It is my experience that people who wrestle with anxiety and chronic fear are often accused of creating drama, or in some way making too much of their fears and worries.  I know from my own life that even close friends would imply, gently, that maybe I was taking things too seriously – that I needed to “just relax” and “not worry so much.”  I get, now, that they weren’t trying to dismiss me or patronize me, not really.  They just couldn’t get why I was so worried, so stressed, so anxious, so worked up over what seemed to them to be minor things, or concerns I appeared (to them) to be manufacturing for the sake of having something to worry about.

The irony of this is that most of us who wrestle with anxiety and fear don’t have much real interest in drama for its own sake.  If anything people who are dealing with this stuff would like nothing more than to surrender the sense of drama in their lives.  We don’t get up in the morning and say “well, my life isn’t interesting or dramatic enough – how can I rev myself up?  I know, I’ll find something to really worry about, get myself good and anxious – THAT’S going to make the day way more fun.”

No, we don’t set out to do that.  If you don’t struggle with anxiety on a regular basis then you almost certainly don’t get how draining, tedious and frustrating it can be.  No, that isn’t something we are setting out to do!  We who are anxious and fearful are doing battle with a drama queen in our own bodies and minds – our Comfort Zone, which is in turn firing up our Flight or Fight Reflex. 

Life With a Drama Queen

It was my friend Cindy who first suggested this metaphor to me.  The notion immediately hit me as I thought about it – it is a great comparison.  I’m betting that you have someone in your life who plays the role of Drama Queen.  This is someone who turns everything into a crisis.  It isn’t just that the soup burned on the stove – the soup burning has RUINED dinner, and RUINED the evening, and it is AWFUL that the soup burned.  It isn’t just that the presentation to the client wasn’t perfect, it was a DISASTER because they weren’t blown away by the presentation, and now there will NEVER be any business with this client, and EVERYONE will think this presentation was a botched job, and you’ll be labeled a LOSER.  That’s life with a Drama Queen.

Drama Queens assume the worst – it isn’t just bad, it’s horrible, it isn’t just bad now, it will be bad forever!  There are other qualities of Drama Queens that make our lives miserable.  They don’t really seem to listen to us when we try to calm them down.  They shout us down, tell us we’re wrong, because they FEEL so bad, so certain it will all end in ruin.  Yet they won’t leave us alone, won’t take their drama someplace else – no, they have to pour it on us!  And this is just what the Comfort Zone does to us.  Our fears and worries start to shout at us, and when we try to shout them down in response, or run away, they just keep harassing us.  It FEELS so urgent, FEELS so upsetting and bad, that we get caught up in the drama. 

You Don’t Have to be the Prisoner of Your Comfort Zone Drama Queen…

Notice that I’m not saying YOU are a Drama Queen.  Because the truth is you’re not.  The Drama Queen is your Comfort Zone – the set of rules and beliefs that have grown up in your thinking as you’ve moved through your life.  That is the tendency of our Comfort Zones – to project indefinite negatives from our experience in the present moment, based on our fears. It is the fuel for our certainty that things HAVE to be this way or that way, or otherwise it will be a disaster – this is how the Comfort Zone can be with us.  If it doesn’t conform to what my rules and beliefs about safety then it is horrible, too terrible to think about, scary as hell, etc.  That is a Drama Queen/Comfort Zone response.

And just like with real-life Drama Queens, if you want to get free of the drama, you have to face into the worry and anxiety, and challenge it!  It isn’t easy.  Drama Queens never are.  Drama Queens are reactive, just like the Comfort Zone.  They are creatures of the immediate knee-jerk response, just like the Comfort Zone.  They turn problems (challenges that require thinking, work and time to resolve) into crises (immediate physical danger) – just like the Comfort Zone.  And they will ruin your day with their trauma and drama if you don’t confront them and unplug the crisis!

You’ve GOT to Unpack the Problem From the Crisis!

Here’s a little reminder of the heart of the Fear Mastery thinking: we are creatures that turn problems into crises.  We don’t set out to do this to ourselves.  It is just that we learn to be afraid or anxious about a situation, issue or concern in our lives, and we start to respond to it out of our Flight or Fight Reflex.  But a problem CAN’T be a crisis.  A problem is something that you have to think about, think through, make a plan for and then work at resolving.  That’s hard and scary, because if we’ve spent much time making that problem into a crisis then we have to wade through the attending physical and emotional warning signals that the Comfort Zone is sending our way, trying to warn us away from dealing with this problem-turned-crisis in our thinking.

AND we have to deal with our minds not working as sharply or well during that initial facing into the fear, because, well, you don’t need much of your mind to run or fight in a crisis, at least not the ones we evolved to face back in the good old days on the plains of Africa.  And we’ve become very good at flinching away from the things that scare us in our thinking.  This takes some work, and it is often tedious, exhausting and not much fun.  But then, dealing with Drama Queens rarely is fun…

But it is something any of us can do, this work of facing our fears.  And the payoffs are everything we want them to be, including a huge sense of relief as we reduce our anxiety and get some distance from the drama.  I will talk more about that in my next post.  Know from this post that you don’t have to continue the cycle of drama in your own thinking.  You can confront your own personal Drama Queen and face the things that make you afraid/anxious/worried.