In this podcast (episode #479) and blog, I talk to holistic psychologist, educator and best-selling author Scott Lyons about what it means to be addicted to drama, how a drama addiction affects our mental health and relationships, how to manage a drama addiction, and so much more!
As a body-based trauma expert, Doctor of Osteopathy and Mind-Body Medicine specialist, Scott helps people break free from cycles of pain, limited beliefs, and trauma. Scott is an innovator in transformative wellness and trauma therapy, teaching over half a million people internationally to relieve stress and restore vitality. Scott has worked with many of the country’s top leaders and CEOs as an executive coach and wellness consultant.
Scott is the creator of The Embody Lab—the largest online learning platform for body-based trauma therapies—and developer of Somatic Stress Release™, a holistic process of restoring biological resilience, taught in over 20 countries. Scott is also the founder and designer of Omala, a wellness brand dedicated to creating sustainably sourced tools for transformation.
In his incredible new book, Addicted to Drama, Scott turns the notion of the “drama queen” on its head, showing that drama is an addiction and those who are suffering with it are experiencing a much deeper psychological, biological, and social pain.
For a person addicted to drama, the intensity becomes their way of coping. Their life is a constant cycle of crisis, chaos, and chronically high levels of stress. They may never be able to relax without an internal alarm going off, sending them spiraling back toward chaos. Drama is the stirring, the excitement, the exaggeration, the eruption, the unrest, and the medicine to feel alive in relation to the numbing of the internal and external world around them. For someone addicted to drama, the drama is often how they survive—or think they do.
However, rather than dismissing addiction to drama as just attention seeking, Addicted to Drama offers clear-eyed empathy, humor, and practical strategies to help us all understand and break free of the drama cycle.
First, it is important to understand what being addicted to drama looks like externally and on the inside. Externally, this often feels like a “how did we get here?” or “what just happened?” moment, like something that wasn’t such a big deal erupts and becomes a major issue. The experience is intense because the response doesn’t seem to match the circumstances that caused it. It often feels like someone has sucked the air out of the room—there is no space for anyone else but the person having the reaction, which can be incredibly stressful for everyone involved.
Internally, this often feels like the world is against you. Everything feels like it is colliding, and it is hard to get yourself out of the eye of the storm. You feel a deep sense of urgency—you feel like you can never outrun the stress you are experiencing. You are constantly searching for what is going wrong—a sense of unease that does not dissipate. And, if you can’t find what is wrong, you create it, because you have a deep sense of being out of sync with the world, which is often the result of some kind of past trauma and isolation that distorts your sense of yourself and your environment. You are responding true to how you experience the world; you are not just “addicted to drama”.
Some signs of a drama addiction are:
-Feeling anxious or bored when things are calm
-Making mountains out of molehills
-Pulling other people into the drama
-Craving extreme situations and sensations
-Making bad situations universal
-Causing chaos in relationships
-Feeling like a victim all the time
Thankfully, if someone you know is addicted to drama, there are ways to protect yourself, including:
-Recognize when you lose your anchor in the presence of someone else. This is the first step to protecting your mental and physical wellbeing. Awareness is key!
-Come back into the present of your own body—grounding yourself in the present through techniques like breathing and so on.
-Identify how close you want to be to the drama, and assert boundaries when necessary.
If you feel like you have a drama addiction, there are ways you can manage and heal this, including:
-Becoming aware of your stress response and how it is affecting your thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
-Working on ways to “slow down” when you feel like you are ramping up in the moment to give yourself time to process what you are experiencing.
Reframing the addiction to drama in positive ways is key. People who are addicted to drama act from a place of pain and defense—they expect the world to come at them. Understanding this is key; just saying something like “get over yourself” or “you are such a drama queen” is not helpful in the moment, and can exacerbate the situation.
For more on drama as a coping mechanism, listen to my podcast with Scott (episode #479) and check out his amazing work. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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2:00 Scott’s amazing story & work
6:40 Scott’s new book Addicted to Drama
7:20, 11:45 What being addicted to drama looks like
13:32 Drama addiction & trauma
17:42 Isolation & drama addiction
21:55 How to tell if someone is addicted to drama
31:20 How to protect yourself from someone who is addicted to drama
37:00, 44:50 How to identify & manage your addiction to drama
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