Daily emotional life can be painful. The snub. The really mean person. Someone else’s problem that you drop everything to solve. We think these dramas are caused by other people. But the truth is we create them ourselves–when we are too wound up in what we THINK should happen to pay attention to what is really going on.
I got wise to this recently while trying to figure out that most demanding of challenges-how to be happy with someone of the opposite sex. Having been raised in a very traditional upper Midwest family, I’ve been very good at figuring out what other people need and making sure I do what I can for them to get it since about age 10. Almost simultaneously, I became good at constructing stories in my head about why I didn’t get what I wanted…needed…deserved in the same way. By the time I started dating, both those strategies were entrenched.
I’ve made great progress in getting rid of most of these dumb ideas, but with a guy, I regress to “terminal unidirectional giving mode” by the end of the first date. It’s an unworkable approach: I end up feeling blue–about something I said, something he said, something I wanted to happen that didn’t, etc.–way too often. The “couple drama.”
At the moment, my goal is to become really good at living in the NOW. All this baloney I’ve been feeding myself about how men and women are supposed to relate is made of old, stale information that’s completely out of sync with that. What I need to do to relate well NOW to a man-or anyone for that matter–isn’t at all part of that old set of blueprints.
But knowing that mentally wasn’t enough. I needed to consciously FEEL the dissonance I was creating with this negative drama on an emotional level to be able to let it go. When you can catch yourself feeling blue-or angry or anxious-you can pinpoint what you’re telling Dramacool yourself that triggered the feeling.
After I learned to do that, an interesting thing happened. I realized the man who made me blue was not the man I was dating. The guy who left me dissatisfied was a made-up character I created myself-out of obsolete information that I thought I’d jettisoned. Not quite. It involved a few more steps to garbage can.
So once I recognized that they were different “people,” I named the guy I created: Robert Funk. Whenever Robert’s around, I end up down on myself because of the negative things he tells me. I like my man friend-he’s a pleasant, happy guy. I don’t like Robert Funk. He makes me feel bad. Now that I know I created him, I’ve started just telling him to go away whenever he shows up. Robert Funk doesn’t belong in my life.
Have you created a Robert Funk for yourself? If you have expectations that your relationship is supposed to proceed a certain way– that he (or she) should call at a certain time or provide a certain level of financial comfort or share deepest secrets or whatever-then you’ve got your own little “couple drama” going. It doesn’t help.
Once I met Robert Funk, I realized there are other characters I write scripts for, too. Jenny Gotta gets the lead a lot. She’s boring–all she does is work. I need to banish her, but she has such great reasons for doing it her way. “Good girls get the work done.” “Nice people do what they said they would.” “You have to do the work if you want to succeed.” That’s not my focus now. I need balance in my life. She’s outta here.