Retire from Drama (part II of III)
Sharon DemarteA Morning in the Life of a Drama King:
Reaching over to hit the snooze button one more time, Ted longs to stay in bed. could kick myself for staying up too late last night. That last drink was a killer, should have quit earlier, but Bud insisted that I have just one more drink with him. Now, I'll be tired all day and I have so much to do. Oh well, I'll think about that later, right now I just need 10 more minutes of sleep."
Ten minutes later......
"Ok, time to roll. If I hurry, I'll have just enough time to get to work before the boss shows up. She got on my case last week about the importance of being on time. It seems like she's always picking on me about something. I don't know what her problem is. I wish she would get a life."
"I hate my job. I wish I could just retire and do the things I want to do, but I can't afford to. Oh well, eight more years and I can retire with a full pension, then I can do whatever I darn well please."
"Better make extra coffee this morning - I'll need it to get through the day. No time for breakfast, I'll grab a donut at Krispy Cr?me. Boy, my doc wouldn't like that. He told me that I need to start taking better care of myself. He seems to be worried about my blood pressure and cholesterol. He has no clue what my life is like. I don't have time to take care of myself. That's why I go to him."
"That report is due today. If only I had started on it earlier. Oh well, I didn't want to do it anyway. I just took it on because Mary said she didn't have time to do it. Damn, I fell for that again! If she didn't spend so much time on the phone having personal conversations, she would have plenty of time to do her own job. Now, I'm going to get even farther behind in my work because I'm helping her.....again! I shouldn't feel that way. After all, she is going through a nasty divorce. I feel sorry for her. My life is better than hers; the least I can do is this report for her. I'll just throw something together, it doesn't have to be great."
"One thing I do have to look forward to today is picking up my new car. I got such a good deal on it! Only $30,000 and they let me spread my payments out over five years. The payments are kind of stiff, but I can handle that by working a few more hours every week. I get to pick it up right after my meeting this afternoon with the IRS."
"I'm not looking forward to that. I'm afraid they're going to nail me. Something told me I shouldn't have added a bit extra to my deductions, but so what - everybody does that, don't they?"
"Wow! I got ready in record time this morning. Now, if there are no traffic tie-ups, I'll make it just in time. Oh no! What was that? There's never a car there! I back out of this spot every morning and there's never a car there. Man, this is no way to start my day. "
If you had Ted's life, would you want to get up in the morning? Do you think Ted will make it to full retirement if he keeps living with this much stress? Do you think he'll keep his job for eight more years? What are some possible outcomes to the way Ted is living his life? If Mary's life is worse than Ted's, how bad must it be?
Does Ted actually exist? No, I made him up using my list of The Top 10 Ways We Create Drama in Our Lives. He is a composite of many people's lives.
Top 10 Ways We Create Drama in Our Lives
1. Living in the Past and Future instead of "Being Present" to the Now. When we are thinking about the past or the future, we are not awake to what's happening in the moment. Accidents happen when we're not awake. Think about the accidents you've had in your life - what were you thinking about just before they happened? Where was Ted's thinking when he backed into the other car? If Ted had been awake to the present moment, would he have run into the other car? Maybe, but probably not.
2. Falling prey to immediate gratifications instead of getting on and staying on a path to what we really want. So often we say we want something but then we sabotage our chances of getting it. How, in your life, have you sabotaged your long-term goals by going for something you think you want in the moment? How did Ted sabotage himself from getting what he really wanted - to retire now?
3. Lack of a healthy boundary system. Boundaries are the limits we put on other people's behavior when they are in our presence. Boundaries are about saying "no" to anything that diminishes our life in any way. Where, in your life, do you need to say "no" more often? When would saying "no" have improved the quality of Ted's life?
4. Being addicted to adrenaline. Adrenaline gives us energy. That's what it's meant to do. It puts us into the "fight or flight" mode needed in an emergency. People have been known to do amazing things, like picking up a car, when they're adrenaline is flowing. Adrenaline is great for what it was designed for, but some people use it on a daily basis as their energy source. Drama gets the adrenaline flowing. People who are addicted to adrenaline often create drama to keep the high energy going.
The problem with living this way is that the ongoing dramas, the running on adrenaline, and the chronic stress involved will sooner or later become destructive to their health. In what ways do you use adrenaline to energize yourself? How many ways can you count that Ted keeps his adrenaline flowing?
5. Not taking good care of ourselves. A lot of people have the misconception that it's selfish (in a negative way) to take care of themselves. They are so busy taking care of everyone else (see my article on Retiring From Rescuing) that they don't have time to take care of themselves. On the contrary, the greatest gift we can give to others is to take excellent care of ourselves (to be Selfish in a positive way). If you don't take care of yourself, no one else is going to. If you don't take good care of yourself, you won't be able to help the people you most want to help. In what areas of your life do you need to take better care of yourself? How well does Ted take care of himself?
6. Not taking good care of the "things" in our lives. What are the things in our lives? They are our jobs or careers, our finances, our material belongings such as cars, appliances etc., and our relationships - all of the things that support or enhance our lives. When we don't take good care of these things, they tend to break down sooner or later. What things in your life need more care? What things in Ted's life are headed for a breakdown?
7. Avoiding or putting off doing important things until the last minute. There are just some necessary things in life that are distasteful to do. Maybe it's something we are afraid to face or it could simply be something we hate doing. So, we put it off to sometime in the future. The problem is that when that future time comes, it's likely that there are other time sensitive things that need doing. Then we are really in a bind because we can't put it off any longer and we've created drama. What are the things in your life you tend to put off? How does that affect you? What do you think is going to happen when Ted finally starts working on that report?
8. Not telling the truth to others or ourselves. We're all tempted at one time or another to lie. And, we have all told a lie at some point in our lives. Some of us have done it a lot. The worst kinds of lies are those we tell ourselves. When we don't tell ourselves the truth, we lose track of what our truth is. If we aren't honest with ourselves, we aren't going to be able to be honest with others. The greatest single thing we can do for our self-esteem is to only do those things that make us feel really, really good about ourselves. Lying does not make us feel good about ourselves. Most of us, barring those with a sociopath personality (no conscience), feel bad about ourselves when we tell less than the truth. Lying drains our life energy. Muscle testing clearly shows this to be true. And, lying often leads to some type of drama. What drama in your life might have been avoided had you told your truth? What do you suppose are going to be the consequences of Ted lying on his income tax return?
9. Not trusting our inner wisdom. We all have guidance from within available to us in each moment. We may receive it in different ways, but it's there nonetheless. When we follow that guidance, our lives generally run pretty smoothly. When we go against that guidance, we often create drama. What have been the times in your life when you've known that something or someone wasn't good for you and you've overridden that knowing? What were the results? How many times did Ted override his inner wisdom in one morning?
10. Not taking personal responsibility for our lives. Whenever we hand responsibility for our lives over to someone else, we put ourselves in the victim role. When we blame others or circumstances, we give up our personal power. Complaining, blaming and whining are all energy draining behaviors. Taking responsibility for your life does not mean to blame yourself. What it does mean is that you take a look at your part in every situation in your life and you respond to that. In what ways have you given responsibility for your life over to others? Have you been happy with the results? Who do you think is responsible for Ted's life?
Thomas Leonard, the late patriarch of the personal coaching profession, used to say, "Boredom is the gateway to peace." Thomas also taught that it's possible to have a problem free life. For a person addicted to adrenaline, a problem free life might seem boring. To me it is not. I've had enough drama in my life to last a lifetime. Give me boredom over drama any day.
From the author's series, "Ten things to Retire from Before Retiring". Publishing permission granted to Transitions, Inc. by the author.