Police Psychology: No More Drama
by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP
I had pneumonia! I just got over it I guess, although I hack as I write. One off my staff caught it on a cruise to Russia, and I woke up with it on Saturday last week, in case you were wondering why there was no communication from me for two weeks. It kicks your butt. Makes you think it might be your last cold ever — that you’re gonna die! And that always puts a new perspective on life.
I remember writing about the “moment of truth” in my book Keeping It Simple. (I’ll send you a free copy on .pdf if your write me.) I wrote about an imaginary time when you are told you have one month to live. What do you choose to do with your life? Dream of all the possessions you never got, or mourn that your life was over, or spend the last few breaths with loved ones and people who have been close to you. Would you look to complicate your life or simplify your life?
Of course, everyone is supposed to say simplify. That’s what books do is trap you in the premise of the book. And it was written in the early 90’s when I was a pup in my late 30’s, so it made sense to write it that way. But what I didn’t know back then, and it takes a while to realize, is that some people just look to “create drama” in their life, re3gardless of the situation. And as much as you tell people to simplify, drama is always created by these people.
I have written about them. I called them “Brain Eaters” and I took the side of how to not let a Brain Eater rent space in your brain. But I have never addressed the person that always finds a lot of drama in their life. And there is no better place for drama then the holidays, when you are forced with people who often think they have a say in your life because of the family you were born into.
So, let’s get down to it. If you wake up and say there is a ton of drama in your life over a long period, what do you take a look at? I am constantly telling people the first step to simplifying is to get a few empty garbage bags and start tossing things out. Well, unfortunately it is the same with too much drama. Reduce the complexity by lowering the amount and type of people you are associated with. If there is someone that constantly creates drama that can be purged from your life, purge them. If they can’t be purged, limit the amount of effect they have on you, or essentially make them less important. That is step one to reduce drama, but sometimes that means backing off from long-time friends or even relationships that are constant drama producers. You’ll end up better, believe me.
The next step in reducing drama is to reduce the amount of extra organizations that you are playing an active role in. Just like if your kid was overly stressed you would cut them back a soccer league or two, or a dance troupe, sometimes you have to make a decision to stop being president of the motorcycle club or the South Eastern Georgia Patrolman’s Fund or the professional organization that is creating too much drama in your life. Often you love the organization but some of the people are just too needy or demanding. If you find yourself stressed to the max from the drama of a volunteer job, or thinking about it constantly, sometimes you have to leave it. In my experience, what often starts as a pleasant job has a shelf life and if you are beyond the shelf life, it just might be over.
Finally, turn your focus on your loved ones. Tell them you will help solve their problems, but they must take the drama out of it. You will only have to remind them every 90 seconds, but after ten or twelve times it will go to 2 minutes then three and eventually you won’t have to remind them as much. Focus your attention on helping them. Most readers of mine tend to be caretakers. They take care of other people and enjoy it when there is no drama. Let people know you will help, but you want a drama-free zone. You see simplifying the drama in your life is really simple, but people mistake simple for easy. Simplifying means giving up and that is simple, but not always easy.