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Drama Queens

by Lindsay, for SOL, December 2002

Pre-programmed patterns and the stories we tell ourselves

I was talking to a girlfriend the other day. She had received an email from a mutual acquaintance, cataloguing a history of personal disasters and I got to wondering a) why this happens and

b) why my friends reaction was more sympathetic than mine.

Now, before I start sounding like a completely unsympathetic old boot let me say that I am not talking about the rotten things that happen during life, like death and third world starvation. I am referring to 'Drama's' - the avoidable ones! Have a look through you pals and I will bet that there is at least one who has had a series of rotten relationships with the opposite sex. Relationships where they always come out of it the worse for wear, de-valued, traumatised, and confused. Quite often I feel the same after just listening to their sorry tales. So why do they keep repeating the same patterns and it that the same as a drama?

Well the answer is 'probably not' although they may be interrelated for the individual. Let's have a look at patterns first. You may remember me mentioning before that we are all born with a set of loaded (in all meanings of the word!) programs? This is way a new duckling will waddle off to the water and a baby snake will put its tongue out to sniff the air. Well, we all have these programs too and they are often based ultimately on a biological need for our species to survive. This does not mean that by challenging them you won't survive - and this is the difference between basic instincts and the world as it has evolved. As we go through life, we develop our own programs based on our experiences and beliefs and quite often we are less than kind to ourselves, judging ourselves to be not worthy of happiness, success, money or any of the other good things in life. If you are in a position where, due to pre-programming or even just your own programming, you choose an emotional fuck-wittage partner (thank you Bridget Jones and sorry, Mum) when you were looking for permanency and commitment, there is likely to be little in the way of peace. Now if that's what you want, fine, but if not, you need to make a different choice somewhere along the line. I find I have little time for those misguided individuals who do not bother to look at the 'fruit of the tree'. Whatever anyone says, it is always as well to look at what they do and how they are. Those with habitually 'light fingers' are unlikely to make the best club treasurers however good their book keeping exams were!

Here is an amazing fact - some people lie - not just to themselves, but to others, too: however, you don't have to believe them just because they said it. Here's another amazing fact: some people are such keen manipulators, that they will do or say anything to get their own way! We don't need to be gullible - have a good sniff around and you will soon learn to distinguish between Channel No 5 and boiled cabbage. Being wise does not necessarily equate with being suspicious and lacking trust.

'So why did he marry me?' asks an anguished wife after hearing that her husband had just eloped with a Guardsman? Well there are any number of potential answers: he could have been trying to prove to his parents / work mates / peer group that he was straight. He may have fancied a change. He may have fancied the deserted wife at one stage. He may have been brought up to believe that everyone gets married. The important thing is that the potential reasons are limitless and the wife will probably never know which is the truth, - and lets just have a look at that intriguing word. When people talk about 'Truth' we usually have a remarkable ability to see it in black and white, but in reality, everyone has their own truth and 'Truth' in the cosmic form is a rare as hen's teeth. Your 'truth' is likely to be yet another choice and this is where terrible family problems can occur when parents try to force their 'truth' onto their children or indeed when anyone tries to force their truths on anyone else. That's how come politicians have such fun!. Now, back to the story, here is where the change can occur. The wife then has to decide whether:

she was so enjoying the drama / attention / intrigue that she will set up another, and probably fairly quickly or
it focuses her mind so that she is quite clear on another occasion and makes different choices or
she doesn't understand what has happened but does not intend to put any spadework into finding out.
If she goes for:

she will go straight for another drama, even if the characters and story line change
she is very likely to have an encounter with her fairy godmother who makes all of her wishes come true i.e. she makes a positive choice and is happy with the outcome.
she will ricochets straight into the same pattern all over again with a different closet gay
For those of you who are saying, she may decided to opt out of relationships altogether, I would answer that this is either a) another drama where she was so hurt that she became lonely and bitter or b) a positive choice with which she is happy.

Ages ago, an old friend told me 'If you always do what you always did, then you'll always get what you always got!' and isn't that the truth? It would seem that some people do not understand the part that they themselves play in their own lives. In order to get something different, we have to make a different choice.

Now lets have a closer look at 'Dramas'. I will be the first person to confirm that often the nicest people that you ever meet can turn out to be real Drama Queens. (DQ's - and for those chaps who are reading this and feeling smug, let me say that DQ's can just as easily be men!). 'How do all of these terrible things happen to such a lovely / pretty / kind / generous person?' we ask. Well one of the things that we need to understand is that we all to a greater or lesser extent live our lives by proxy. This is why 'Soap's' are so popular, and it is also why we all tend to look at car crashes on the motorway, slowing down so much that we cause a delay in the opposite direction. We can have the thrill, the 'hit' of the emotion without the problem of the issue that brought it about. But to a greater or lesser extent, we are all addicted to strong emotion and it certainly adds spice to an otherwise dull day. As soon as you understand the attraction of emotion by proxy, the potential dangers, along with the appeal, seems to diminish proportionally.

In the days when the world wasn't so certain, I suspect us humans got all of the excitement we wanted just by doing our best to stay alive, but this is not the case for most of us in western society today. It is so easy to see how drama become an addiction for both the individual and the person(s) who 'buys' into it. It is so easy for our friend's emotions to become ours by proxy and we can enjoy their dramas as much as they do. So they come to us with the next drama, and the next, and possibly the one after that as well. We go on 'buying' into their dramas and they go on producing them for both of us. And so it goes on. So to come back to the initial question of our mutual acquainting, my friend was still buying into the drama and I wasn't. If I am being brutally honest, I stopped buying into the acquaintance's dramas when she once failed to get the sympathetic response from me that she wanted and chose to become hysterical. Hence I used the term' acquaintance' and not 'friend'.

Do I have drama's myself, I hear you ask. Sure I do, and I'm mainly into the I-don't-necessarily-trust-myself drama. The 'Where-is-my-ticket / purse / credit card / passport / car' sort of drama. Believe me, I have hours of fun - and that led me to thinking about why I have chosen this sort of drama as opposed to any other. I discovered that the drama of choice is directly linked with the stories and fantasies I tell and have about myself where I am the hero / villain. Like my pre-existing programs or learned programs, these have little to do with 'truth' or logic and a lot to do with fear about not surviving and. And there's the biggest laugh of all, all of this effort we put into surviving, and I can guarantee that none of us will get out of life alive!

It seems to me that we all spend a lot of time telling ourselves stories about ourselves that we then have to live up to or disprove. And even when we persistently disprove a story, there is no reason why we still cannot continue believing it - such is the power of choice! So according to me, I am an airhead who forgets / looses items and generally screws up, unless I spend all this time (and have the benefit of the emotional adrenaline 'hits'), checking. It is so easy to see how this could become a pathology and how easy it is to get into compulsive behaviour. With regards to my story telling / fantasising, just imagine what could happen if I told myself that I was a femme fatale, the saviour of mankind, a sad git or a person who had no material interests. Believe me these are not among the most extraordinary of the stories: look at that chap in the car commercial who has nothing better to do on the way to work other than fantasising about the little girl he saves from the path of an oncoming truck. The hit is being 'The Hero' that he clearly isn't in his real life. How sad it that?

It gets worse as we look at other people and attempt to classify them as 'the sort of person who is / does / thinks etc'. All this does is:

a) gives us as false sense of understanding them because we've classified them

b) gives us perceived and impossibly high targets to live up to (if we 'look up' to them)

gives us perceived and quite incorrect parts of life to avoid at all costs (if we 'look down' on them)

The stories we tell ourselves about others are likely to be equally as untrue as the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves.

Now, I would be the first person to agree that you have every right to choose your own truths, stories and fantasies, but be aware of the type of drama's you are likely to pick if you choose to be a DQ or a dedicated follower of your patterns. And remember that your own truths, drama's and stories are exactly that. Nothing more and nothing less and hours of fun for all the family!

I am going to sign off now as I have a letter to post (if I can find the stamps and my car keys)…I wonder what I did with my passport and camera?

Have a good month

Lindsay


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