Opt-Out of Drama

May 6, 2022

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I'm Kelley — licensed therapist, burnout expert, and host of the Black Girl Burnout podcast. I encourage black women to opt out of struggle and opt into our legacy of joy and accomplishment. Join me!

Meet Kelley


Today I want to talk about how to opt-out of drama. Every time I think about drama, I think about Mary J. Blige’s song “No More Drama.” I picture Mary J., and I think about all that she has endured and overcome along her journey. So in this episode, we are going to talk about ways to make your life drama-free. In order to achieve this goal, we must first address the ways that we may be subtly inviting drama into our lives. Here is my question to you, are you addicted to drama, or are you ready to be fully drama-free? Let’s talk about it.


Welcome to the Black Girl Burnout podcast Kelly here.

Today I want to talk about how to opt out of drama. Every time I think about that phrase up that drama, I think about Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama,” and I picture Mary J, if you’re Mary J fan, you’ll understand this. I picture Mary J doing her marriage, a dance, she’s always so entertaining to watch. But Mary J is incredible. And one of the ways he’s he’s incredible as she talks about no more drama, and she really means that there’s an authenticity in her singing that I’m just like, there’s no other, like Miss Mary J.

But really, the concept of that song, no more drama, is exactly what I think so many of us are looking for. And nothing keeps you locked into the struggle more than drama. And so today, I want to talk about ways to to make your life drama free. And also, and more importantly, probably ways that we subtly keep drama around. I think we all would agree and we all felt it, whether you’ve heard the Mary J Blige song or not, we’ve all been in a point of our lives. And we have said to one of our girlfriends, one of our friends, a partner, I just want out of the drama, like it’s just too much drama around here. And get, I feel like we sometimes end up in situations where it’s like, how did I get here?

There’s drama at every turn. And so this episode is for you, if you have been struggling to get out of drama. And yet you feel like sometimes drama is everywhere you turn or drama seems to find you. And honestly, I don’t really know too many people who don’t have that experience. I know I’ve had that experience many times. So I want to talk about how we can opt out of drama. Because we want to opt into joy and nothing kills joy like drama. And think about the subtle ways we may be inviting drama into our lives.

So to start with, I will tell you that I also am, I think the best way to to describe it is I’m a drama addict in recovery. Hi, my name is Kelly. And I spent a lot of my life addicted to drama. Now, if you would have asked me this, even five years ago, I would have said, No, I’m a really chill person. And I am not addicted to drama at all. And on the outside people would have been saying, you know, Kelley is calm, like I’m not a person. Like I’ve said before many times in this podcast, I’m pretty happy go lucky as a phrase that says, I’m pretty easygoing, I’m always with a smile on my face.

But when I examined my life and I think about where drama was, it was an every corner of my existence. And just because I wasn’t dramatic, I’m not someone screaming at a partner on the street. I’m not fighting with people in a restaurant. I’m not doing really dramatic things. If anything, I’m, believe it or not, I’m a little more of an introvert and I don’t like attention being on me. But I had to learn that that actually didn’t mean I wasn’t addicted to drama, because when I looked at my friendships, I’m like, my friendships were dramatic. I would say to people all the time, my goodness, this person is dramatical is what I would say. My job was ridiculous. I worked in a prison system. Okay. I was the only black employee at one point in a maximum security prison. That’s drama. Every day, every single day was dramatic. I had moments where I was afraid for my own safety. I had moments of true laughter with something happening and then five seconds later, something bad happens and ruins the whole month for me.

I chose men. I mean, you could just if you could just see my face right? When I think about some of the men that I chose for myself. trauma situation ships and I don’t even know what’s happening and why can’t this person just say they want to be with me? drama. I had drama in my work. I had drama in my friendships. I had drama in my relationships. I had drama at my job draw I’ma drama and drama. And yet, I sounded the way I sound. I spoke pretty commonly, I wasn’t super quick tempered. But I suddenly had drama everywhere. And I made me really think about as I got much older, how I was suddenly signaling to people that I love drama.

I think about like the GIF that says for Marie Kondo. This is I love mess. The famous organizer, I had a t shirt that said, I love mess, give me mess. And I was doing it a couple ways. One was like the emotional diet, what I was feeding myself was drama, I was fully bought into the myth of the strong black woman, I was fully bought into the fact that love had to be hard, and there had to be some huge obstacle you had to overcome. So you had to have a partner that just wasn’t even feeling you. And then if you worked really hard, they’d like you, you had to have a partner that was riddled with tragedy, that they had people who were passing away, or they were ill, or they had some baby mama drama, or whatever the issue was. But I really locked into the belief that black women, when it came to relationships, had to find partners that were equally struggled, and that you had to struggle to get them to see you or love you, or treat you respectfully.

And I want to be clear, I didn’t have a lot of disrespect in my life. But I sure had a lot of drama. I had a lot of will they won’t they drama, does this person like me. And it kept me spinning. Always emotionally. I would say now that I know the words, emotionally dysregulated my nervous system was all over the place. Right? It kept me locked in cynicism, I was just not believing things could be anything more than struggle. I was fully opted in. Again, my T shirts of I love mess. Then I looked at my friendships, they were uneven. I mean, I was doing all the things I was getting my cape on and being super woman and picking up the phone in the middle of the night and helping people get away from partners who weren’t healthy and, and helping this person who, you know, is having a mental health crisis, often. I was fully in drama. I never thought about what it could be like to have a friend that showed up. For me. I didn’t believe it was possible. I believe the message. But it was my role in life to struggle and to give. Because I also not only was a strong black woman, but I was a strong black woman martyr.

And so I believed it was my role to just deplete myself for others. And while I had a calm, quiet home, where I’m like, occasionally lighting candles, and listening some music and just laying and having a chill moment and vibe, I would frequently bring people into my home that were loud and destructive and break things or borrow things and never return them. And then there was drama in my work. I already told you I worked in a prison system. But even after I left that job, which was dramatical, to say the least. I never had a job that wasn’t drama. I had clients who were threatening to harm me. I was barely stopping to go to the bathroom or eat at my job. Even telling you this, like I can feel myself feeling all those feelings of trauma. And I don’t unload all that on you to like dis regulate your nervous system. And to be like Kelly, I’m triggered right now, by all that you’ve just said. But I say it to remind you that there are subtle ways we bring drama into our world, even as we ourselves actively say we don’t want drama. How we undermine that.

The other way we do it is is how we again, feed ourselves when it comes to popular culture. I love me a good TV show. I love me some good music. But I think about what I listened to and what I watch. Was my music diet. mostly positive songs, or was it mostly negative? Did I listen to heartbreak songs over and over on repeat? Sure did. Did I listen to songs about Go get him and tell him about himself? Sure. Did. You Did I watch TV shows where I laughed at the misfortune of others, that when I saw people’s relationship mess, I thought it was hysterical. Now I want to be clear. I’m not saying that listen to love songs and listen to songs about empowerment and telling some partner to get to get it together, that that’s a bad thing. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t watch reality TV or that you shouldn’t laugh at some people’s ridiculousness. I mean, it is meant to be entertainment.

But what I am asking you is to think about how often you balance that out with feeding yourself. Hopeful stories, hopeful music, hopeful books, how much of your life is surrounded by peace, and peaceful things, things that make you excited again, opting out of struggle. And opting into drama gives you access to joy, and it gives you access to more more of the good things in life. If you were surrounded by drama, if you are fully opting into drama, what can you do?

Well, what I want you to consider and this all also your healing practice for today is to think about where in my life? Could there be drama, and really do an inventory? Think about at work? Are you constantly having conversations with your co workers where you’re talking about the latest, most ridiculous thing that happened today? Are you having meetings where every single meeting you go to you’re like, This is just ridiculous? These people are disrespectful. I’m constantly feeling like I have to prove my worth every day. When you’re in a relationship, are you thinking about the fact that you spend more time putting energy into how to get your partner to behave the way you’d like them to behave? To treat you the way you’d like to be treated? Than you are just enjoying the relationship? Are you when it comes to family and friends? Are you constantly feeding into the poor behavior of others? Are you constantly permitting family members to break boundaries? Are you constantly the one bailing out your friend and hearing their drama all day long?

Take an inventory and ask yourself those questions and see where there’s drama in your life. And where there is drama in your life, I want to do the second step of opting out of drama. I want you to write about what would peace look like in that area of your life? So if it’s family and friends, what would piece look like? What would the ideal relationship they’re literally like that you instead of having to calm them down at midnight, as they’re screaming about something that happened to them, that instead you and your your best friend or your the best people in your life, you all have standing happy hour and you exchange your wins.

And yeah, when might be I got rid of a partner that was disrespectful. But I’m proud of myself as to how I did it as drama free as possible, that you all are gathering and celebrating, you’re going on great girls trips, you’re doing all the things and you’re smiling. When you see each other, you’re smiling more than you’re not. And that when bad things do happen that are unavoidable, you are there for each other. Think about what piece feels like what the ideal outcome is of a partnership, what they do for you, how you give and take with each other. Think about what work looks like what a drama free workplace looks like.

And well for some of you that you may be sitting there saying, I don’t know how to think about that. I don’t know if that’s possible. I want to challenge you to push yourself to think about what a drama free workplace is. And then step three, once you’ve identified what the ideal is in that area of your life, that’s dramatic.

Step three would be small ways to bring more peace into that situation. At work, it could mean excusing yourself when co workers start going in on each other or going in about your job or consistently talking negative. And I want to be clear when I talk about this, that doesn’t mean what your coworkers are talking about is not true. It could be every single thing coming out of their mouth could be 100% accurate. But feeding yourself on a steady diet of negativity isn’t going to change your workplace. So maybe it’s opting out of gossip and opting out of that conversation, maybe it’s putting more energy into finding a mentor to be able to help you negotiate your salary, versus having a conversation where you say, my job is trash. Maybe when it comes to relationships, you start to build healthy communication styles.

You take it upon yourself to learn a few key phrases you’d like to say, to start a conversation, or planning a really great romantic date night. That is a mixture of fun and great positive conversation. Think of small ways to inject that ideal into your life to give you peace. And when I give these recommendations, I want to be clear to you I give them because I’m working on them. Your healing journey and your healing practice today is the same healing practice I’m doing for myself. I have to regularly check that I don’t let drama back in my life like I had it before. I was miserable. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t my best version of myself. So opting out of drama, changed things for me. So think about that healing practice.

Step one, thinking about where you might have drama in your life. Step two, thinking about the ideal, what would that area of your life look like if it was drama free? And step three, what’s one small thing you can do today? To have you opt out of travel?

Well, that’s it for today’s episode of the podcast. You can find this podcast across all major platforms, please subscribe so you can catch each episode. Also, as we build this international, beautiful community. If this podcast touches you in some way, please share it across your platform with your friends and others who you think might benefit from this message. And lastly, if you are moved to do so please feel free to like the podcast rate the podcast leave a review. I would so appreciate hearing from you. Until we speak Next, take care of yourself and take care of each other.


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Are you a black woman who has been feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and confined to the struggle? If so, the Black Girl Burnout podcast is here for you. Journey along with host Kelley Bonner as she interviews guests and shares personal anecdotes about productive ways to opt-out of struggle and opt into happiness,  while navigating the unique challenges and joys of being a black woman in today’s world. From work and relationships to self-care and mental health, this podcast is a safe space to explore and find support along the journey towards your goals. Join our community and start feeling more connected and less burnt out.

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Special thanks and appreciation to the team for all that you do! 🧡

Producer  – Wendye Walter

Creative Director – William Cornell

Associate Producer – Amanda St. Maur

Cover Art – Reignland Creatives