Ah, the Crazies in our lives . . . are there Strategies that can help us deal with them?
I’m sure you know who I’m talking about here. The people who blow up over little things, and turn them into really dramatic BIG things.
Those who like to fan the fire of tiny angst-filled emotional sparks — into all-consuming conflagration!
How do we protect ourselves from being sucked in and devoured by their ever-recurring dramas?
(And they seem to abound in the greater horse/human work-related community! :))
My Hawaii horse-trainer-daughter, Angela, and I, set out to conquer this one evening: Poster board in hand. Colorful marker pens. Mind-Map begun . . .
After working our solutions for the past five years, our Strategies remain sound, and really do seem to help:))
Example of a Mind Map
Drama Queen/Control Freaks
Here’s what we came up with — and here’s how we did it.
We started by writing an ever-growing list of the people we know who seem to always be caught in the midst of drama — losing it, causing chaos, blowing stuff up and out of proportion.
Then we looked at their individual traits, habits and behaviors, and began listing some of what they would regularly indulge in:
- Flip flop — constant change and unnecessary upheaval. When things work, they STOP doing what works.
- Ask random EVERYBODY for advice. Get confused. Believe the most random/far-fetched answer/person (the internet contributes to this).
- They make the mistake — but blame others for it (projection).
- Lack accountability. They seem to have no consequences — yet hold you accountable (even though they are not :))
- Manipulative. Come with their own agendas.
- They cause (concoct) the problem/disaster . . . in order to “solve” the problem (to make themselves look/feel good?).
- Appear as rescuers.
- No memory/distorted memory of timelines, facts, reality.
- Lie. Exaggerate. Delusional. Twist. Facade.
- Bossy/bully, yet insecure.
- Defensive. Ultra protective of “turf”.
You get the picture . . .
- Ever stirring the pot. Creating turmoil.
- Always trying to “prove” themselves
- Incessant talkers. Gossip. Critical. Yet can appear overly “sugary sweet” . . .
- Words and actions quite the opposite.
- Non-problem solvers — they are the problem.
- Weasel. Downers. Unpredictable.
- Know-it-all. Accusatory.
- Make bad decisions.
- Spoiled — used to getting their way.
- Not respectful.
- Volatile. Explosive.
Possible Horse Solutions
Next, as horse trainers, we looked to the one topic we knew the best: Horses.
We made a list of the horses we’d known through the years with similar traits. (Difficult horses. The ones you can count on to blow up, spook, dump their riders and cause problems.)
Then, we listed how we would deal with those horses to better manage them, hoping to find a correlation between the ill-tempered horse, and the human . . .
(After all, we work with our horses to “desensitize” them. Can we do this with people???)
And we came up with a list of Horse Strategies:
- WORK! Putting a hot/spooky/high-energy horse to consistent work is better than having them stand around idle. (Keep them busy, directed. No extra time.)
- Cut the feed/carbs. Managing the diet of volatile horses helps curb the problems.
- Dominance. Horses work off of a pecking order. Who ever moves the other guy wins. Establishing dominance with these horses is essential. I need to be the one who moves the horse in order to gain his/her respect.
- Exposure. Exposing them to different situations. Habituate them to new and changing environments . . .
- Apply boundaries — no holes in the fence. If a horse pushes against a fence, a gate, and it moves, he will keep pushing, keep moving the boundary. My job is to reinforce the boundaries . . . keep it solid!
- Shake up the mix. Change the set-up, the routine. Keep it interesting (Don’t do everything exactly the same every day.)
- Bribes!! Food. Cookies. Rewards. Cooing. Scratches :))
- Cool them out. Spray them off. Turn them out. And let them roll . . .
Dependable Horses and Humans
In contrast, we listed the good horses, and the reliable people we know — and listed out some of their positive traits.
- Problem solvers.
- Good instincts.
And we wondered, comparing these calming folks to those on our Crazy-Drama list, would it be possible to “train” the others to be more positive, to embrace more of these reliable traits?
So we looked at possible Strategies for desensitizing, managing the energy, and coping with our overly dramatic, Crazy-Drama humans.
How do we protect ourselves from them? Prepare for them? Train them?
Can we learn to see these people coming before they get here, before they explode? What can we do to ward off their tirades and keep them from upsetting us???
And we realized, communication is at the core of the issue.
For them, dramatic outbursts and behaviors are their pattern of communication . . .
“Don’t Show Up for the Pain”
Years ago I worked for a gal, trained in psychology, and I remember her poignant statement to me one day: “We have a saying in the mental health field: ‘Don’t show up for the pain.’ “
As in: If someone is abusive to you, don’t keep going back for more. Cut the cycle. STOP participating. Go away. Don’t show!
And in looking for our solutions, Angela and I wondered: By reducing communications with our Crazy-Drama people, by not showing up for their pain, can we protect ourselves from them?
Rather than answer their calls, can we let them leave a message?
Rather than get angry, upset at their behaviors or tirades, can we train ourselves to put on emotional earplugs?
Train ourselves to stop repeating their annoying behaviors and hurtful words in our own minds, and to others?
Stand Up — Enforce Boundaries
Can we learn to diffuse their energy?
Deal with what needs dealing with, but not dwell on it. Stand up to them, as needed. Stand our ground. Then let them go!
Ignore their actions, their tirades. Pray for them. Love them. But enforce our boundaries with them.
Putting our Theory into Action
I got to test the theory out one day, when a certain woman confronted me while I was working, shoeing a horse in a barn — for someone else. (Yes, turns out this woman was on our original Crazy-Drama Mind-Map list!)
This lady barged up to me, invading my space, and began talking at me about a close-to-home, emotionally charged topic of her gossip-driven obsession.
My immediate thoughts:
Are you kidding??? I don’t want to hear what she has to say. I cannot let this person interrupt my concentration — emotionally, she’ll ruin me!
If I take my mind off of my work right now, I can really mess up what I’m doing on this other lady’s horse.
I can’t afford to hear what she has to say. Not here — not now!
So I decided to stand my ground. To put our theory on limiting communications into action.
Bent over and holding the rear hoof of the lovely mare I was working on, I looked up and told her:
I cannot talk now. Please, go away.
This is my workplace, my office . . .
Right now, I need all my concentration to work on this horse.
Call me on the phone later, if you want.
This is not the time or the place to talk.
With that, she walked away.
Ruffled, I began calming my nervous system (with deep breaths), and focused on one thing: Working on the hooves of that lovely mare.
I would never have known how successful this approach would turn out to be.
She never called. She never confronted me again.
Every time I saw her after that, she politely said hello.
That was it — end of drama!
Nipped in the bud.
Cut off at the beginning of the gossip cycle.
Lessons from the Animal World
It seems we can learn from the animal world around us.
Stand our ground, and set our boundaries.
Become more aloof, like a cat . . .
Apply some of the same strategies with difficult humans as we do with our spooky, difficult horses.
We don’t have to show up for the pain.
In many instances, we can walk away — and surround ourselves in a more pleasant circumstance . . .
More Ease, Less Tension
Since Angela and I have been working these strategies, we’ve seen some refreshing results.
We seem to be managing our work and life with more ease, less tension.
We seem to be surrounding ourselves with more reliable, grounded individuals.
And that makes our work, and our Lives, happier :))
We have learned to:
Reward good behavior.
Nip bad behavior in the bud.
Work on calming our own nervous systems.
Look for joy and dependability in ourselves, and in those we work with.
Focus on the positive.
And be ever on the lookout for, and protecting against, the Crazy Drama symptoms — not only in those around us, but within ourselves — being aware of and reining in, our own personal flaws and weaknesses :))
(Turns out our Strategy even helps with our own behaviors — see my Post, Ride Life :))
Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s horse blog: Soul Horse Ride
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Photo credits: Dawn Jenkins, Dawnhoof working: T. Turner