One of the lessons that took me the longest to learn when seeking to simplify my life was to limit the emotional drainers. For far too long I allowed myself to be emotionally drained by things and people that were not really beneficial and did nothing to make my life more simple, joyful, or peaceful. I realized that I was investing my limited and precious energy in things that were not nearly as important as my husband and daughter. Anything that took away my ability to give them what they needed had to go.
For me it has included two key areas.
Heartbreaking Stories & News Online
Quite awhile ago I ceased looking at blog stories about sick people and especially sick children. There were even some blogs I stopped reading because the authors wrote frequently about and linked to stories about sick and dying children. I didn’t stop reading because I didn’t care. I stopped reading because it was too emotionally draining to read the stories. The stories would haunt me and sap me emotionally.
I also substantially decreased my news intake. In fact, for the past two weeks I’ve taken an almost complete break from the news. We don’t have TV reception so I never watch the news. My news comes from either online or if I pick up a newspaper when I am out somewhere. Apart from seeing a couple of headlines in a sidebar while doing research for a client, I haven’t looked at news these past two weeks. It was an intentional break to free myself up from all the junk in the world.
Related to both of these is the fact that I have stopped reading heartbreaking news stories such as natural disasters and war. I read almost nothing about the recent earthquakes in various parts of the world. I heard something about a mine last week, but did not even look it up.
I know I’ve said it before on here, but I do not believe God intended us to be drawn into every negative story or disaster that takes place in the world. Our hearts and minds cannot deal with and process all of that. We were not meant to look at disturbing photos over and over again while listening to horrific details hour after hour on cable news.
And so I have chosen not to fill my mind and heart with things that only drain me of my emotional resources.
Drama Kings & Drama Queens
The second area is drama kings and drama queens. David and I have dealt with a lot of them over the past fifteen years. We made some very key mistakes in how we dealt with these kinds of people early on in our relationship and marriage. But we finally got to the point where we realized that drama was very bad for our health and our home. And so we now avoid it, even at the risk of offending people.
Offending someone is not nearly as important as maintaining our emotional health.
By drama kings and drama queens I mean people who can never be happy with themselves or can never be happy unless they are in the midst of some kind of conflict. As strange as it sounds, I really believe there are people out there who are not happy unless they are in the midst of conflict. It is almost as though they are addicted to the energy it releases, even if the energy is negative.
Drama kings and drama queens also include people who thrive on controlling others. They are manipulative and simply can’t be trusted to act in ways that are healthy to all involved. Drama kings and drama queens are the type of people who find and manufacture drama where there really is no need for drama.
In describing drama kings and drama queens, I want to emphasize that they are not people with just regular life problems. Everyone has problems. I have no issue with having people in my life with problems. I consider it a privilege to be friends with people as they go through life struggles. But struggling through the ups and downs of life and drama are two different things. I will gladly walk with someone through a trial or difficulty. But I now run the other direction when I encounter drama.
Limiting Emotional Draniers For My Family’s Sake
Some of these lessons were hard to learn. We made some significant mistakes in the past in these areas. But I know Caroline needs a mother who is healthy, happy, and whole. Anything that lessens my ability to serve my daughter and my husband has to be critically analyzed and dealt with.
Expending significant amounts of energy on people and places that really have little to nothing to do with me is not wise stewardship.
I got rid of my facebook because I couldn’t stand the constant drama. You’re right about kings and queens—I’ve got enough drama of my own without having to read everyone else’s too.
And the same thing with caringbridge websites too. I have only one I follow, our very good friends that used to be our worship pastor. I can only read it every couple of days because it is so emotional.
Anyhow, you’re not alone. Some people think I’m sticking my head in the sand but I’m learning as i get older that I need to keep things “small” to stay in control of my depression and anxiety.
I agree with you. After 66 years of these things and fighting off deperession in these later years, I have been saying ENOUGH! I have to “lead a quiet life and mind (my) own business…and work with my hands…” as God’s word says, and resist being a busybody and listening to everything the world says. I need to do and take care of what is right in front of me, the priorities I know God gave me, my simple calling and my obvious talents, and quit looking to the right or the left. I must enjoy the good of what is right in front of me.
I don’t watch the news (no tv), but I do like to keep up with events via the internet and newspaper. I agree that it can be emotionally draining, but for me I feel I can cope with it at this stage of my life. I completely respect you making a decision not to read/listen/watch the news. There is a lot to be said for staying away from such depressing stories.
Interesting to read your ideas about drama kings and queens. I hadn’t thought of it like that before. A friend of mind certainly comes to mind! I provide a listening ear most of the time, but I have to admit to dreading her phone calls at times!
I have a relative who is a drama queen for sure. It is actually very sad. I am pretty certain that there was so much drama in her life as a child–over which she had no control–that she grew up thinking that drama was equal to living. There is always something going on with her, and I fear she will never settle down inside herself and be comfortable.
All of that is to say that I agree that these sorts of people exist. Though I would never cut out a relative, I certainly don’t expect folks outside of the family to put up with it!
I go back and forth with reading news. I once applied to be a political columnist with our local paper, and I almost got the job. Now, I am SO grateful that God didn’t allow it. I can only handle reading such things for so long, and then I have to stop for the sake of our family. Too much tension inside my soul if I follow politics daily.
I so agree on the news. We were not made for that. I recently re-subscribed to our local newspaper and that is just the right amount of news for me. I’ve also cut back on the number of blogs I read for various reasons.
Great Post Sallie! You’re preaching to the Choir here. My husband is a news junkie – most of it is political. Over a period of time I’ve learned how to tune this out, while not offending my hubby of course. I don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but when I watch too much news I become quite agitated. Especially first thing in the morning. When I was working I couldn’t even listen to it on the radio on the drive to work.
It’s funny to think of the drama Kings & Queens in our lives. I love the way you put that. Can I use it???
YES, yes, and amen. I think it is a trick of the enemy, used to immobilize caring women. He lures us to worry over disasters which we can’t control, drains us of our energy, then leaves us weak and vulnerable to temptation in things which we can control. Sometime he even makes me feel guilty for not caring about every detail of the universe. Actually, I have learned that God made me with a finite amount of physical and emotional energy. I am obedient and blessed when I am a good steward of that same energy. So, when I am confronted with disasters and the like, I visualize myself putting it into the hands of God. I ask Him to glorify Himself through it, then I try to rest and focus on what He has put in my hands that day. It is a spiritual discipline.
I had a Drama Queen friend for years but it was so exhausting, especially if I felt I should help, we lost contact for probably 12 years and the next time I saw her she picked right back up on her drama , it was just like tuning into an old familiar soap opera!! Nothing had changed! I recognize these folks now and RUN.
Nice to hear someone say that it’s a good and ok thing to tune out tragedy. My husband has said to me a couple of times, “Stop reading blogs about babies dying…” I get sucked in, and its never a good thing. I think reading about too much tragedy can be a faith shaker, too. It’s hard to maintain faith when feeling surrounded by situations where you wished God had intervened and can’t figure out why He didn’t.
Thanks for reminding me that I do need to stay away from those blogs and depressing news. They really do agitate me and and sadden me, and its good to stick my head in the sand when I can’t do anything at the moment. Except start sponsoring a Compassion Child, but that’s positive…. =)