People who love and create drama – we all know them, but how do you deal with them? It helps to recognize they usually have one thing in common.
This has been a rough year for the world. There have been a huge number of tumultuous events, all exacerbated by one of the most impactful plagues in the last 100 years. In the midst of it, I have recently been reading a number of articles claiming that this has been the year that the “Tin Hats” have been vindicated. That is to say, the people who have lived in constant conspiracy believing for a big event to occur to expose the lies and dishonest dogma of our world’s benefactors, all of a sudden have something that seems to justify all the years of complaining.
One thing is for sure – we certainly live in a time where complaining and fault finding is at an all time high. Now we can criticise world leaders, celebrities, parents, spouses and friends even in distant lands in 140 characters or less. We can destroy material we don’t agree with with our laugh and angry reacts (that’ll show ’em!). We can tag people whilst we damn their reputation and character to hell.
And yeah, it can be kind of amusing when people can criticise these nebulous and intangible things, but it’s much less amusing when their criticism targets someone you love or something you believe in.
And it makes me wonder what truly drives the people who are always able to find fault with something. In every government, in every policy, in every friendship, in every romantic relationship, in every marriage, in every connection – there’s always something wrong. There’s always a reason why they can’t be happy, and they will try their hardest to make sure that you can’t be happy either.
As I have thought about it and had more and more people around me impacted negatively by sources of constant turmoil and angst, it seems that people who love and create drama seem to have one thing in common.
They’re usually bored, discontent people.
As a person who feels very strongly about people doing relationships well, I am saddened when I see relationships fail or become strained. I know in the last few years especially I have been hearing from people who feel like their partner always has something to criticise. That their energy is always drained because they have to put up with the never ending drama. That peace is always absent from their home and heart because it’s never allowed to rest. That they’re never good enough, that there’s always something they’re doing wrong, that there can never be a moment of peace and joy in the relationship because the next reason to be unhappy is just around the corner.
The two big ones I see this phenomenon in are in romantic relationships, and friendships. Especially as people get older, it seems our opportunities to be disappointed with each other only seem to increase, and we only develop more and more ways to highlight, or ensure, that there is something always wrong. We call it “standards”, we call it “self-respect”, we call it “justified”, but we’re quick to shoot it down when someone else does it to us.
And it makes me think, especially when I talk to people who seem to say the same things every single time – is it really every relationship? Is it really every friendship? Is it really every single person besides yourself who has this problem?
Or are you just seeing problems or creating them everywhere you go?
And then I realised that usually these are the same people who also find faults with most other areas of life. That the one who regularly took issue with the husband or wife, the boyfriend or girlfriend, the high school friend or recent colleague, was also more likely to take issue with the company/s they worked for, the government they were under, the set of circumstances around their life. And they’ll likely repeat the cycle again with the next wife, the next friend, the next job, until a trail of destruction and distraction lies behind them.
It seems that people who love and create drama are never quite happy with things around them. And even when there are reasons to be happy, they sabotage and self-sabotage until the relationship, the workplace, the circumstance looks like the preferred environment of chaos they have in their head.
And then I realised something else, which seems in line with what the research says on the topic (such as from Dr Susan Whitbourne), that people who constantly live in a state of crisis look for stimulation and diversion away from themselves in other places and people. American professor John McWhorter put it this way – “Every third person in the world is a drama queen. And crying ‘victim’, especially when you’re not really a victim in any real way, feels good“.
In other words, perhaps this person needs to create drama to avoid having to think or do something about the state of their own life. I mean, all of us do that to an extent, don’t we? That’s why we love watching movies and TV shows rife with drama – to give us an escape from our own.
To describe and blame problems out there means I don’t have to be reminded of the problems in here – that perhaps I don’t feel like I have anything else worthwhile to do with my life. That maybe I’m not that content with where I am. That maybe I have a lot of spare time and don’t know of any other way to fill it.
Bishop TD Jakes said of his critics that “I never had a hater who was doing better than me”. When you compare the progress of the one being complained about against the life of the one complaining, that statement seems to hold true in almost every case where people love and create drama.
In truth, as with most issues I notice in others, it makes me stop and take stock about how I’m going myself in this area. It’s really easy to notice problems in others, especially when they’re being extreme, but what about in my own life? Have I become better at focusing on the lives of others than I have on living my own life? Does my schedule contain too much fruitless complaint and not enough purposeful action?
I think one thing about this in particular is that we have all had way more spare time on our hands this year, and time away from the things that we should have been doing. It may have been mandated by governments or legal bodies, but it is also the same scenario in which King David made his greatest mistake. At the time when kings went to war, he stayed home. Us staying home when we should be doing something else is the most common beginning of every major mistake in our lives. As soon as we are able and have been able to, we really need to get back to it.
Leadership author and speaker John Maxwell highlights that successful leaders and individuals who achieve greatness are people who “aggressively pursue solutions” and abstain from complaining, noting that “wallowing in helplessness” and complaining are futile exercises. Zig Ziglar also noted that the more you complain about your problems, the more problems you will have to complain about. I’ve definitely found both of those to be accurate.
The thing about focusing on and creating drama is that it feels like activity. It feels like I’m doing something, but in reality all I’m doing is putting a circle around something that already exists, or perhaps even destroying something that is going very well. In that way, it is a fruitless waste of effort.
But we usually know that, don’t we? So why do we continue?
I would like to submit to you that you may have forgotten who you are supposed to be. That like the people of Israel who turned a miracle into a disaster by their complaint when they weren’t where they wanted to be, so too we may be turning what could be a potentially fruitful season into a distracted and empty mess.
I wonder if you remember who you are and what you’re called to do? I wonder if you’re aware of the great giftings that have been placed on your life, and how you have been empowered to bring the change that the world needs?
And I wonder how life may have hurt you or distracted you from who you truly are. I wonder what event it was that set you on the slow fade away from your destiny and towards complaint, fault finding, and negativity.
The early church leader Titus was reminded by his mentor Paul that they once used to live by “passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” I think that is the greatest tragedy of becoming distracted by, enamoured with, and one of the people who love and create drama is that indeed we are doing what Paul said here – we are wasting our days away in a land of hatred and misguided effort.
I know myself that whenever I have started groaning, I have probably stopped growing. That times in my life where I have been tempted to spend time distracted by the actions or inactions of others, that it may be that I am doing it at the expense of the helpful work I am called to do.
Instead, Paul charged Titus, and us, as follows:
“Be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people…. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned“.
I dunno about you, but I know in my own life I want to be known as a person who is ready for every good work and of good repute, and not noted for actively stirring up division.
I love the words of Apartheid author Alan Paton to this end: “I have always found that actively loving saves one from a morbid preoccupation with the shortcomings of society“.
How about you? What do you do when people love and create drama around you? Have you recognised that within your own life?