Saturday, December 25, 2010

Do You Know What (Control) Dramas You Are Starring In?

Control Dramas is a great concept I picked up in my reading of Redfield's "Celestine Prophecy". While it has its detractors, the idea of control dramas has helped me engage in better constructive conflict, at work and elsewhere. Fundamentally, and I paraphrase, control dramas are ways we learn to gain energy (and good feeling, at least temporarily) in our interactions with each other. Redfield identifies four control dramas we engage in:

1. interrogation which manifests as judging
2. aloofness which manifests as being withdrawn and enticing people to draw us out
3. pitifulness (a.k.a. "poor me") which manifests as guilt-inflicting self-pity and even helplessness
4. intimidation which manifests as being threatening.

We know all these dramas in ourselves and others. We know how they are used to be influential, gain control, and to manipulate situations and others. We all have our favorites which work for us. We are skilled at our favorite control dramas' use, and often unconsciously. Those around us know our pet dramas also, for better or worse. Same as we have our favorite dramas, we are susceptible to certain styles which particularly push our buttons, and manipulate us into emotions and actions we regret and are often embittered about.

Control dramas have their usefulness when used consciously from a position of strength, competence and good will. They also do much damage to ourselves and our relationships when used unconsciously, without warning and for selfish ends. We unconsciously engage in these dramas and then wonder about the suboptimal quality of our relationships. Control dramas are not evil in and of themselves. One can use their dramas to be quite effective.

I am prone to interrogation (judging) and have damaged many of the relationships in my life being this way. This is a blind spot for me that I have fortunately gotten feedback on and work to moderate, hard as that is. More and more I work to consciously warn others about my interrogative tendency and ask for their cooperation and patience. I witness that with this communication more, not all of my relationships are better preserved because of the transparency of acknowledging my tendency. Such acknowledgement also puts me on notice to be present, to breathe, and to curb my own drama.

Another drama I can slip into is "poor me", when I am tired, feeling unappreciated and feeling treated unfairly. With mindfulness, I have gotten better at catching myself in this drama and pulling myself out of it. I also have a number of mental, physical and relational practices I use to recuperate from these type dramas. Its hard practice but it improves with practice.

When I practice being interrogative and pitiful, I improve that. When I bring a better intention to my interrogating, converting it to genuine & patient curiosity, and shun pitifulness for a possibilistic, proactive approach to life's uneven treatment of me, I improve that. Its all about what you practice.

May we all become more familiar with our control dramas, the effect they have and master them to serve and love versus self-serve and control. After all, I must master my drama and not let my drama master me, eh? :-)