I am lounging after hiking a few miles. I’m sitting on a blue chair on a wood platform over looking a beach on a lake.
The sun is out and it is about 58 degrees and getting warmer by the minute. There is just the hint of a breeze and the waves are very gently massaging the beach.
I hiked with my love Sharon. Initially, our conversation was all over the place, or so it seemed.
I made random jokes and shared stream of conscious witticisms about people out ‘shitting their dogs’ and crows laughing at us for walking when it was only 46 (then). (it made me laugh. Sharon put up with it.) 😉
Eventually, our conversation came around to the topic of control dramas.
A week or so back, maybe/probably longer, maybe closer to two weeks?
My memory for time and dates gets worse and worse as I live more and more in the present.
We had spent a day, something of a ‘day date’, that could have gone better. It could have gone worse. In retrospect, it might have been just what we each needed!
During the outing, we had engaged in control dramas. I’m not going to share the details of the private conversation nor the dramas used.
Control dramas include four different roles that people might ‘play’ in interpersonal relationship dynamics.
These are roles that people do not play all the time. These roles are not healthy for relationships.
However, people in all sorts of relationships, work, personal, love, family, and more play these four roles. (Some schools of thought offer more than just four.)
The four control dramas that predominate and those that I am most familiar with are the following:
- The ‘Poor Me’
- The ‘Aloof’ person
- The ‘interrogator’
- The ‘Intimidator’
Some people are totally stuck in just one of these roles all the time. Some people bounce in and out of a couple depending on who they run into.
Often times if someone plays out one role, then a person that engages with them, will find themselves being nudged into another role.
When a person acts aloof, hides the truth or hides the full truth or plays hard to get, or acts mysterious, a person that encounters this might find themselves behaving like an interrogator, asking lots and lots of questions. The aloof person might keep up the drama by finding aloof ways to never fully open up and share, triggering more questions.
It becomes a vicious cycle of two people competing, stressing to take energy away from the other, and ‘WIN’ the conversation either by keeping something hidden or by exposing the thing that was hidden.
There are many ways and scenarios these things can work themselves out.
The best way to stop a person from playing the role of a control drama (and taking our energy or manipulating us) is to simply expose the control drama to them and if we played a control drama role our self, acknowledge what we were doing.
It becomes very difficult for someone to keep ‘acting’ out a control drama once the sham, the act, of the drama is exposed.
Many people are very unaware of the control dramas they play out. They may resist or be defensive when exposed. They may try to switch to a different role until at the end of the encounter, both parties are simply being themselves and not being aggressive, or they go their separate ways taking a temporary time out from each other or maybe a permanent time out.
So we found and caught ourselves in one of these scenarios. We stopped and took a timeout from it and each other.
Today, during the hike, we were able to talk about it and find new ways to move forward aware of our tendencies and careful not to slip back into this behavior.
We also then grew the conversation and had a very cool conversation about control dramas that we have experienced with others.
One of the topics that came up early in the hike was whether or not it was the right thing to do to totally avoid people in control dramas, people with issues, people that are stuck, people that are not conscious and working on their inner issues.
There are a number of memes out there that hint that. ‘We should keep toxic people out of our lives’ or that we should stay away from negative people. The idea is that w if we surround ourselves with only positive, smart, happy, beautiful people, we will find that we and our lives are full of just positives, smartness, happiness, beauty and all the good things in life.
This concept lacks empathy and compassion.
It also indicates that the key to happiness is exorcising unhappy things from the world.
Don’t like your spouse or significant other?
Don’t like your job or career?
Don’t like your kids or your parents?
Send them to an orphanage or the old folks home.
Don’t like your friends?
Never return their calls and have nothing to do with them.
Obviously, I have taken this to an extreme. This is the outside limit of this ‘theory’ and it is obviously a flawed theory.
Now, there are many reasons someone might be unhappy, ugly, negative, or in a bad place.. It does not mean they are devoid of any potential and deserve to be labeled, banished, shunned, kicked to the curb, voted off the island, thrown out the air lock, walk the plank, removed from the gene pool, etc.
Sometimes people are in this ‘less than’ place because we or people just like us, sucked out all their energy and positivity and left them for dead.
If you keep encountering wonderful people, only to have a friendship or relationship with them and encounter or discover a few months later that the person is not who you thought they were at all, that they are actually ugly, negative, mean, angry, very wounded and hurt…
Well, maybe it’s because we made them that way. Maybe we took that cute little puppy and turned it into a scared, wounded and rabid dog.
Never fear, there is hope for all of us.
Whether you have been wounded or are doing the wounding or whether you are fine, and become wounded only to then wound others to survive, we can break out of these cycles.
We can pierce the veil of the control dramas that we get sucked into. We can pop the bubble and let the fog and smoke that filled the bubble dissipate and see again with clarity.
Once we are clear, we can engage or re-engage with those around us in a healthy manner.
We do not have to suck their positivity, their energy away from them. We do not have to ‘control’ them through a drama to survive.
We do not have to let them control us through a drama either, letting them sap us of our vital energy to be good, healthy, productive happy people who other people want to be around!
We simply need to 1) become aware of what is happening in our relationships and interpersonal dynamics and
2) when an unhealthy dynamic starts up in the form of a control drama, we need to expose it and stop it and
3) if we can’t stop it, then, this is the point where we have to remove ourselves from the person that refuses to stop playing the ‘controlling’ drama.
We can show people compassion by being there for them. We can empathize with people when they are hurt or wounded or ailing or sick whether that is physical, emotional or mental.
We do not have to fall victim to them.
Just because they are drowning, it does not mean that we have to swim out to them and let them claw their way to the surface while shoving us under.
We simply need to be aware and train our selves ‘how to save a person from drowning’ while protecting ourselves from the same.
So as Sharon and I finished our hike, we found ourselves down on the beach that I am now looking at.
We were having a great conversation by this time.
I was getting restless. I started picking up trash and debris and Sharon joined in.
The lake had washed up some plastic from bottles, some construction wood, even a few tennis balls that some awesome doggy had probably lost off a boat or a dock further up stream.
We gathered the trash and put it int the trash can by the beach. We deposited the drift wood in a pile set for a bon fire. We picked up more and more until there was no debris on the beach.
All the while we continued this conversation about control dramas, until we came upon this perfect real-life example of a control drama that seemed like it was a Poor Me person sucking someone in.
The response had been to avoid the conversation and the person and the dynamic. This had saved the person being approached from being in the control drama.
But the Poor Me person kept coming back from more.
They would not relent.
That was when it suddenly became clear.
By avoiding. The person and NOT pointing out the Poor Me control drama, the act of ‘avoiding’ was actually an act of playing out the Aloof Control drama.
The person was coming back over and over because they were being sucked in by an aloof drama. They knew that control dramas could be played here. We were open for control drama business!
The Aloof responses were an invitation, playing hard to get, ‘Hey, here’s our control dram, what is yours? Do you want to. Play control drama? We like Drama’
That was the unintentional message being communicated.
We talked this out and saw it for what it was. It was an amazing revelation.
Ignoring the person. Or shunning them or removing. Negative people. From our lives is not the answer.
That is simply the fish hook to reel them in, and make them chase us and bring their own control drama game to us, whenever they find an opening.
Ignoring negative people. Does not make us more positive,, it attracts more negative people to mess with us.
Instead, we need to expose the drama and prevent the drama and not allow the drama to be played in our interpersonal relationships.
This is the solution.
We do not want to chase negative people away, we want to prevent people from controlling us with play acting control dramas with us.
Now, I’m just basking in the. Sun, enjoying a Guiness extra stout, listening to the waves, watching Sharon dance about with her freshly painted toe nails and soaking in this lesson and sharing it with whomever might be interested or ready to hear it.
It took me close to 26 years to be able to do something useful with lessons about Control Dramas. Maybe as you read this, you will recognize that you are already avoiding control dramas in a healthy way by piercing the bubble. Maybe you will find opportunity to improve your game and try harder or try something new.
Maybe like me, you will find an epiphany here, but require twenty five years of study and re study before you get around to being able to do something useful about this in actual conversations with people controlling you or their relationships with you.
That is ok, as long as we all eventually improve!
Whether it took you 5 years or fifty or whether you. Are still working on it and whether it takes you another fifty, knowing and trying will help you get there. I am confidant.
When or if you get there, it will make this world a better happier place and I am happy to have you as part of. My life and part of this world we share.