Do you have one of those friends who always seems to have bad things happen to them? No matter what is going on in your life, there is something worse going on in theirs. Any joy you try to share with them is beaten back with another story of their victimization. It’s constant drama about stuff you didn’t even know existed let alone mattered. It isn’t just boring, it’s depressing and it’s a tax on your happiness.
If you said yes there is a good chance that you have a few of them. If you have a few of them, maybe it’s time to start looking at your own behavior to see why these people are flocking to you. It may be tough, but you need to consider the fact that people do what they feel comfortable with and what they can get away with doing. In the case of your drama-prone friends, you are enabling them at best, and at worse, you are one of these people. If you are one of them, you are giving others the permission to do the same thing. It’s an ugly thought that you might be manufacturing the victim role just so you can perpetuate a sense of suffering but you need to consider it because if you are doing it, you are really hurting the self-development of you and those around you..
What are the benefits of viewing oneself as a victim?
- It frees them of responsibility for their place in life. It’s a life preserving fiction that ensures the ego remains intact because they never actually try anything. One never fails because they never try. Never failing is a good thing because only failures fail.
- It frees them of the need to expend effort – since they are a victim, failure is going to be the outcome regardless of their actions. This learned helplessness ensures that they conserve energy because they’re smart enough to know how things are going to go.
- It frees them of having to think up something useful to talk about. Nauseating as it may be, people who view themselves as victims always have something that they can talk passionately about.
- They never get caught up in self improvement project or pursuits. Guess why? Because they know they don’t work. Something is going to come along and ruin their efforts.
- They will never be alone because misery prefers miserable company and perceived victims are execeptional at passing along this characteristic to the people they engage, including their children.
- It is very easy to sustain the victim role because, if you are already playing it, it is a part of who you are. Playing it is effortless, changing it requires effort; first in identifying and accept the fake role you are playing and then in the actions you take to make things better.
Wait a minute you say, these aren’t really benefits at all. Good sign, you may not be a victim so you can use this list to help you identify the drama people in your life. Have you heard any of this defeatist talk coming from any of your friends?
What do you do with drama friends?
You have a couple of options and your course of action will be determined by the quality of friend that they are. For really good friends and family members you have two options:
- Blank face conversations – just start to withdraw from the conversations about their victimization by blank facing them. Give them nothing in terms of body language or words that they can take as incentive to continue sharing their misery. People will stop talking very quickly when they get no validation from you in a conversation.
- Try and help them see how they are behaving – this one is a lot tougher because you are not just trying to stop a behavior, you are trying to change one. It’s a lot of work to get someone to see that things are not the way they think they are and they need to be open to change. But, like most interventions, hearing it from a loved one is likely going to have a bigger impact than hearing it from someone else.
For other people, you have three choices, blank face them, try to help them or get rid of them.
- This blank face can have contempt in it because you probably care less about their feelings and more about getting them to stop being a big downer. You’re not looking for their happiness, you are looking for their silence.
- You are welcome to try and help them, but be warned, it’s a poor investment of time. The chances of success are very small in relation to your almost certain vilification. If you do try be sincere about it, at least you’ll know you tried to do the right thing when they lash out at you.
- You can remove them from your life completely so you don’t have to deal with their drama anymore. This can be as simple as just not communicating with them. If you’re lucky it just ends, it can be that simple some of the time. But most of the time, it’s like pulling off a band aid. You are, in essence, breaking up with someone. It’s an interpersonal conflict. It isn’t likely to get ugly but it can be uncomfortable. But just pull fast and get it over with. It’s better for everyone, mainly you, because your life will immediately get better. Again, try to be decent about it because something has happened to make them this way. Just because you don’t care enough about them to try and help shouldn’t mean you deliberately try to hurt them. You have no idea where life will take you so be genuine and fair.
If you are not a drama person, you really have no business hanging out with drama people because they will ruin your happiness, they will chew up your free time and they will add very little to your life. By continuing the friendship you are killing your chances at happiness as well as making sure they don’t get any better. Do the inventory and set free anyone who keeps you bogged down with their drama.