The Death of Drama
by Jake Block
There comes a time when you have to make a conscious choice to either entertain or disassociate from things that contribute to the stress in your life and help yourself return to a sense of what the Japanese call “Wa,” or internal harmony. We might call it “bliss” or we might call it “contentment,” but by whatever name we employ, it implies a rejection of stress in favor of placidity of mind, especially stress that is externally imposed upon us.
Now, those who seek to impose their stress upon us usually do it unwittingly, and without malice, assuming that we are a part of their life, and therefore would want to know what drama and trauma they face on a daily level. They don’t understand that in doing so, they add to those stressors that we already have and, if you are like me, tend to keep to ourselves. Scales of balance tip with each added weight and eventually one loses their sense of balance and their sense of “wa,” until they reach a state of what Native Americans call “koyaanisqatsi,” or “life out of balance.”
Many people thrive on what they call “stress,” and in actuality, what they are relating is pressure to perform, as in the case of the type A personality who thrives under the “pressure” of deadlines and performance expectations. Some people can and do fair well in this situation, as I did in my role in corporate life. But this is quite different than personal stress and anxieties in ones life that can have sometimes severe effects on one’s personal health and mental functions. Stress can be recognized in several aspects of one’s life, and symptoms psychologists look for fall into categories of the cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral aspects. Some symptoms are:
Physical: Memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgement, seeing only the negative, anxious or racing thoughts and constant worrying.
Emotional: Moodiness, irritability or short temper, agitation, inability to relax, feeling overwhelmed, sense of loneliness and isolation, depression or general unhappiness.
Physical: Aches and pains, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, loss of sex drive, frequent colds.
Behavioral: Eating more or less, sleeping too much or too little, isolating yourself from others, procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities, using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax, nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing, etc.)
Now, there comes a time when we all have to make a decision on just how much we are going to allow the world around us, the people around us, and even our general situations to negatively affect our personal health and well being. If you are human, you live with your own stressors, and we learn to cope with a certain level of that stress. If you take on the problems of friends and family, you take on stressors that are not yours to bear, and the cumulative effects can be damning for your personal health. We all have to, at some time, decide that we need to protect ourselves and limit the negative inputs to our lives that others feel are simply “complaints we all have and share.” True that might be, but there comes a tipping point at which they weigh negatively upon your psyche. This is where the “unwellness” of thought can affect you negatively and become just another stressor you must fend against.
Time is your ally and time is the enemy, dependent on how you use it. There are friends who will use your time wisely and enhance your life, and there are friends who will, innocently or not, use you as their personal support system and confide in you every negative aspect, every sleight, every pain and discomfort. While it may seem drastic and it may seem unfair, and it certainly will feel that way to those who are toxic to your health and well-being, there will come a time when you must distance yourself from them and no longer be available for the dramas and traumas of their lives, freeing your psycho-cybernetic system to handle those stressors that are rightfully yours to bear.
You shouldn’t look at it as cutting someone off or out of your life, but regaining a measure of control in your own life that you had surrendered. Those who really care about you will understand that you’ve taken steps to control those stressors that rightfully belong to someone else, and if they wish to remain part of your circle of friends and acquaintances, will modify their interactions with you to allow you to give yourself a chance to heal and rebalance your emotional and psychic states. (You’ll often find them most active when you are, yourself, in ill health or experiencing setbacks in your life.) Those who find your moves toward self-healing and maintenance a threat to them in some way or fashion only show their true colors, which they would have done in any case, providing proof to you that your instincts were right in the first place.
An old meme states, “It’s not really paranoia if they actually ARE out to get you!” Now, this isn’t to say that those who will find ways to draw you into the endless fray of their daily lives are malicious and personally marked you for their tail-less donkey in some personal pinning game. It’s just your turn, as it has, most likely been for each and every one of their “friends” in the past, and will be the future of those they select as time goes by. They will usually choose wisely, finding those who will listen and give them solace against the multitude of “slings and arrows” that seem to besiege them day and night. They’ll always be “misunderstood,” “misquoted,” “mischaracterized,” or “misinformed” for some reason that they will always be overwhelmed by and need to come to others to rehash the rehashed trauma they currently are vexed by. Soon, though, like the little boy who cried “wolf,” others soon disregard their bleating, until a time comes when they ARE in dire straits, and no one pays them any mind.
We all tend to want to help our friends in need, but when they become problematic and a stressor in our lives, rather than the nurturing cohorts we would all love to have and cherish, it becomes incumbent upon us to take action to protect ourself and our personal sense of “wa” in separating from unnecessary stressors and those who would inflict them upon us.
Remember: “Konnichi wa gokiken ikaga desu ka?” (How are you feeling today?) is a greeting, and not a question one answers in detail!