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What Is Drama? Four Signs & Four Questions

Drama is an energy vampire. It sucks the life of everything in it’s path. Some people seem energized by drama, almost like they enjoy it. Drama can be addicting and seductive.

What, exactly, is drama? Here’s my working definition:

Drama is what happens when people misuse the energy of conflict to struggle against themselves or each other, with or without awareness, to feel justified about their negative behavior

Let’s break it down:

1. Misusing the energy of conflict

Drama misuses the energy of conflict generated by the gap between what we want and what we are experiencing. Drama doesn’t create anything healthy or productive.

What else could you do with this energy?

2. Struggling against ourselves or each other

Drama is an adversarial relationships, a power struggle where there’s always a winner and a loser. Sometimes it goes on inside our heads and includes voices from our past. Sometimes it goes on between people.

What if you struggled with others instead of against them?

3. With or without awareness

Our habits of behavior when we are in drama are often unconscious. We’ve been doing this for most of our lives. We learned it when we were young and have repeated these unhealthy ways of getting attention thousands of times. Most times we don’t even have to think about it. The worst is when we know better and we do it anyway.

What drama habits are you repeating just because that’s how you’ve always done it?

4. To feel justified about negative behavior

I don’t believe most humans get up in the morning wanting to do bad things or hurt people. But when conflict happens or we don’t act in the most uplifting ways, we want to make excuses or run away from the negative feelings it causes. So we justify. We play mental gymnastics to somehow make it OK when we say hurtful things, compromise our own boundaries, or insert ourselves where we weren’t invited.

What frightens you most if you can’t justify your behavior or attitudes?

Nobody is immune from drama. We all do it now and then. You can interrupt drama at any time by becoming conscious of your behavior and taking responsibility for your choices.

Things to ponder

  • What’s your perspective on my definition of drama?
  • How would you answer the questions above?
What Is Drama? Four Signs & Four Questions

Nathan Regier

Nate Regier, PhD is CEO and Co-founding owner of Next Element, a global leadership communication firm specializing in building cultures of Compassionate Accountability®. A former practicing clinical psychologist, Dr. Regier splits his time between writing, speaking, training, consulting, and developing Next Element's global network of certified trainers. He is co-developer of the Leading Out of Drama® training and coaching system for positive conflict, and has authored two books on drama and conflict; Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires, and Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide For Leading With Compassionate Accountability. Nate is a certifying master trainer in the Process Communication Model®. He lives in Newton, KS, is married and has three daughters. Learn more about Conflict Without Casualties here.

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APA Reference
Regier, N. (2018). What Is Drama? Four Signs & Four Questions. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Nov 2018
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