Does the world around you feel chaotic? Are you having a hard time knowing how to handle certain challenges that are coming up in your life? Often when situations are escalated, we can quickly become overwhelmed and feel as though we don’t know where to start or what to handle.
This is because drama pulls us out of the receptive spirit God calls us to live in. It makes it difficult to hear God’s voice and cooperate with his will. We’re so busy living in reaction to the drama-causing events and people that it sometimes doesn’t even occur to us to ask God what to do. The Theology of The Body reminds us of the importance of resisting the impulse to get caught up in our drama: that, even in the middle of the drama, it’s important to cultivate receptivity, the ability to step out of the craziness that’s happening around us, center ourselves in God’s grace and respond (rather than react) to what’s happening in a loving, responsible way that glorifies God, works for our good and the good of the people around us.
Here are a few ways to ensure we are responding with a receptive spirit:
1. Take a Dramatic Pause–When the drama is mounting, we’re often tempted to try to get control of what’s going on around us, and that’s what pulls us in. Don’t jump into the drama. Instead, take a dramatic pause. Mentally take a step back and look inside yourself. Offer up a quick prayer. Ask God to give you peace and perspective. Ask for the grace to respond to this situation rather than reacting to it. Then think, “Where do I want this situation to go? What do I need to do to move it in that direction? What do I need to do to protect myself and the people I care about from the drama?” THEN and only then are you ready to act. When drama strikes, the best way to get control of the situation, is to reclaim your sense of self control.
2. Get the Other Person Back “On Book”–When actors forget their lines, they are said to be “off book.” When people are creating drama, they’ve forgotten how to be their best selves. After reclaiming control of ourselves, the next thing to do get them back “on book” that is, remind them of healthier ways to deal with the situation they are creating drama about. Don’t criticize their behavior. Instead, help them refocus on solutions rather than their reactions. Don’t say, “Calm down.” or “You’re really overreacting” Say, “Listen, I really want to help but you’re just lashing out right now. Can you focus on what we can do to make this better? What’s the next step you can take to make this better?” Try to help the person creating the drama refocus on solutions and reminding them that you’re here to help.
3. End the Scene—Remember, it is not your job to save other people from their own drama. You should do what you can to be helpful, but if they resist your efforts, get worse, or lash out, the best thing you can do is end the scene. When a person is too seriously caught up in their own drama, anything you say or do can and will be used against you. Although it might feel like you’re being insensitive, the best thing to do is to say something like, “I want to help, but the most important thing you can do right now is take some time to pray about this and think about what you want to do to try to make this situation a little better. Let me know when you’re ready to do that and I promise I’ll be here.” Then, find a way to make a graceful–or if necessary, abrupt–exit. If you can’t redirect someone who is in drama, the most loving thing to do is to refuse to contribute to it, even if that means withdrawing. If the person continues to try to draw you back in, suggest places they can turn for more professional support, and encourage them to turn to those resources. If they are serious about seeking help, they will be grateful for the suggestions. But if they are just interested in creating more drama, it would be better for you to step out as gracefully as you can.
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