We live in a drama-filled world, don’t we? Every where you look there’s some lofty, disingenuous, exaggerated, or tone-deaf statement being made in the form of advertising, television, your highly self-conscious coworker, or your Facebook feed. I went into Starbucks and on their menu board was a picture of a few drinks that said, “Crafted by hand and heart.” I rolled my eyes and thought “I’m sure that $10/hr barista is putting a lot of heart into the 20th peppermint mocha they’ve made today.” I open up a Restoration Hardware catalog and see a ridiculously self-righteous letter penned by their CEO about all of the adversity and moral-victories the company had this year. It’s a furniture store mind you. I turn on sporting events and the announcers make it seem like a game-winning shot is the equivalent to storming the beaches of Normandy. The absurdity that we see lived out on a daily basis is just too much some times.
The worst part of all of the drama is that it’s easy to slip into some of the same dramatic behaviors we see modeled for us daily. We watch dramatic movies and television shows and expect the world to operate in the same way. We hear commentary that shapes our views of events, often causing us to misjudge or misinterpret their significance. Recently, I’ve picked up on this pattern in my life. I’ve caught myself at times acting as if I expect dramatic resolutions to problems or accolades for successes. Of course I don’t actually expect an MVP trophy for doing a good job at work or expect some tear-filled celebration for solving an interpersonal conflict, but sometimes I’ve acted like I do. The issue is that real life doesn’t work that way.
So I asked myself, what could I do to break from the patterns of dramatic, over-the-top thinking while living in a world that clearly isn’t changing? As the apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Ch 12, vs 2) I knew I needed to focus on renewing my mind and transform my thinking. I needed to wire out the toxic, dramatic thoughts and replace them with renewed thinking. To do that, I went out looking for resources that could help me. I found a book by Dr. Caroline Leaf, called Switch on Your Brain that provides a framework for eliminating toxic thinking. I started following her framework and day by day found myself thinking more-positive, less-dramatic thoughts. While I still have a long way to go in this area, my mind is in a much better than it was before. I’m more aware than ever of the types of thoughts I don’t want to have and I have greater discernment when it comes to navigating the “drama” this world is filled with. I believe this is God’s desire for all of His people. Jesus says in the book of Matthew: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Ch 5 vs 14-16). If you’re stuck in a pattern of dramatic thinking, you too can be free of it. I’d encourage you to seek out resources for eliminating toxic thinking so that you can be immersed into the thinking patterns God has designed you for. It’s up to you to take the first step, but you can do it!