You’ve had a rough day at work. You’re beat, all you want to do is go home and chill. You get to your car--only to see one of those horrible orange devices clamped to your rear wheel. You’re horrified! What’s this? Then you read the ticket neatly tucked under your windshield wiper. Your registration is incorrect and it’s going to cost you $1,000 to get that “boot” off your wheel in addition to your time to fix the registration problem. Registration incorrect? What? How? $1,000? No way. You’re now in full crisis, angry, upset, emotionally flailing--drama!

Or, you’ve had a rough day at work. You’re beat, all you want to do is go home and chill. You get home just fine--early actually; Your supervisor and the traffic were apparently all on your side. You open the door, “Hi, Honey I’m –“ and before you get the words out, you realize that Honey isn’t alone. Honey is straddling someone on the living room couch, and what Honey is performing definitely isn’t CPR. Although that’s what you’ll need soon you figure, as you clutch your chest, certain you’re having a heart attack. You’re in full crisis, angry, upset, emotionally flailing--drama!

And with good reason. After all, whether you’re facing a $1,000 fine or a cheating spouse, there’s hurt aplenty, and drama seems fully justified. And indeed, a certain amount of flailing, hysterics or anger is perfectly normal and healthy--feelings should be expressed (safely and appropriately). It’s when we keep riding on those feelings, when we nurture and grow them, that we create drama and make the situation much worse than it needs to be.

You see, $1,000 to scrape together when you don’t have it, a cheating spouse where you always assumed fidelity are bad enough. But when you allow yourself to plunge into an emotional frenzy over it, you hurt yourself even worse. You’re less able to think straight, you don’t have the creative wherewithal to figure out how to get the money, what the best course of action is with your spouse. High drama of the negative sort decreases the blood flow to certain critical parts of your brain making it oh-so-difficult for you to resolve whatever the crisis is in the best way possible.

So, damp down the drama. Feel your shock, your anger, your upset, and as soon as you can, let it go in the service of your greater good. Take a walk, breathe deeply-- physical activity often helps reset your emotional self so you can start using all your brain again. This will take a certain amount of self-discipline for it’s extremely tempting to stay in that mode of “poor me, woe is me.” It’s how we attempt to soften the blow, lick the wound as we tell the story over and over again, engaging others to commiserate with us in our distress.

Unfortunately, licking a wound over and over again prevents it from healing. And that’s what you do when you keep the drama going. You don’t resolve the crisis, and since like tends to attract like, the drama is self-perpetuating. You can’t get it together to pay the registration fine so you end up losing the car. You leave your spouse impulsively-- now the kids are caught in the middle of an unnecessarily bitter and acrimonious custody battle.

Drama. Great on stage, fantastic on film, wretched in real life. Best to give it up in the interests of enjoying a happy and fulfilling life.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D. is a respected psychologist, consultant, speaker and author. Her most recent book is "The Power of Appreciation in Everyday Life (Insomniac Press, 2006). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives--at work, at home and in relationships. Dr. Nelson welcomes your comments via email ( You can visit Dr. Nelson anytime at .