Relationship & Life Coaching Tip: How Do I Deal With Drama In My Relationships?
Laurie Ellington, Relationship Coach & Life Coach, Offers Coaching Tips to Help People Empower Their Life and Their Relationships
Drama can find its way into any kind of relationship. Many people are determined to avoid drama in their lives and in their relationships. They do whatever they can do to move around any emotionally charged situation in order to stay drama-free. The problem with this is that when we avoid emotionally charged situations, we tend to limit ourselves to our experience of how something should be, rather than how it really is. By focusing on how something should be, we miss out on what is happening in the moment. This limits our opportunity to create an alternative solution.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that anyone dive into an unhealthy situation and stay there. I’m a big fan of nipping unhealthy behaviors and situations in the bud sooner rather than later. I have learned, however, that there is a middle ground between diving deep into and being consumed by drama and avoiding it completely.
This middle ground is based on three principles:
- Get present with what’s happening in the moment,
- Find ways to express what’s happening in the moment,
- Express in a way that creates a connection with yourself and with others.
Time and time again, I see drama showing up in relationships as a direct result of what happens when we let emotional energy gets out of hand, either by expressing it in unhealthy ways or not expressing it at all. (Note: The energy can be positive or negative. For the purposes of this post, I’m choosing to address the perceived negative emotional energy).
Let’s consider two common scenarios:
Scenario # 1:
A couple has been struggling in their marriage for a long time. They are aware they have issues and these issues have created distance between them. Their attempts to address the issues have created conflict and misunderstanding. After multiple painful attempts, they enter into a perceived no-win situation and give up on the communication in order to maintain some level of peace. In choosing to avoid the perceived drama, they are choosing to silence their voices, silence their experience and silence themselves in the relationship. Over time, this build-up creates an intense amount of pain and suffering for everyone. At some point, the intensity cannot contain itself anymore. The emotional energy explodes and drama spews from all directions. The level of dramatic energy is too much for them to handle. This is where many couples either seek support in restoring their relationship or walk away completely.
A couple is just starting out dating and wants to explore everything together. At some point, one partner seems drawn to having some alone time. This person may shy away from voicing this desire for fear of hurting their partner. Their partner senses something has shifted in their partner’s energy but chooses not to address it. What tends to happen in this situation is that the couple begins to lose connection with each other. They become aware of their differences and soon their differences take charge of their experience and their relationship. This tends to happen more unconsciously than consciously. Unconsciously, they begin to blame their partner for not meeting their needs and not supporting what they want in their relationship. Again, the energy builds over time and can lead to an implosion or an explosion in the relationship.
So what’s an individual or couple supposed to do?
When I talk with my relationship coaching clients, I listen to their story. I ask specific questions. I gather information to get a better understanding of what is going on for them. With that base understanding, I look for ways to emotionally meet that person where they are and guide them to where they want to be. It looks something like this:
Create a safe place to communicate: Invite your partner to have a conversation. Get clear with yourself on your intention. Share your intention with your partner. Take a moment to reveal any feelings that are coming up for you in this act of inviting. Something like, “I’m aware that we need to talk about a few things. I imagine it will be challenging to address some of the issues we have even dealing with and the feelings we have been experiencing. I feel a bit nervous bringing this up because we seem easily triggered. I know it’s better to at least try to understand each other rather than avoid addressing what seems to be taking up so much space in our relationship. Would you be willing to set up a time for us to talk trough some of these things together?”
Practice speaking and practice listening: Consider setting a timer so that each person has a set period of time to speak and to listen. For example, Person A has 5 minutes to talk while Person B listens. Person A’s job is to speak what is coming up for them in the moment. Person A can report sensations, feelings, thoughts, emotions. Person B’s job is to listen as openly as possible, observing whatever thoughts and feelings they may be having, without doing anything about them. When the timer goes off, partners switch roles. Now it is Person B’s turn to talk and Person A listens. Person B now reports sensations, feelings, thoughts and emotions. Person A listens to Person B. Person A pays attention to thoughts, feelings, and judgments, and consciously chooses not to act on them. Partners may continue this exercise for a few rounds. Keep in mind, the intention is in the practice of speaking and listening. You may not solve anything at this time. What’s important here is to find the place in yourself where you can speak what is most vulnerable and you can hear what may be hard to hear. This is challenging work. It is in an exercise like this one, that we begin to see how much emotional energy we carry and what happens when it is released. The key is to find ways to release it without causing any more pain or suffering.
Find a way to connect with your partner in order to understand what it’s like to be them: When we practice speaking what’s true for us and listening to others doing the same, we begin to create more space in our field of awareness to see the bigger picture. Rather than see the person opposite us as someone to blame, we might begin to see that person as a human that is wanting to be seen, heard and validated for their experience. We may see that underneath the story and the drama is a need, a desire, to love and be loved. This shared reality opens the door to true understanding and compassion. This is what fuels connection and liberates us from the drama.
Remember: Take time to get present with what’s happening in the moment. Find ways to express what’s happening in the moment. Express in a way that creates a connection with others. Doing this, we allow ourselves to experience a new kind of relationship with ourselves and with others. With practice and awareness, we begin to see more clearly that we are in charge of the emotional dramas and the roles they play in our life, not the other way around.
For more information about how I can help you achieve your goals, contact me and let’s talk.
Latest posts by Laurie Ellington (see all)
- Laurie Ellington Relationships & Life Coaching Advice:“How To Shift a Negative Experience Into A Positive One Quickly And Powerfully” - June 15, 2017
- Life Coaching & Relationship Advice:Needs vs. Desires - May 10, 2017
- Relationship & Life Coaching Tip:How Do I Deal With Drama In My Relationships? - April 3, 2017