“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 Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com.


Lesson #3 From My Year by the Water: Stop Driving Into Hurricanes!

The very first day of my adventure, I was driving to Chesapeake Bay to stay in a beachfront home a friend had graciously loaned me. The only problem? A hurricane was also headed there. As the winds whipped up and I could hardly see the road through the rainstorm, a thought bubble appeared above my head, "Why drive into a hurricane?!" Why to keep my commitment, of course. That's what I was taught to do. We keep our commitments - no matter what. . But this was unsafe. Maybe under the circumstances, it would be okay, even advisable, to "break a promise?"

I called my friend and told her I had changed my mind. She didn't hesitate, she said, "Good decision. There will be another, better time to stay at the beach-house."

An hour later, I was safely ensconced in a historic B & B in Annapolis, half-asleep under a fluffy down comforter. What a relief.

My epiphany? "Where else in my life am I automatically keeping commitments - out of habit or "integrity" - that were made long ago that are no longer relevant or healthy? Where else am I honoring promises I made to people who don't care if I change my mind; they may even applaud or be grateful for my decision?"

My friend Mary LoVerde says this has become a "go-to" phrase in her family. When she or one of her kids is about to head into a stormy situation, they stop and ask themselves, "Am I driving into a hurricane?"

If we know in advance we're heading into a hot mess, and we're doing it simply because we said we would, maybe it's wise to NOT DO IT. Maybe there are other options that are a win for all involved.

Sometimes it's not selfish to break a promise or opt out of a commitment; it's smart.

You may be thinking, "But we've got to keep our commitments. That's they only way people can trust us."

That makes sense and that's what I thought for thirty years. However, this experience opened my eyes to the fact that keeping commitments - no matter what - is not always optimal.

Honoring our "word" is an important characteristic. But a strength taken to an extreme can become our Achilles Heel.

If a relationship or commitment is not working anymore, if it's become toxic or stormy; if you wish you hadn't made this promise and want to change things; why not have a conversation with your client, colleague or partner to get their point of view?

Maybe they feel the same way. Maybe they have an idea on how to adapt or update the agreement so it works better for all involved. Maybe, together, you can come up with a more current, effective course correction and collaboration that benefits both of you.

A colleague told me this phrase, "Are we about to drive into a hurricane? WHY?!" has become part of their family lore.

For example, her daughter and son-in-law dreaded going to his parents' house for Thanksgiving because it was always a war zone. It was a day of uncles, aunts, and cousins all complaining and at each others' throat. Not a pleasant way to spend a holiday, yet this couple went year after year out of a sense of obligation. Even though it upset them to be in the midst of such conflict; they kept doing it because they'd made a commitment.

This past year, they got creative. They got in touch with his folks and invited them to join them on a different weekend at a timeshare they'd purchased. Instead of spending money on traveling to his parents' house for Thanksgiving, they offered to pay the grandparents' way to join them at this beach resort.

What a brilliant solution. The kids were happy because there was plenty to do at this oceanfront property, and the parents and grandparents were happy because they had together time without juggling everyone else's personalities and demands.

Next time you're about to drive into a hurricane, ask yourself, "Why? Are there options I haven't explored yet?"

You just might discover a better route, a new route, that bypasses the drama and trauma and ends up being a win for everyone.

stop driving into hurricanes