What qualifies as “drama”, anyway?

The other morning I was practicing* a Celtic cross tarot spread. I asked the question:

What do I most need to know today?

The second card in this spread (layout) represents opposing forces, and I got the 10 of swords. In my deck, “The Wild Unknown” by Kim Krans, this card is ominous: a colorless bull with 9 swords stuck in its back and another through both black eye sockets.

When I interpret this card, I can get a sense of people betraying me (i.e. “backstabbing”). Other times I focus on the sword through the eyes, indicating that maybe I’m not seeing something important because I’m being blinded by other things.

This day I decided to refresh my memory on the author’s interpretation of the card. It is: “ruin, rock bottom, melodrama”. The description talks about “playing the victim” and “loving drama too much”.

How much drama does one create internally?

Taking a moment to ask a simple question and use a tool (like Tarot) to see what came up helped me a lot throughout my day. It created some mindfulness around what really qualified as “drama”. Here are some examples:

  • I’d notice preparing to support opposing views in conversations that haven’t happened — in other words, I was having arguments solely in my head
  • Recovery from acute thyroiditis last year left me with some weight gain — when I’m concerned about how I look, it’s drama I create between my mind and body (since I specially decided against thyroid altering drugs)
  • I could come up with some pretty strange reasons to procrastinate, which created drama around getting simple tasks done (making them more difficult than they actually were!)
  • People I interacted with didn’t always behave according to my expectations. I could accept and adjust to this in the moment, or take some time to consider how to respond instead of reacting immediately.

Clearly, much of the “drama” I experienced during my day was internally created (in my mind) and not external (from my actual experiences). This is often true for my clients as well:

  • “I can’t leave because if I do, [terrible thing will happen].”
  • “If I eat one, I won’t be able to stop.”
  • “If I let myself cry [or feel some other emotion], I’ll become lost in the emotion never to be seen again.”
  • “I can’t stop working 80 hours a week because I’ll get fired.”
  • “I just can’t deal with [people or an issue] right now.”

These are internal dramas playing out in the mind. Sometimes coaches call them “limiting beliefs”. A friend used to call them “irrational fears”. Regardless of their name, such thoughts don’t have much basis in reality, yet we allow such imaginary (sometimes vivid) drama to make us afraid, and that fear keeps us stuck. Drama can also keep us on the defensive, prevent us from socializing, stop us from realizing our dreams, and damage relationships.

What’s more, drama makes everything harder. It adds stress to our lives. So if you’re looking for stress relief, I’d say, first unearth (and work to eliminate) the internal drama.

Tools for discovering & eliminating internal drama

The tool I used this particular day happened to be Tarot. But it could has just as easily been something else: prayer, meditation, journaling, yoga practice, a quiet walk, etc. The most important characteristics of the tool are to help you:

  1. Ask the question
  2. Become curious and open to what comes up as an answer
  3. Notice where your mind goes, and ask “could this be drama?”
  4. Receive some insight (in other words, you don’t ponder over an answer; the answer comes to you)
  5. Release it and move yourself along

This process doesn’t happen without practice. It may not happen with all the tools you try. There were, and still are, plenty of times where your mind will get sucked into the drama (mine too). But it doesn’t always have to be this way! Even a taste of a different relationship to the mind’s activities can show you how good it feels to live differently.

*I am, by no means, a Tarot expert. The Art of Intuitive Tarot by Gina Spriggs, however, is a wonderful self-paced course.

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