It’s so common to hear the word drama thrown around these days.

There was too much drama.

She always causes drama.

I don’t want to deal with the drama.

I think this may be one of the legacies of reality TV, the idea that humans interacting with each other is DRAMA.

But the truth is, drama is only ever in your brain. No one else can cause drama for you.

It doesn’t matter what they say or do. It doesn’t matter if they shit-talk you to your boss, if they cry in a meeting, if they get drunk and pass out in your living room, if they bang your boyfriend.

No one else can cause drama. Only you can cause drama, because drama only exists in your own mind.

“Drama” is just an interpretation, an opinion, a thought you have. It’s a label you apply to someone else’s words or actions.

When you think something or someone is drama, how do you feel? Well, you feel all riled up! Right? You feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. So who is really causing the drama?

That’s right. The call is coming from inside the house. Your brain is the only thing capable of causing drama for you. Other people’s words or actions are not drama, and they do not cause drama.

The problem with blaming other people for causing drama is that when you misunderstand the problem you can’t come up with the right solution. When you think other people create drama, you try to avoid them because you’re blaming them for your feelings.

That works as long as you can control who you are around. But soon enough, there’s going to be someone in your life you can’t avoid. Like your boss, or your new sister-in-law. And if you believe that they can “cause drama,” then you’re going to always feel stressed and out of control around them, and then feel emotionally exhausted from interacting with them.

I recommend the opposite—don’t avoid people who “cause drama,” spend time with them. The people you think “cause drama” are your greatest spiritual teachers. They trigger all your negative thoughts, and you’ve completely abandoned your emotional responsibility for yourself around them.

By spending time with them, you’ll get access to the thoughts that are causing the negative feelings you’re labeling “drama.”

If you want to create less emotional drama, stop telling yourself other people cause drama. You’re the only one causing your own drama.

The same goes for anyone you think is toxic. This is such a common term in todays’ self-help world, and it’s so misleading.

Unless someone has radiation poisoning, they aren’t toxic. People cannot be toxic. Certain chemical compounds can be toxic, but people cannot. A “toxic” person is just someone you find it stressful to be around. But you know what causes stress? Your thoughts.

You are the one who is toxic to yourself. No one else is toxic. And by the way, that’s true of places and environments. Chernobyl is toxic. Your office is not, unless you work at Chernobyl.

When you take emotional responsibility for yourself and your thoughts, you don’t have to fear any kind of workplace, boss, friend, great aunt, or anyone else. Because you know that you are in charge of how you think and feel. No matter what.

When you think “my workplace is toxic,” you feel toxic, poisoned, victimized, and sick. But your workplace just exists—it isn’t toxic. It’s your thought that it’s toxic that causes so much suffering.

Pay attention this week and notice how often you are telling yourself that someone is dramatic, or causes drama, or someone or something is toxic. Notice how it feels to label it that way. Do you want to label it toxic? How does that serve you? Does it motivate you to take action? Or does it motivate you to complain, feel helpless, and numb out?

If you want to escape toxic relationships, just stop calling them toxic. Because they aren’t. They’re just other people you’re labeling that way, and it’s your own thoughts that are poisoning you.