“No more pain .. no more game… noone’s gonna make me hurt again.” - Excerpts from lyrics to Mary J. Blige song No More Drama A woman raised her hand in one of my Tongue Fu! workshops and said, “I’m so mad at my landlord, I can hardly think straight.”

I asked, “What happened?”

“She accused me of not paying my rent. This really bothers me because I always pay on time and she’s insinuating I’m a liar.”

“Didn’t she get your check?”

“That’s the thing. I pay in cash. We both travel a lot so I put it in a drawer in the kitchen so it’s waiting for her when she comes back. She claims she didn’t get it.”

“I can see why this would be upsetting. What’s happening now?”

“I told her exactly where I put it and when. She texted back this morning that her son had picked it up and said, ‘My bad.' That may be her way of apologizing but to my mind she’s taking this way too casually.”

“So, what are you going to do to keep this from happening again?”

“Well, I’ll pay with a check from now on so I have a paper trail and can prove I paid. The thing is, I’m still so upset about this, I don’t even know if I want to continue living there.”

We talked through a decision-making matrix that helped her realize that, other than this one incident, she liked the house and wouldn’t be able to find something comparable so wanted to stay. The thing was, she needed to find a way to mentally move on.

I said, “The first thing is to drop, ‘I can’t stop thinking about what she did.’ The more you say that, the more you think about the very think you don’t want to think about. The goal is to replace a "drama story" with a "karma story."

She said, “Like ... ‘What a ditz.”

Everyone in the room laughed.

I said,” Well, that would switch the attention off your reaction and onto her mishandling of the situation. The thing is, if you want to stay in the house, you might want to come up with a more helpful story that will lead to a better relationship. Maybe she was under a lot of stress, acted without thinking and didn’t mean to offend you. Maybe this was an act of omission not of commission. How about saying to yourself, “Give her some grace.”

“I could do that, but she was the one out-of-line.”

“That may be true. However, the incident is over. Dwelling on it serves no good purpose.

Reliving drama keeps it LARGE AND ALIVE. It’s in your best interests to SHRINK THAT STORY and make it SMALL AND OVER.

The way to do that is to have a pro-active, positive mantra like “NEXT” that helps you mentally move on and focus on what’s right in your life instead of what’s wrong.

How about you?

Has someone said or done something to you that was unfair, unkind or undeserved?

Have you found yourself re-living what happened and getting more and more upset?

Have you tried to stop thinking about it, but can’t?”

If so, take these steps.

1. Speak up to correct the situation vs. suffering in silence. More on how to do that here.

2. Take tangible steps to prevent this from happening again.

3. Replace “That person makes me so mad” or “I can’t stop thinking about this” with:

· “It’s over. NEXT.”

· “Oh well. ONWARD.”

· “Shrink it. MOVE ON.”

Henry David Thoreau said, “Life consists of what a man is thinking all day long.”

We may not be able to control what is said or done to us, we CAN control how long we choose to dwell on the drama and what we choose to tell ourselves about it.

Select thoughts/stories that serve rather than sabotage your quality of life.

It’s one of the single best thinks we can do.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create mutually-repsectful commyunications. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and on NPR, and presented to Intel, Capital One, NASA, Boeing, YPO, Cisco. Want Sam to speak for your group? Contact


What We Accept, We Teach

Are you in a situation that makes you unhappy? Have you tried everything to make it better but nothing's worked? Are you staying because it seems too daunting to leave?

We often think an unhealthy, unhappy situation only affects us. No, it's affecting everyone around us. We're teaching them THIS is what a relationship looks like. THIS is how people treat each other. THIS is what life looks like ... people suffer but don't do anything to change things for the better.

I remember one deeply unhappy woman who told me, "When I got married, I took vows for 'better or worse.' Well, this is definitely worse, but I'm a Catholic and no one in our family has ever gotten a divorce, so I'm stuck. It is what it is."

We may think we’re doing the “right thing” by staying in a situation where we’re deeply unhappy.

We’re taught that winners never quit.

We're taught to keep our commitments – for better or for worse.

So, we stay.

We stay in a job we hate to "pay the bills."

We stay on boards and committees with non-stop in-fighting because “it is what it is.”

We stay in a toxic marriage “for the kids.”

The thing is, when we’re deeply unhappy, we’re affecting the people around us, whether we intend to or not.

We have to ask ourselves, “What am I teaching by staying?”

Am I teaching my kids that THIS is what marriage looks like? Two adults who don’t even like each other? Who bicker and co-exist in a loveless relationship?

Am I modeling that this is what a career looks like? Sacrificing decades of our life at a soul-sucking job to provide for our family? If you ask the kids in those families what they want, they’ll often say “We don’t want you working all the time and coming home exhausted and angry every night. We want you to be happy.”

Am I teaching that this is what it means to be on a committee or board? People jockeying for position, embroiled in personality conflicts, spinning their wheels and not getting anything done or making a positive difference?

Am I modeling that the “responsible, right thing to do” is to stay in an unhealthy, unproductive situation even when it’s not adding value?

Wouldn’t it be better to model it's our responsibility to create a healthy, happy life?

Wouldn’t it be better to be teach - that if nothing we've tried has improved a situation - we find/create something better so we’re honoring the time we have left?

Wouldn’t it be better to demonstrate wisdom by leaving a consistently abusive relationship and seeking one where the people involved treat each other with respect?

Isn’t that what we all want, need and deserve?

Isn’t that what we want to teach?

Isn’t that what we want for our loved ones and what they want for us?

Happiness sets up a ripple effect. So does unhappiness.

What ripple effects are you setting in motion?

If you won’t replace a toxic situation with something more positive for yourself, will you do it for the people who are watching and learning from your example?

Please note: I’m not suggesting we act impulsively or irresponsibly. I understand there are circumstances where we do what we don't want for a certain amount of time because it serves a greater good. What I'm suggesting is we stop waiting for things to get better and start initiating sto make them better ... now, not someday.

One day or Day One. You decide.

(And if you're in a toxic relationship that is causing the unhappiness, you might find this article helpful. It has questions to help you decide if you're dealing with a toxic 5%er who is not motivated to change because they want CONTROL, not cooperation.)

Day Right Quote #60: Our Quality of Life Is Directly Proportionate to Who and What We Give Our Attention To

One time, while discussing how to keep our peace of mind no matter what in a Tongue Fu!® workshop, I put up a power point slide with "No one can make you unhappy or upset without your consent" ... an adaptation of Eleanor Roosevelt's quote "No one can make you FEEL INFERIOR without your consent." A gruff construction boss stood up in the back of the ballroom and said, “Sam, you’re pulling a Pollyanna with this one. You have no idea the kind of people I work with. Do you mean if someone’s YELLING at me, that’s not supposed to make me mad?”

A woman raised her hand and said, “I agree with this because I’ve lived through it.

I’m a surgical nurse. I work with a neurosurgeon who’s a bully. He's the most abrasive individual I’ve ever met. He’s a brilliant physician, he has zip people skills.

Last year, I was a fraction of a second late handing him an instrument in surgery. He berated me in front of my peers. He humiliated me in front of the team. It took all my professionalism just to continue with the operation and not walk out.

On the drive home, I kept thinking about what he had done. The more I re-lived it, the more upset I got. When I got home, I sat down at the dinner table, told my husband what happened and said, ‘That doctor makes me so MAD.’

My husband had heard this before. He said, ‘Judy, what time is it?’

‘7 o’clock.’

‘What time did this happen?’

‘9 o’clock this morning.’

He said, ‘Judy, is it the doctor who’s making you mad?’

And with that, he got up and left the table.

I sat there and thought about it.

I realized, it wasn’t the doctor who was making me mad. The doctor wasn’t even in the room.

I was the one who had given him a ride home in my car.

I was the one who had set him a place at my dinner table.

I decided that never again was that doctor welcome in my home or in my head. I was no longer going to give him the power to poison my personal life. From then on, that doctor was staying at the hospital and never again was I going to allow him to ruin my precious time with my family.”

Who do YOU take home with you?

Who do you give a ride to in your car?

Who do you set a place for at your dinner table?

Can you decide, right now, that person is no longer welcome in your home or head?

Can you get really clear that you are no longer going to give that person the power to poison your personal life?

From now on, can you leave that person at work (or wherever you encountered him/her) and never again allow him/her to ruin your previous time with your loved ones?

Our quality of life is directly proportionate to who and what we give our attention to.

Our peace of mind is in our mental hands.

There are many people who choose to show up with integrity, who choose to add value.

There are many things right with our world, many blessings for which to be grateful.

If we want a life where the light is on in our eyes, let’s give our attention to the blessings, not the burdens, to what's right with the world vs. what's wrong. Let's choose to focus on the people who act with compassion and treat others with respect, not on those who don't.

quality of life middle best