Somewhere around the age of nine, I came upon the realization that I am a drama queen. It wasn’t so much of a self-realization as it was my mom constantly mentioning how dramatic I was, usually followed by a big sigh, an eye roll, and an under-her-breath chuckle.
On the outside, being a drama queen is fun sometimes - it’s part of my personality (read: I’m fun!). But the voice inside my head can be even more dramatic- and not always in the fun way. While I’m all about feeling my feelings, the inner monologue that accompanies those feelings... well, that can get a little sticky.
According to Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor in her book Stroke of Insight, our body’s reaction to something in our surrounding environment lasts, at most, 90 seconds. That’s it! 90 seconds isn’t that long. In fact, it’s about as long as we should be washing our hands these days. Scrub-a-dub-dub, and voila!
The idea here is that anything that follows that ninety second time frame is us choosing to relive that reaction - to grab ahold of it, pick it apart, and let our thoughts and judgements go haywire. Aka: The Drama.
In a workout class on Friday, the instructor had us doing each exercise for an entire song. After about four different leg exercises, she had us come down onto our backs and press up into a bridge for some glute work. My reaction: RAGE. My legs were burning and on the brink of spasm, my low back was tender, and I was tired. I went back to my usual drama queen inner dialogue: I can’t believe this instructor. Who does this beautiful woman think she is?! This must be an evil plot to make all of us unable to sit on the toilet tomorrow.
I was spending so much time and energy (beyond the 90 second threshold!) overreacting that the cluster of opinions and analytics were draining me of the fuel it would have taken to just do. the. damn. bridge.
Eventually, I tried to turn things around by getting my inner drama queen to be a little less hypothetical (She’s trying to hurt me!) and a little more observational (It’s my body and I’m the boss, and this boss is taking a break). Because the mind needs a job, I gave it something to do: list what I knew to be true. Things like: I’m doing the bridge! This is hard. I’m taking a break. I’m doing the bridge again! Nope, taking another break!
And afterward, I proceeded to savasana until the end of time.
We get to choose. The thing, or the drama about the thing. The grading papers, or the I don’t want to grade papers. The grocery shopping, or the I hate this, I don’t want to be here. There are no free samples?! Why! Am! I! Even! Here!? The thing is what’s real- what’s actually happening- and the drama is the story we create in our heads.
It’s hard out there- maybe we conserve our energy where we can. Maybe we wait out the 90 seconds, spritz a little ‘Drama-Be-Gone,’* and spend our energy where it’s really going to pay off: the grades, the groceries…
...and the glutes.
*along with your Clorox, Lysol, tea tree oil, hand sanitizer...you get the gist.