30 May Living The Four Agreements: Drama Full to Drama Free
The first agreement, Be Impeccable With Your Word, is designed to minimize drama and stress and support truth and ease.
But, oh, sometimes drama can be so much fun!
Until it is not fun. At all.
Last night I taught a class on Drama-Free Living and Finding Inner Clarity, and we all agreed that there are different kinds of drama, including: drama that is enjoyable (like a play), drama that is not enjoyable (inner suffering), drama that is designed to get someone to pay attention (teacher working with kindergardeners), drama that creates connection (compassion), drama that creates distance (judgment/gossip).
Interestingly enough, the root word for drama come from a Greek word meaning “action” which is derived form the verb meaning “to do” or “to act.”
When we are consciously using drama, we are acting to get a result or because it is enjoyable.
For example, when I first started driving I would ride the clutch in my car (having one foot on the gas and one foot resting on the clutch) until a friend dramatically yelled at me, “GET YOUR FOOT OFF THE CLUTCH!” She told me later that she knew the only way to get my attention so I wouldn’t ruin my car was to be dramatic. It worked. The energy behind her statement and her passion were so strong I never rested my foot on a clutch again.
Two teachers talked about how important conscious drama was for them in getting and keeping their students attention. “If I just stated something important in a flat, monotone voice, they would never take it in,” one teacher shared. She consciously uses drama and her passion, drive, and enthusiasm to keep kids engaged or in her adult advocacy work.
And drama can be fun: going to a movie that evokes high emotion, or dancing dramatically on the dance floor with your partner is joyful entertainment.
Drama can also be incredibly harmful, even life-threatening. Imagine if the teachers of the children in the Oklahoma tornado had let their own fear spill over into uncontrolled drama. In an emergency, staying outwardly calm and collected, even if your own internal world is understandably dramatic, can save lives.
Uncontrolled inner drama is painful. Replaying the same story over and over again about how you or someone else should have done something differently, especially when woven with shame or blame or guilt or judgment (or all of the above!) can hurt as tangibly as cutting ourselves with a knife.
Inner drama drains our energy, resources, creativity, and enthusiasm. We can create massive drama by how we talk about anything: our bank account, or our relationship, or our job. This is one kind of drama we have power over; the ability to use our inner words self-soothe or self-freakout.
Our own drama is actually the only kind of drama we have any say over. It is impossible to stop someone else from their own drama if they aren’t interested or ready to let it go. True respect is honoring each person’s choice, and keeping our attention on our business: whether we are using our words internally or externally to increase drama and in suffering.
While we can’t fix others tendency towards drama and struggle, we can choose to create connection with others, even when they are in drama; or we can create separation. I’ve noticed there is a quality of presence with another that is suffering which supports intimacy. Words are secondary. This presence is a compassionate heart connection, devoid of distaste or trying to change someone. When we want someone to be different we either detach from them through our judgment, or we are constantly trying to help and fix. When we are simply willing to be with someone as they are, we do not pull back or lean forward; we stay deeply centered in ourselves, and our modeling helps them to find their own center.
This week: Watch the way you use your words, both to yourself and to others, to increase drama. Where do you judge, gossip, criticize, and escalate situations? Practice using your words to self-soothe, or calm yourself when your mind is heading down the trail of drama. Practice using your words (or your compassionate silence) with others to share your heart.
Heather Ash’s apprenticeship with don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, began in 1994, and she now teaches with the Ruiz family. She is the author of The Toltec Path of Transformation and founder of Toci, The Toltec Center of Creative Intent. www.toci.org