"To see your drama clearly is to be liberated from it." – Ken S. Keyes Jr.
A finger jabs at thin air, his voice hammers out its staccato rhythm and a torrent of self- justification rushes out.
Adrenaline is pumping; he can hardly hear the woman in front of him as she screams her venomous reply and empties the glass of water in his face. A door slams and for a moment all is quiet as the man indulges his wounds in a toxic cocktail of anger and pain.
Outside of this make-belief world, I look around the living room and notice that it has turned silent as every one of us is sucked into the drama unfolding before us on the flickering silver screen of the TV.
Drama, so enticing! Viewed on a TV programme, drama is just a few moments entertainment which soon fades from memory but when we create personal dramas in real-life the consequences can be much more damaging.
The trouble is that drama can be so seductive
As we start to create it we can feel the adrenaline pulsing through our veins, we can sense the hope, the fear, the grasping and before we know it we can find ourselves on a drama fuelled roller coaster.
The experience can be an enticing break from the monotonous routine of daily life. Unfortunately, just a few short turns from those first few thrilling moments and we can find ourselves overcome by bitterness, depression and the black hole of hopelessness. It can be almost like an addiction, with the dramatic high followed by the inevitable come-down.
Watching the roller coaster
Like all things, drama is first created in the mind, it’s only later that we feed the drama by acting it out on those around us. What started as a little thought can soon become an all consuming fire that mercilessly destroys everything in its path. The solution is simple but not easy - the solution is awareness.
As soon as we become aware that we are creating drama in our minds we then have the choice to stop, simply by changing the thought. Without awareness we have no choice, we are blinded, we create drama and suffering and we react to the drama created around us.
With awareness, we can observe the twists and turns of the roller coaster without being thrown about by them. With awareness, creating drama becomes hard work and when others try to pull us into their own dramas, we can simply observe them unfolding without getting involved.
I think the key to developing awareness lies in noticing the seeds of drama as we create them in our mind. In my own experience, this often stems from a grasping to be right and make the other wrong, to justify my own position and to make the other person’s position or actions unjustifiable.
We can be very good at creating our own stories as to why we are right and the other person is so wrong. Those are the seeds of self-created drama – the stories we create which we then believe to be true.
Personally, I’ve noticed a very simple and effective way to become more aware of those seeds before they grow – for me it boils down to a single word. That word is YOU.
When I feel I’ve been wronged and I find myself excessively using the word YOU either in my mind or in conversation it’s a warning sign that I may have lost my balance, I may be starting to cast judgement and blame and creating my own personal drama.
That's not to say becoming aware of the word ‘you’ will work for everyone. The important thing is to notice the patterns that reoccur and to stop them before they have chance to develop their destructive power, whether that be a single word, an image or just a feeling.
It’s a process
Despite the simplicity of awareness, many times I fail to notice in time. Often it’s not until I’ve ridden the roller coaster to its bitter end that I realise the stories I’ve created and the emotional attachment I’ve granted them. Still, with practice, new habits can be developed.
A moment of awareness, a redirected thought and an effort to understand the situation as it really is rather than create a drama out of it can bring such peace of mind that I feel it is worth continued practice.
Image courtesy of AJU_photography