I love a good podcast. When someone figures out how to put their wisdom and knowledge and, more importantly, their personal experience in to words that universally speak truth about what it means to be human… what it means to strive for more despite our imperfections… I fall fast and hard for that shit.
Today I started listening to a podcast at the recommendation of my friend Laura Lea, who is herself an insightful and compassionate woman. (Also she’s a brilliant chef, go buy her cookbook like NOW. She once gave me some falafel that I survived on for a week because they were so filling and delicious!) Aaaaaanyways, I know LL always gives solid recommendations, so I followed the link to the podcast episode by Elizabeth Benton, like, immediately. Her podcast is called Primal Potential, and though I had never listened to it before, I kind of got the gist that this woman’s platform is how to accomplish personal change through the lens of her weight loss journey. The episode, #510, is entitled How (And Why) I Ditched the Drama.
I LOVE when someone hands me the perfect verbiage for the thoughts I have had a hundred times– but have never myself been able to accurately name. Though the podcast largely works within the frame of Elizabeth’s journey with her body, I feel as though her advice transcends the trappings of our battles with self-image.
You see…. I believe that we all have at least one significant battle in our adult lives that teaches us, nay forces us, to grow. The catalyst may be negative self-image. The catalyst may be a heart-rending breakup. It may be an illness or accident, a career upheaval, a life-altering move to somewhere new. It may be grief.
No matter what it is, we all have bumps in the road, some larger than others, that we have to learn to navigate. They teach us to grow up. And in the learning process comes newfound insights and the emergence of new strengths and tools we never knew we would need to have when we started out.
For those of us who are less obsessively analytical, these changes may simply feel like natural progressions. But I, of course, love to pick this stuff apart.
But back to Elizabeth. I absolutely urge you to go listen to the episode, which I’ve linked above, because she really does take a fair amount of time to dive into the idea from her perspective, but I want to summarize her main point for you. She talks about the power of taking DRAMA out of the equation. When we are trying to work through something, the last thing that could possibly be helpful is to make a bigger deal out of it than it already is.
Don’t they say that the last thing you want to do in a crisis is to start panicking? Exactly.
I love the way Elizabeth discusses how she has utilized this approach in her own life, but I want to take it in a slightly different direction.
I’ve stated something like this before in my writing- that I have always tried to find the fine line between speaking honestly and COMPLAINING, and to turn it into a iron-clad boundary. I truly do NOT want to cross it, because I believe complaining to be such an inauthentic expression of grief. Complaining is the act of poisoning our vulnerability with drama.
But even hinting that speaking about our fear, anxiety, sadness and disparagement could be seen as complaining makes me nervous that I could inadvertently make people feel anxious about how their honesty is perceived by others. That it could cast misdirected shame at voicing genuine feelings. So I’m going to be honest. I didn’t know how to appropriately word that opinion. I didn’t know how to be tactful and very, very clear. So I have avoided diving into the subject. But here it finally is: Honesty is vital. Complaining is toxic.
And then Elizabeth handed me this GIFT.
She probably had no idea that it would mean something so different to me, and perhaps many of her other listeners.
When we take the drama out of expressing our grief, that is where the authenticity lies.
I actually just went to look up the definition of drama to really dive into what it’s all about, and I found that Meriam-Webster mostly references plays, literature, works of entertainment, “the art of performing a role in a play”, or “a state, situation, or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict of forces.”
My point in referencing this is… there’s something inherently disingenuine about drama. It isn’t REAL. It feels fabricated, it’s something that has been played-up for effect. It’s so heightened, it loses touch with reality.
Now, I’m not talking about passion. Feeling intense emotions and acting on them is not drama, it is truth.
I’m not trying to like, tell you to sit in the corner and be a quiet, rational, analytic feeler and thinker, here. Grief sure as hell isn’t thoughtful and quiet all the time.
Elizabeth’s decision to extract the drama from her life is such an awesome piece of advice, not just for approaching the way we see our bodies, but for the way that we confront ALL of our personal battles.
From time to time, I’ve had days where I stayed at home, cooped up and crying. And you know what? A lot of the times it was warranted. That was just the truth of where I was at. That wasn’t drama, that was real-life, in the trenches sadness. It was a passionate expression of my mental and emotional state.
What wasn’t the truth? Beating myself up for it the next day. Obsessing over what a pathetic loser I was for watching back to back movies and sobbing through all of them and eating way more than I should have. Because I couldn’t change it, and giving it more time and attention was just feeding the beast and playing into the drama of the situation. There is no point in losing your shit over something you can’t go back and change. Letting my actions of the previous day ruining the next one? That’s dramatic. That’s called dwelling.
And now I think that maybe the next time I’m having a day like that, ditching the drama will be an incredibly powerful tool. She gives an example of our thoughts being a sliding scale from positive to negative. So while I might be thinking “My life is shitty because I’ve lost a lot”, I don’t have to completely flip around my thinking and force myself to believe “I am so blessed in so many ways.” I mean, I am. But sometimes that’s just not where I’m at, emotionally. So a better solution is to find that sweet spot, somewhere in the middle. “I’m having a really difficult day today, but I don’t always feel this bad. This is just a harder day, and I am allowed to have these.”
Learning to back away from the temptation to play into drama will help our personal relationships and the way we communicate our vulnerabilities with others. If we extract the drama from our speech and stick to the most honest version of our feelings, if we vow to just communicate the truth, we’re more likely to have healthy, productive conversations with each other.
I want to work on extending this philosophy to the entirety of my life. What is the point of sweating the stuff we have no control over? Drama is Dishonest. Drama is a waste of time. Drama is counter-productive!
I’ll leave you with this. I repeat the word grace over and over in my head. It has become my motto, my mantra, my talisman. I rely on this idea to carry me through the hardest of times, and I am positive that somewhere wrapped up in all that grace is and all that it means to me, the absence of drama is encompassed. It then makes sense why this little gem would seem like such a discovery. It’s a means towards keeping our heads held high in times of struggle.
So what do you think? Does Ditching the Drama apply to everything? Is it a helpful secret to life?
Go check out the podcast and see if you can take it a step further for yourself!