WTF is the Drama Triangle??
Are you aware of what the drama triangle is and how it's ruling your life??
It's actually quite relatable to the Matrix.
If you're familiar with The Matrix trilogy, there is a moment near the end of the first movie where Neo ACTUALLY figures out what 'The Matrix' is, and how it works. During the fight scene where Neo was left for dead by Smith and the Agents, Neo was revived by a kiss from Trinity. He then awakens in The Matrix to turn around and find bullets being shot at him once again. But this time was different. His mind finally clicked and he was able to completely see and understand the code. Thus allowing him to stop the bullets in mid air and pulverize Agent Smith in the same breath.
Now, what exactly is the Drama Triangle, and how is knowing this "Matrix code" going to set you free from yourself?
The Drama Triangle was first described by Dr. Stephen Karpman back in the 1960’s. It is comprised of 3 main roles. All three of the roles are— The Victim, the Rescuer(hero), and the Persecutor(villain). They are VERY fluid and can morph easily into one another. All of us have a favorite, and its usually the role that we assumed most often as a child. Most of us are pretty good at all three of them. However, its situation dependent.
My personal favorite was Rescuer, although I also did a pretty good job as the Victim from time to time. I felt strong and proud, but most importantly, I felt needed. As I have been dissecting my past, like REALLY getting down to those pain point seeds that were planted in my past, I have noticed that most of what I did was to seek acceptance and validation from others. Essentially, I was always seeking approval in hopes that everyone would like me.
There is a downside to being a perpetual Rescuer. The chronic stress of constantly monitoring how everyone else was doing is utterly exhausting. I was never available to take care of my own needs.
That’s when I’d slip into the Victim role.
I’d feel sorry for myself, since no one seemed to appreciate how hard I was working to take care of them. Which made me feel angry and resentful. Before I knew it, I’d be pulverizing my self esteem with self limiting thoughts and beliefs along the lines of, "I'll never being good enough for anyone. I must not deserve it."
I'd disguise THESE feelings with being a smart-ass, overly sarcastic, and/or argumentative. (and this is where the persecutor comes out).
See how the drama cycles from role to role?
All three have their incentives. It feels good to be a Victim. We get a lot of attention (for a little while anyways). We don’t need to take responsibility for our actions or their consequences, because we can always find someone else to blame for them. Often we may even receive help from others.
Being the Persecutor can feel almighty and powerful. Especially for someone who does not know how to ask, or make sure their own needs are met. We get to “blow off steam,” and usually get to have our way for a while. But what does this cost us?
Exhaustion and inner peace.
Doesn't this sound like a tiresome way to live? All of these roles are driven by anxiety and the habits we have learnt to feel a sense of “control” in our lives. The drama keeps us absorbed and leaves very little room for real peace and contentment in life. No room left at all for a truly healthy relationship to flourish.
Now for the golden question - how in the hell do we stay away from this toxic drama triangle when the majority of people, even unknowingly, play this game?
To put it simply, become aware of the game. How it works, and how to play. Establish which roles you yourself most frequently play. What role did you play as a child? Can you identify the roles that others in your family played? Are they still playing them?
The Rescuer is quite often the easiest to admit to. I mean, who doesn't want to sound like a "hero?" However, this is not genuine compassion. The bottom line is that it's truly about having control and being in someone else’s business. Thus creating a distraction to disregard our own.
With being the victim, we are constantly looking for others to blame. Thus releasing ourselves from our moral obligations and responsibilities.
Last but not least, the Persecutor. If anger and irritation are your choice emotions when things go wrong, this is most likely the role you're currently sitting in. Even if it's something not easily admitted. In reality, the anger is just a mask for underlying fear of feeling vulnerable. The unfortunate reality is that adult Persecutors most often were Victims as children.
In the drama triangle there are no good guys and bad guys. Everyone loses.
Once you’ve become aware of your patterns, it becomes much easier to recognize the game and how to play your way out of it. Being that the drama triangle is mainly about being up in other people’s business, stepping out of it requires you to simply, step out, recognize what's going on, and change your approach.
- Coach Wolverine