Connecting with Stories – Episode 3
Every time I get pissed off with my husband, I imagine a scene. If he is out late, partying, I would imagine myself turning away from him, sulking, and using the choicest words against his behaviour. Sometimes, I would even imagine an entire revenge sequence where I come home late after partying with my girls. I repeat these imaginary sequences inside my head, often rehearsing the sentences that I want to spray out.
What happens in reality, is different, but not very different. I do sulk, and my husband does pays attention to it. But not in the way that I imagine he would. He neither apologises for his behaviour, nor does he promise not to repeat his actions. What he does, is very calmly put forward his reasons for doing what he did, and berate me for creating unnecessary drama.
It is then that I try to act like the adult that I am, and understand his point of view. When I go to sleep later, there is always a little voice inside my head that goes – was this entire drama necessary? I immediately retort back to the little voice – couldn’t you have told me earlier?
Why do we create drama?
In my previous post, I had written about the need for drama. But we have all reached the point where we are aware that we are over-doing that part.
My sister-in-law’s imagination goes on an over-drive every time she begins to think of possible situations that could happen to her daughter on the way home from school. When is it that she begins to think this way? It used to happen every time she heard about a kidnapping. Then that news, and child molestation, and now it has snowballed into a situation where my brother has banned her from logging into her FB account.
We create drama around our “wants”, “fears”, and “anger.” Take the instance of the drama that is Facebook. We create a drama over our vacations, first day at work, last day of school, outing with friends, breaking news, and just about everything else.
What is our “want” here? We want to fit in, we want to display, we want to express an opinion. What we are doing is emoting. And the more we emote, the greater is the drama. All it takes is one video to make us laugh, cry, show fear or shake with anger. And all it takes is one photo to make us happy or send us into a jealous fit.
Where do these emotions lead to?
The stronger the emotion, the greater is the brain’s connection of that emotion with the corresponding information.
Imagine this. You watch a video of a few babies reacting to the taste of lemon. Of course, You find it funny. You laugh and maybe forward the video or leave it at that. The funny “feeling” is not strong enough for your brain to make an association with the video. On the other hand, you watch a video of a toddler being scolded by his parents for not writing out his assignment. What would your reaction be – disgust at the parents for abusing such a small child, and anger at the school for burdening the young mind.
After this, we react to our emotions. We rage over the parents and the school. Then we begin to make a list of every school and their homework schedule. After that, we sign petitions asking the school managements to reduce the homework load. Once this has been achieved successfully, we complain about the negligence of the school in providing regular homework for our child. And that is how we get back to square one.
Think about how many times we have done this – how many times we have lost our cool without learning the details, and without trying to understand the other side. Emotions are not only the cause for great revolutions, they are also the cause for unnecessary drama.
How does this happen?
The brain makes strong connections by practice. That is how we remember how to cook a dish, the next stance in karate, or the multiplication tables. Another way the brain makes strong connections is by releasing chemicals when we emote. That is how we can remember births, deaths, great moments and failures.
Every time I remember my parents, my memory passes momentarily through their deaths and then into whatever incident it is that I want to remember about them. It is the intensity of my sadness over their passing away that has left that impact on my brain. So, any memory about my parents will also always be attached to the memory of their deaths.
The result is that every time I think of my parents, my feelings will always be bitter-sweet. And that is the drama that the mind plays.
What is the impact of this drama?
A drama creates a very strong memory. That is why we are able to recall the story of Harry Potter better than the food that we ate last night. While we have the retained the capacity to disassociate with the drama that is staged, we have adapted the inability to disassociate from the drama that is played out in real.
While every human being is different from the other, we are also all the same, connected together through the intelligence of humanity. This connection has become stronger through globalization and the internet. That is why a bombing in a small town somewhere in Syria is decried by the entire world.
When we begin to emote over the tragedy that strikes a stranger, imagine the sheer volume of emotions that would run through us when we and our loved ones are personally affected.
The impact of drama is that our brain is always running on an emotional mode. The side effect is that this will render us incapable of taking rational decisions.
How can we control this drama? Find out in my next post
Time for us to turn inward for some introspection;
- Have you ever over-imagined a situation?
- What are your triggers for over-imagination?
- How many times have you done that?
- What were your feelings when you dramatized an incident?
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