Yesterday’s post about poison in our lives, for whatever reasons, caused me to make a leap to putting out fires in our lives. We have all had situations that erupt in violent flames or simmer forever….. but what do we do about it?
There are times when I find that individuals come at me (at work or in my personal life) with such emotional force behind them that I feel as though I am trying to put out a forest fire with a squirt gun – have you ever had that feeling? I see it coming too and am so frustrated when I cannot escape. There are people who can be highly emotionally involved that seem to thrive on high levels of drama – filled with crying, screaming, and a plethora of random physical gestures. I must say, drama is not something I enjoy. I can handle drama in children, as it becomes a wonderful teaching moment to help them learn to handle their emotions in more beneficial and productive ways.
However, drama in adults is a bit harder to tolerate, particularly because adults are far less willing to learn more productive ways to process their emotions. I wrote a post quite a while ago entitled, “Why People Won’t Heal”. In this post I talked about the fact that there are people who refuse to heal because they believe their wounds are the ultimate currency that buys them attention……. so how do we put out fires in our lives?
I have found a few things that help.
- Do NOT fuel the flames. Do not engage, do not correct, do not say a word – no matter how tempting it may be. We want to correct people when they are not seeing reality as we do, we want to calm them down and to make them feel better, but this will often feed the patterns of drama that exist. Also, as we look to pacify, we are actually encouraging future behavior as we are reinforcing drama as a vehicle to obtain attention.
- Do NOT engage – if you feel you are in the midst of that drama with only a squirt gun to put out the larger fire, walk away. Make up an excuse and disappear – you do not need to suffer so that someone else can enjoy their emotional release.
- Tell the person that you love/like them too much to argue with them. Use this as a mantra, practice the “broken record” technique and say it over and over and over again until they let up and move on.
- Remind yourself that this too shall pass – no matter how uncomfortable the situation is, it will eventually be over.
- Prevention is the best treatment – if you have a friend or acquaintance that is prone to drama, ask yourself what limits you want to place on your relationship with them in order to maintain healthy boundaries for yourself.
Today, 239 days ’til 40, I will remind myself that I need to take care of myself and not get pulled into someone else’s drama, particularly unarmed. I will not stand for being placed in situations where I am forced to fight emotional forest fires with squirt guns.
I hope you will stand up for yourself too!