Often when we talk about drama, we’re talking about negative things that happen to us and others. Drama is synonymous with conflict, but perhaps an even more fundamental word is aversion.
But I challenge you to go even deeper with me. While we consider drama to be solely about things we don’t like or want, drama also includes the opposite side of the coin — what we like and chase. And here’s the kicker, you can’t have drama without aversion and desire just like you can’t have a coin without heads and tails.
Basically, even though we talk about drama as things we don’t want, drama also includes the things we do want. Think about it. A show with only conflict isn’t drama, it’s just a nightmare or a tragedy. Like any good network drama, you need push and pull, give and take, defeat and victory. Otherwise, people wouldn’t tune in.
Having said that, one then realizes that if one doesn’t want any more drama, that would mean two things. One, they would have to stop resenting things that happen to them that they do not want. Two, they would have to stop chasing things that they want. Why? Because the two feed each other in what is perhaps the most perfect symbiotic relationship ever.
It begins with desire. Desire is natural. We want to enjoy our lives and we want to feel good. The mistake we make is when we cling and become inflexible to what is happening around us. What we need to remember is that we are in control of almost nothing in our lives. We don’t even control what we desire. Think about that! There are things you want that you had no input on wanting. What are the ramifications of that?
Well, the job/friendships/money/relationships/activities/family that you’re aiming for were not chosen by you. And if that is the case, then does it really make sense to get bent up out of shape when you don’t get exactly what you want when you want it?
I wanted to be a showrunner when I was 19. I wanted certain friendships to stay exactly the same. I wanted to make a million dollars per month. I wanted relationships with a bunch of different girls. I wanted to travel more. I wanted my family to leave me alone. And here I am to tell you that if I had gotten these things when I wanted them they would’ve been a disaster or were an actual disaster.
Which leads us to the second side of the coin: aversion. I wanted to be a showrunner because I wanted people to see my creation and love me. I didn’t think I commanded enough respect from strangers. I wanted relationships because they made me feel alive and I was tired of the boredom and didn’t feel loved enough. I wanted that much money because that was the amount I figured would keep me safe from any problem I could encounter.
With that, the recipe for drama is complete — a hastening after things you didn’t decide to want to escape problems that were either invented or stemmed from past trauma.
Again, I have to explicitly state that desire in and of itself isn’t bad. If you didn’t have desire, you wouldn’t do anything at all. But you can’t tell me that when you get hungry and you have a hankering for pasta that that is you making yourself want pasta, because it isn’t. Your job is to decide on following through with the feeling or looking at other values you have in mind to decide what eat.
Overall, what is the solution here?
1. Take a good and honest look at your desires. It may reveal that you are running away from something. It might not.
Ask yourself why you want that desire fulfilled. What would it mean if you got what you’re wishing for?
2. Realize that desires are sometimes not meant to be fulfilled and sometimes not meant to be acted on.
This is a bit dicey, but here me out. You might have a desire to start a new diet in a similar way that you have the desire to sleep with someone that’s not your spouse. One desire seems fine, the other seems problematic.
You could start the diet because you don’t feel healthy or you could start the diet because you have a low self-image and hate your body. You could cheat because you never respected your spouse or you could cheat because you found someone who treats you well and you’re going to end your relationship or you sleep with someone else because you’re in porn and that’s just what the job entails or you’ve always been cheated on and you want to do it before it’s done to you.
This is why it matters to investigate why you want what you want. Nothing is inherently good or bad, and knowing the context is very helpful. If you understand that you aren’t supposed to get everything you want, then you’ll stop feeling so bad when you don’t.
3. Realize that desires often have a deeper desire attached to it.
Do you want yet another cat because it’s oh so cute or is it because you’re oh so lonely? If it’s the former, getting another cat completes the goal. If it’s the latter, getting the cat may not solve the issue. After all, with 2+ cats, are you really lonely? Tying this with point #2 above, if you don’t get a new cat, maybe it really wasn’t supposed to happen. The desire was to show you that even with cats, you still feel alone.
4. Stop running away from things you don’t like.
I’ll admit, this is a bit counter-intuitive because we’re programmed to avoid what we don’t want, but let’s explore it. You have a desire to be with someone, but they go out with someone else. Because you’re experiencing the opposite of what you want/what you were trying to avoid, you don’t like it. But then some time passes and you eventually realize that not only would you be unprepared to be with that person, you can see the red flags that you couldn’t before because you were so enamoured by them and the narrative you created.
Another example is making a certain amount of money at a particular age. Because you’re running away from poverty or just being average, you want to be rich. But in achieving this, you’ve landed yourself in a career you resent or with health complications from overworking. You might be rich, but you might not be happy because people only like you for your money and what they can get from you.
5. Stop thinking that one life is better than another. It’s not.
You might think you got me beat here. Clearly the life of a suicidal person or a homeless person is worse than the life of a millionaire or even an average Joe. Okay, but suffering is suffering, and even if one is suffering more than another it is because they are stuck in drama, the same drama we’re talking about here.
6. Become an observer of what is
I can’t tell you how crucial this is, so I’ll let Adyashanti do it.
“You see, it’s all a creation of the mind, an endless movie, a terrible dream. Don’t try to change the dream, because trying to change it is just another movement in the dream. Look at the dream. Be aware of the dream. That awareness is It. Become more interested in the awareness of the dream than in the dream itself.”
The constant grasping and aversion is the drama of life, but it doesn’t have to be. Taking a step back to just observe what is going on is you taking a step out of the story. You’re now backstage. You’re still going to live your life by doing what you believe is right, but as an observer rather than an unaware actor, pushed and pulled by the vicissitudes of life you cannot control.
If you understand that desire is not something that must be fulfilled and is an arrow that may point to genuine interest as well as aversion, you’ll stop thinking that your life story is destined for primetime television and you start feeling much better.