The last few days have brought my attention to control dramas. I am not going to define control dramas, but will point you in the right direction to quickly learn what I am talking about.
At a high level, a control drama is a way of trying to control someone else, specifically in a way that gives the controller energy taken from the person being controlled.
The ‘drama’ aspect of this hinges on the concept that the control is accomplished through an act of either being an Interrogator, an Intimidator, acting aloof and mysterious or playing the role of a ‘poor me‘.
I first learned about Control Dramas from reading a fiction book, sort of like a modern day Aesop’s Fables written to teach through fiction, called The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I highly recommend the book!
These are roles that can enter into personal dynamics if one or more people come from a family background where the different roles may have been recycled generation after generation. They are very very common.
They do not indicate a mental illness, more of a less optimal coping mechanism…
It’s common for a person to default to one, their dominant role. It is also possible that they might take on any of the other roles depending on the circumstances or group dynamics they find themselves in
Fast forward from what it is to what I have been focused on..
The concept of a control drama is based on the notion that a person that is not trying to control another, is able to build up their own energy without having to control or dominate the attention of others.
If we encounter a person acting out a control drama, the antidote is to name the drama, point it out to the person putting on the act. In ‘naming’ the drama and maybe how it is being used, it is possible to stop the actor from trying to use that process to control us, to drain us of energy, to feed off of our attention or more.
For the people that find themselves acting out these dramas, we need to work to be aware not to allow ourselves to fall into drama situations with others that are acting out a role. We too need to name the drama that we might be ensnared in. We also need to work to be self-aware not to act out our own dominant control drama.
Many of these were learned when we were children from our parents or others close to us. When we can spot our own behavior through awareness and we can end the drama that others might bring us into, we then have a chance of living and interacting with others as equals. We rely on our own ability to maintain our energy, to make ourselves happy and we let others do the same.
I find a lot of tie ins with the control drama concept and codependency, which also touches on controlling or manipulative behaviors. In a codependency situation we are not controlling or manipulating to make ourselves happy, we are reacting to people whose own challenges might be creating triggers and driving us to react in ways that we normally would not react. Their unbalance is driving us to react in an unbalanced way. We start to see their unbalance and react hoping to ‘balance them’, but that is a way of controlling them and not allowing them to find or not find their own means of finding balance.
When a codependent or two codependents in a relationship are also playing out control drama roles, things get amplified even more. Not only are the codependents (when there are two) trying to balance and control the other, but they are competing for the energy of the other through control.
Yipes! Things get messy quick!
I’ve done and am doing a lot of work to eliminate codependent reactions and bad learned habits from being a codependent from myself. In many ways, I’m finding this somewhat straight forward. We learn to live our own lives, not those that are close to us. We set boundaries with the people that are close to us, such that their challenges or issues do not cause us to react. We own our own shit and let them own theirs.
We want to be happy also. We want to be able to sustain our own happiness and be independent. We want to be able to exist in a healthy and balanced relationship in the future.
All of this means that we also need to take steps not to temporarily try on control dramas on purpose or accidentally through different situations.
Ok, so let me get real with some personal examples.
I have gone through some extra tough times this last year or so. I am confronting those tough times and doing my best to adapt and overcome my challenges. I have things I need to heal from, things I need to improve on, and many good things I need to grow even more.
When I go through tough times, as I did this last month. Money did not come easily this last month.
I need to avoid playing out control dramas. As I open up and get real with people sharing my truth, as this is important to me and that’s a whole other topic of conversation, I do not want to make the mistake of playing out the control drama of the ‘poor me’. I do not want to make people feel guilty for my troubles. I am not trying to elicit sympathy.
I do want to be open and honest and share with people what is important to me. Just because life is not going easily for me, it does not mean that I feel negative about how my life is going either!
I feel very positive. There is a difference in feeling negative about our adversity and feeling optimistic about our future in the face of adversity.
I feel very optimistic about my future. Sure, I would love for the adversity to lighten up a bit. But I do feel that things are and will get even better.
Still in a control drama, if I were to act it out, I might bemoan my circumstances too much and worse try and elicit sympathy or guilt from someone, hoping they might try to make me feel better (sending energy) to boost my spirits. That is controlling and manipulative and would leave a person feeling tired or drained after the experience.
This is not what I want to do.
Earlier today, a friend that I hadn’t spoken to in a a couple months asked me how I was doing. I mentioned that things were tough, but I had managed to pay my rent today and that I hoped that this would be less difficult in the future. I mentioned it in a chat comment. About a minute after I typed that, I was aware that this might almost sound like a ‘poor me’ kind of thing. It felt a little ‘whiny’ to me.
I most definitely did not want to whine nor start up a control drama situation trying to drain guilt or sympathy or something from the other person. I did want to be open and honest and real.
I replied again trying to point out the potential for misinterpretation of my comments as whiny. I went on to elaborate more. I realized that in my initial comment, I had been feeling a bit tired or weary and the comment ‘slipped out’. I may have almost reverted into the start of a poor me drama. I caught it just in time and pulled it back.
My friend went on soon after to point out a business opportunity that might be a good fit for my own company. I later went on a run and have been stewing on how I might do something useful with that since. 🙂
A few weeks back, I had a conversation with a friend that really helped me gain a better understanding on a number of things in my life last year. They had had major challenges of their own and like me, they were healing. When I ran into them and several other friends at the same time, the friend pulled me aside from the group and talked with me at great length.
I can’t quite place the drama that was being played out, but not only did I notice it, but so did some of my friends that were present and separated from me. I think this might have been either an interrogator or an intimidator monopolizing my time.
Now, I was more than willing to share with them and open up and have a conversation with them. 🙂 This was not against my will. Yet, I allowed myself to be singled out and pulled away from the group.
Something similar happened a few days ago with yet a different friend. I ended up allowing myself to be pulled into their drama. Again, I was more than willing to be there for them and engage.
the thing is that I am a recovering codependent. I am attracted (not necessarily a sexual attraction) to wounded people. The codependent in me wants to help the (find balance). This opens the door for me to want to help and if they are unknowingly playing out a control drama as well and I do not spot it and do not name it and thwart it, I realized I might allow myself to give more than I can afford, allow my energy to be drained a bit.
I absolutely do not feel any negative feelings towards my friends that helped me see this over the last few weeks. The situations gave me very clear examples to learn from as I was aware. I may or may not have been fast at learning the lessons, but I am learning!
I do want to be there for my friends. I want to be there for them in a way that is healthy for me and in a way that is healthy for them. 🙂
I need to build up my friendships. I need to reconnect with my existing friends more and build up more friendships with others.
I am a social person and having and maintaining and growing friendships is important to me. Healthy friendships are even more important to me.
I am not cutting loose or letting go of any existing friendships. This is most definitely not my way. I do not feel that the way to living a positive and happy life comes from cutting negative people out of our lives.
I feel the way to living a positive and happy life comes from cutting the negative feelings out of our own selves out of our own reactions to ourselves and our own negative reactions to those wonderful people that choose to be in our lives. Some of those people may have very big challenges. Some of them may be hurt or unhappy. I will probably not be able to help them fix themselves. I can be happy and a good friend and supportive as they figure out how to fix themselves on their own and without me cutting them loose and walking away from them. I need not abandon my friends that have challenges or issues.
So there is my thought for the day. This one is a work in progress. Its just a quick marker along the road that I am following. I’m working to better juggle my recovery from codependency. I do not see this as a negative. I see this as an evolution to a bigger positive.
I also am working to be self aware enough to insure that I do not engage in control dramas nor allow myself to get pulled into the control dramas of others.
I have big enough challenges keeping my own energy levels up, keeping my own momentum traveling a path of progress and certainly do not need to unwittingly allow people to suck my energy low or divert me from my path. This is something where I definitely do have a choice! I can choose to pay attention and prevent myself from losing energy to others or I can choose to blindly stumble into control dramas and live a very reactionary life. I can choose to let myself stumble through a control drama and right back into a codependent relationship if I am not careful.
I will be careful. I will be aware. I will also be aware enough not to foist my own control dramas on others and pull them off their own path.
This is not an easy thing. It is something that is possible.
I hope you will consider it more yourself. Raise your own awareness about your behaviors and the impacts of your behaviors on the people close to you. Are you accidentally draining the energy from people by unknowingly playing out control dramas of your own? Self awareness is a good place to start to fix and heal ourselves. I hope you will join in and work to make things easier and happier for yourself and the relationships you encounter! I know I will be working at it very very diligently. 🙂