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Drama Mamas: Control freak


Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

We continue to receive the results of advice that we have given over the course of this column. But we're greedy and we want more! If we have answered a letter from you and you want to participate in our roundup column, please email us at

We received the following letter a couple of months ago. It is impossible for us to answer every letter in a timely fashion, unfortunately. Still, we hope that this can still be of some help. Note: "Control Freak" was the subject of the letter writer's email and that's why we chose it as the title, not to be judgmental.

Hi Mamas,

I write to you with an issue that is very close to my heart. It deals with the very essence of my personality, so please don't be too harsh with me.

I'm a control freak. I can't help it. I have to know what's going on, by whom, when it's happening, how it's happening, why it's happening, etc.

This wasn't an issue when I was an officer of our guild. Our guild is very tight and I like to think I handled my role well, by always knowing the plans for the weeks ahead. I would always know who would and wouldn't be attending raids and why; what strats we would use and why the old one would being scrapped. I'd make conversation with everyone in the guild and be personable as it made my job easier and everyone friendlier. However, through a series of events that's too long to go into, we're now under a new guild tag with a lot of the same people -- but under new management.

Now I am a regular raider. I am no longer privy to the basic information I used to have at my fingertips. I feel so uneasy when the raid forms and it's not the usual raid. I can't help but ask, "Raider1's not here, we're short a healer? Who's healing instead? Does that mean we're still going for heroic sindy tonight? What are we doing instead?"

Of course, the leaders already have it all under control, but I feel so helpless not knowing in advance! If something happens in the raid that doesn't make sense to me, I speak up, in case it's an error (because it has happened in the past). For example, a resto shammy was awarded enhancement gear as he was enhancement for that particular fight. This isn't our usual loot rule so I questioned what was going on. After a relatively short (slightly heated) discussion, our leader says, "Will you just trust me! I have it under control!"

Obviously, my questioning is getting on people's nerves, but they're too nice to say so. Our leader apologized to me for snapping, and I assured her that I wasn't trying to question her authority -- just understand what was going on. Can you help me find a happy medium? When is it OK to ask questions about things? And above all, when should I just learn to bite my tongue, swallow my anxiety and let the leaders do their thing? In case it's not obvious by now, I feel very strongly about this. Just staying quiet when I'm bursting to ask, or when I want to give someone a suggestion, is one of the hardest things for me to do.

Sincerely awaiting your advice,


Drama Mama Robin: Replaced, I've been there. Not in WoW, mind you, but for many years I wanted to "help" by pointing out inconsistencies and verifying information and otherwise coming off as a picky, know-it-all, pain-in-the-butt. I still struggle with it. We have the best intentions, but make no mistake: we come off as picky, know-it-all, pain-in-the-butts. Here are a few things I've tried to help me relax when I'm stressing about the details I can't control::
  • Never question in public. If you can't help yourself and absolutely have to ask questions about the situation, please never, ever, ever question the leaders in raid, guild or any other public chat. Keep your questions to whispers so that the leader can answer on his own terms. Otherwise, you are shaming and disrespecting the leadership -- whether you mean to or not.
  • Keep a journal. You seem to have overall confidence in your new raid leadership, but are just fretting over the details. The best way to quiet your mind is to collect hard data. Record all of your questions that are bothering you. All those things you ask in your letter, ask them in your journal and then wait and see how they play out. Once you get the answers to your questions (from what happens, not from asking), write them down. Over time, you will see a trend. Are the raids actually going smoothly, with most of the details worked out in a timely manner even without your input? If yes, you should be able to relax a bit more, referring to your hard data as needed. If not, you know to offer your services to the leadership or move to a different guild (and start all over again as a non-leader).
  • Practice some relaxation techniques. Yeah, yeah, I'm a hippie. But doctors and therapists really believe in relaxation therapy as well. If you're stressing out over these things you can't control, then try breathing through it. Here are some breathing exercises to try, or go for yoga breathing or a Tai Chi method or whatever. Breathing is good and it really does help.
  • Accept your position. If you truly accept the fact that you are not in control and aren't going to be in control (particularly if you keep questioning the leadership), it can be a relaxing experience. Being a cog is definitely less stressful. You have no responsibilities except for your own words and actions -- the only things you can truly control. Try to let go and embrace your lack of responsibility.
  • Focus on you. Be the best raider you can be. Work on improvements for your rotation, your UI, your reactions -- we all can do things to get better. Focus on your preparation and performance and you'll have less time to worry about what the leaders are and aren't doing.
I really think that if i can do it (most of the time), then you can too. Good luck!

Drama Mama Lisa: As always, Robin has some wonderful ideas. I've spent the past few weeks helping one child maintain his sanity through an accelerated driver's ed course and the other pick her way through high-pressure classical piano competitions over an entire month's worth of weekends -- so right now, I'm in Keeping It Real mode. Here's what I would tell my kids if they came to me with a similar dilemma:

You know what to do. You're telling us outright that you know what the problem is, you know how you're contributing to it, and you know that you need to change your behavior.

Yes, this situation is hard. It's uncomfortable. You'd like a way not to make the way you feel now easier to take. Your new role is not going away, though -- and like driver's ed and piano competitions, if you want the license or the prize at the end (an enjoyable guild experience!), you've got to buck up and do what's required. For you, this means being a good guild member, not a good guild leader. Think about what you appreciated about guild members back when you were a leader. Be that guild member, not only in what you do not do but also in what you do do.

I say to you then, Control Freak: take control! You're no control freak at all if you're not controlling the one thing you can control best: you.

Time to get busy!

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at

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