
- having a more intimate relationship emotionally
- learning how to communicate our needs, feelings and pain
- to learn how to listen, hear and understand
If the under-functioning individual is hesitant to commit to this, then the person is more interested in having you pursue him than he is in allowing himself to be vulnerable. We can invite people into healthy relationships but, if they are unwilling to do so, we need to be willing to move on and allow the other person to do the same.Can you allow yourself to see your character-disordered person as a gift? We like to see them as the generator of our pain, but they are not. The Lord has us in this place, otherwise we would be someplace else. It is God’s will that we be where we are at right now.Five questions to ask yourself to find out why the drama you are in is a gift:
- What is it that I can learn about myself?
- What insecurities is it raising inside of me that I need to bring to Christ?
- What skills might I need to acquire to be able to set appropriate boundaries?
- How might I need to learn how to communicate my needs, feelings and pain in more efficient ways?
- How might this experience enable me to develop a much deeper intimacy with Christ?
Recap:Healthy problem solving requires a particular set of skills. With unhealthy problem-solving, those skills are missing. We compensate because we want emotional equilibrium.If I’m not growing by dealing with my pain (which is caused by shame, insecurity or guilt) or dealing with my fears of failure, rejection, and abandonment, then I’m going to compensate by using my ego to be able to counterbalance the insecurity so therefore I become reactive. Reactivity means that I’m being defensive. Defensiveness means that I’m denying a problem exists, discounting and dismissing what others have to say, projecting and making the problem someone else’s as I justify my position, play the victim, and perpetuate the problem by causing the unresolved problem to be buried.If we become reactive and start pointing a finger, there are still four pointing back at us.
When I am willing to deal with my trauma, to deal with my fear, to not be driven by my ego but learn to become more humble, then I can be reflective and take ownership of my thoughts and feelings by expressing a desire to humbly confess my wrongdoings and turn from my bad habits to pave the way for negative patterns to be buried dead.If we’re triggered, it’s about our pain. There’s a point at which God hardens someone’s heart, but as long as we’re working on our pain, then we become a safer person to tell someone else that we would like them to work on theirs.
To listen to or download this or other episodes that Ray Kane has presented on Moody Radio’s Midday Connection program, click on one or more of the links below:
Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 1
Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 2
Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 3
Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 4
Drama-Proofing Your Life Part 5
View All Midday Connection Episodes with Guest Ray Kane