When it comes to your family, your job, or your life, do you ever find yourself trapped in “The Drama Triangle” of a Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer? And have you ever thought about where you fit into that drama and how many roles you may be playing? Today, I want to share with you how to change all that drama into something productive.
Since the beginning of time, there has been drama in humanity. Psychiatrist Stephen Karpman, MD, observed that, basically, there are three roles in every drama, which is where the term Drama Triangle comes from. As we look at each of these roles, be thinking about which role you most often fall into.
The Victim is the central figure in any drama. I call it the “poor me” syndrome. Victims always have an excuse, seek sympathy from others, and are unwilling to take responsibility for what happens to them.
Every victim must have a Persecutor. The Persecutor is often a person, but it can also be a condition or circumstance, like an illness or life-changing event, such as the loss of a job. The Persecutor often tries to control situations by interrogating, lecturing, blaming, or being critical of others. The Persecutor’s language can be overt—“it’s all your fault,” “why did you do that?”—or covert, “I do everything around here.” It’s possible to be a Persecutor and not even realize it.
When a Victim encounters a Persecutor, they look around for a Rescuer to save them. A Rescuer is likely a person, but can also be in the form of an escape mechanism, like alcohol, overeating, or gambling. The Rescuer thinks he/she must “fix” things for the Victim. A Rescuer loves to feel needed.
Being aware that you’re stuck in this Drama Triangle and which role you’re in, is the first step to overcoming the drama. To do that, you must shift into a more productive role. The Power of TED: The Empowerment Dynamic is a book written by David Emerald and is the antidote to The Drama Triangle.
The Creator is the central role in the Empowerment Dynamic. Unlike Victims, Creators work deliberately to deal with their current reality while moving toward the life they intend to create. A Creator takes full responsibility for everything that is showing up, moving from reacting to choosing.
Challengers push Creators to learn new skills, make difficult decisions, and do whatever is necessary to achieve a dream or desire. Unlike Persecutors, Creators welcome Challengers. Challengers look at a situation, seek the higher learning, and elicit a response versus a reaction.
And, finally, rather than looking for a Rescuer, a Creator often seeks a Coach. Unlike a Rescuer, a Coach doesn’t just do the Creator’s tasks. Instead, a Coach helps leverage the capabilities of the Creator and teach, encourage, and stretch them. A Coach asks questions rather than simply providing answers.
To sum it up, to minimize the drama in your life and lean into the life you really want to have, the mindset shift you need to make is from Victim to Creator, from Persecutor to Challenger, and from Rescuer to Coach.
The next time you catch yourself in “The Drama Triangle,” reflect on which role you’re playing versus the role you want to play and choose to make the switch!