(This is an “oldie but goodie” that went out in the Dragontree newsletter 15 years ago.)
Part of The Dragontree’s mission statement is, “To seed our community with centered, peaceful, and healthy people.” For those who wish to actively pursue this goal, one of the most challenging and life-changing assignments is a “drama fast.” We suggest you try it for single day to begin.
Our social programming, through family, community, and media, teaches us some useful things – such as how to relate to other people and be productive in the world – and some not so useful things – such as how to generate and spread drama. The world tells us in many ways that there is something to be gained by dramatizing our life circumstances. You can feel the energy in it. So, the idea of a life without the drama might sound boring or even inhuman. But in most cases the dramatization of reality (which often means focusing on conflict) degrades our experiences.
The true and rich facts of our lives are rendered into black and white through dramatization. We lose resolution and gain resistance and negative judgment. Perhaps more detrimental than the negative judgement is the way our dramas disempower us by causing us to surrender our vision and power of choice.
Our greatest, most fundamental power is to choose our point of view about life. Our lives, no matter how great or tragic by society’s standards, are ultimately only ours to judge. If you’ve ever met a person who is simply imperturbable, who’s able to stay hopeful and positive no matter what, you’ve known someone who fully embraces their power of choice.
For any given situation, we can choose a wide range of viewpoints. The situation doesn’t dictate our response. These viewpoints can be distilled to three basic categories:
- A point of view that acknowledges the facts and remains completely neutral
- A point of view that degrades our or others’ experience of the situation (e.g., by subtracting personal power and adding blame, resentment, shame, victimization, guilt, etc.)
- A point of view that enhances the situation for oneself and/or others (e.g., by spotting opportunity, expressing gratitude, remaining open, etc.)
The purpose of a drama fast is to promote the choice of viewpoints that fall into categories one and three.
Every human has the ability to regard whatever life brings us in an inner atmosphere of light – meaning, illumination, weightlessness, and clarity. This isn’t to say we should never experience sadness or anger, but that we can experience these emotions without shutting down or letting them override our power of choice. Experienced in our inner light, negative thoughts and emotions don’t damage us, and the natural impulse of contraction they tend to cause is usually brief and followed by an expansion.
Taking a fast from drama is about responsibility (not blame) – owning the way you shape your own experience of life and the effect you have on others. We don’t usually consciously intend to degrade our experiences, but the urge to be dramatic is sometimes so insidious we don’t notice it. It frequently arises when things don’t go the way we want them to (whether it’s simply the flow of our day or the overall socio-politco-environmental trajectory of the planet). While disappointment feels like an energetic slump, turning it into a drama – even if it means we’re the victim – brings a certain dynamism to it and makes it a better story that enrolls us and others.
During a drama fast, try to catch yourself falling in this habit and focus your attention instead on being a master of cleanness (stick to the facts, don’t share dirt), focusing on the good, and finding solutions. Though it may not always seem possible, the simplest solution is to just let it go. Letting go of an upset isn’t always a matter of saying, “I’m letting this go,” and then you’re done with it permanently. You must be committed to letting it go. If you notice you’ve picked up the upset again, just purposefully let it go again without analyzing it. It’s not just a benefit to you; it’s actually a valuable community service.
Drama is often used to identify unfavorable things about others to either help us feel superior by comparison, or to distract others from noticing our own flaws. But have you noticed that the folks who never engage in drama tend to exude calm and confidence? While one might think that the calm and confidence are a prerequisite to not being dramatic, it’s really a choice anyone can make at any time: “I choose not to degrade my own – or others’ – experiences.”
Fasting from drama means changing your inner conversation, noticing when you’re indulging in drama, and choosing cleanness again. The same goes for outer conversations. Before you share, you can always ask yourself, is it true? is it necessary? is it kind? And finally, what is my purpose?
What can you do when conversing with someone who is “revving up the drama”? If you feel you can’t be in their presence without getting wrapped up in it, you may just have to excuse yourself. While it may feel unsupportive, staying and validating or even feeding their drama won’t really serve them.
If you’re up for staying, you can enhance the situation compassionately. Here are some approaches to try:
- What happens when you become a neutralizing container for their experience, listening without feeding it?
- What happens when you practice being the embodiment of calm clarity?
- What happens when you remind them of their power to choose their perspective?
- When happens when you gently ask them to give you the facts without any interpretation?
- What happens when you simply see them as their highest Self, rising above this story?
- What happens when you remind and redirect them to the path they were on before the drama derailed them?
Imagine how the world could change if we practiced this. Let’s all do this for a single day. If you like how it goes, consider devoting another day.