3 Ways You Can Support Loved Ones Without Getting Sucked Into Their Drama

Laura and Nate both had two teenage boys and very demanding careers. The constant disagreements at home – especially with their older son – caused a lot of aggravation. The cost to their family relationship, energy level, and health was huge. Nate was tired all the time because of lack of sleep, and Laura couldn’t concentrate on her business because she was worried about her son’s life choices and his relationship with his dad. They were both at their wits ends when I first met them.

We’ve all been there, caught in the middle of a “he said, she said” argument, having to deal with yet another family crisis or some other overblown drama that pulls us in multiple directions, drains our emotions and just plain makes us exhausted.  We want to help, but how do we do that without getting pulled in and putting our own physical and mental well-being in jeopardy? How do we stay connected and supportive in our personal relationships when drama occurs and still perform at our best in our professional life?

Here are 3 ways that you can be supportive yet still maintain your sanity:

  1. Set boundaries. This is probably the most important thing that you can do in these situations.  What boundaries you choose are up to you.  It could be as simple as setting a time limit for how long you spend with that person, or as elaborate as telling them that if they do something specific you don’t like (e.g., negative talk about a favorite aunt) you will leave.  Most importantly, don’t feel guilty about saying “no” and sticking to the boundaries you’ve set.
  2. Listen, but don’t react. Have you ever watched two people argue?  The more emotional one person gets, the other will usually take it up a notch until it ends up in a screaming match, which usually leads to things best left unsaid and even more drama.  The best way to avoid getting sucked in is to be empathetic – listen to their issues but if at all possible don’t pick a side.  Try to point out solutions, be upbeat, and helpful.  Don’t get caught up in the negativity.  And if all else fails, see #1 above.
  3. Remember it’s not about you. This may be the hardest of all to implement – especially when emotions are running high.  No matter what is said or done, it’s important to keep in mind that the situation is not about you – it’s about them.  So if they say something nasty or negative about you – perhaps because you are setting boundaries or not buying into their logic – they are most likely trying to get a response out of you and draw you into the drama that is unfolding.  Keeping a level head and staying calm can go a long way to defusing the situation – and actually helping all parties involved.

Whether it’s drama at work or at home, keeping these three strategies in mind can go a long way to helping you stay sane, and even relieving some of the drama and tension involved.  You also might want to find support and tools from an outside source.  If you need help working through life issues, reach out to Dali, the Unstoppable Growth Coach here.