Jumping off The Drama Triangle!

blog off triangle
Knowing what you think, feel, need and want is an essential key to staying of the dysfunctional drama triangle. Today is the promised follow-up to last week’s blog which gave you a brief introduction to the Karpman Drama designed by Steven Karpman. Please review that blog prior to reading this.

My initial advice is that you become more familiar with the positions on the drama triangle so you will be more attuned to patterns in yourself, your relationships and others. Most importantly, be clear about your primary; or starting gate position. Know more about the specific ways that you can be hooked in to that position. This is especially challenging with on-going relationships where you may have been actively functioning in your primary position and are now making conscious attempts to discontinue that way of relating to the other.

For the rescuer one of the primary ways of being drawn into your role is guilt. Guilt is a good cue to you that you may be falling back into your helper-fixer role. Give yourself permission to feel guilt without having to act on it. The person or persons you have been rescuing are likely to make statements that will produce the guilt feelings. Learn to handle being uncomfortable. Remind yourself that it isn’t your responsibility to always be available when someone asks for something. You can say no.

Also important for all positions including the rescuer is to start identifying your needs, feelings and wants and begin to ask for you need to be met. Ask for help when you need it. Admit that you do sometimes need it. Allow yourself to form mutually vulnerable relationships. Learn that your needs, wants and desires are okay and not selfish.

Getting out of the persecutor role is often a great struggle for the person in this position. It involves a great amount of risk. You have learned to survive by using strong denial skills. You will need to stop blaming everyone and everything else. You will need to begin to face yourself and your vulnerable feelings. You will need to take responsibility for yourself and feel your uncomfortable feelings. Taking ownership of how you have hurt others is also difficult for many. Learning to build relationships that you can feel safe enough to take the risk of being human and being someone’s equal.

You are capable and worthy would be a new tune to hum for the victim. It is time to start taking responsibility for your life; your choices etc. You may need to seek professional advice, read come good self-esteem books or join an empowerment group of some kind. Building confidence in yourself and your decision making abilities is essential. This isn’t about being perfect. Life is a process of trying and then trying again.

Being conscious of the dynamics of the drama triangle is a wonderful tool to help create and maintain healthy relationships. As long as you continue with this dysfunctional way of relating you will never truly be happy. We each come alive to our self when we see and honor who we truly and what we rightfully need and deserve.

How I Relate To You!

drama triangle
One of my favorite tools I use on a daily basis to monitor my interactions with others is called “The Drama Triangle,” by Stephen Karpman. While it is nearly impossible to give full credence to this wonderful perspective in a short blog, I will do my best to give a concise overview.

All dysfunctional relationships take place on the Drama Triangle. It describes specific ways one relates to others. There are three positions on this triangle: persecutor, rescuer and victim. While only one position is called victim all positions are actually victim positions of sort. We each have a primary position that tends to dominate our interactions. The “starting gate position,” as named by Karpman is the one we learn from our history and shows up in most of our relationships.

Imagine an upside down triangle. On the upper part of each side of the triangle are the persecutor and rescuer. On the bottom is victim. The persecutor and rescuer are on top because they are both one up positions. Both of these positions require a victim to sustain their position on the triangle. The victim is in a one down position.

The rescuer is the classic codependent. This person is the savior, mediator, helper, fixer, etc. The rescuer has to have someone who needs them to sustain their position. Helping others is how this person defines who they are. Rescuers grew up not getting their emotional vulnerabilities met or validated. So they hide these emotional vulnerabilities by appearing needless. They secretly keep hoping that if they keep giving and giving, one day someone will be there for them. Their greatest fear is that no one will be there.

The persecutor sustains their one up position through domination. They have to have someone to blame. Hence a victim is necessary for the persecutor to project their unclaimed weaknesses on. Persecutors do this in various ways; lecturing, teaching, blaming, yelling ect. Persecutors are always right. Their greatest fear is being out of control. Persecutors were often raised in abusive shaming households and sometimes take on the qualities of their abuser. This position is often the hardest for one to take ownership of because the persecutor sees them self as a victim who is just trying to protect them self.

The victim position is one in which the person has given up or not claimed their God given ability to make decisions and trust their own competencies. Instead they look to others to guide and lead them. Often victims were raised by a strong rescuer. Victims eat a daily venue of shame and believe they are intrinsically defective or bad. The language of the victim often includes a lot of “yes, but…”

As you read this brief introduction to the three positions on the Karpman Drama Triangle which one do you relate too most? Is it easy to pick your primary position? The ultimate goal is to identify your pattern and learn to grow and change so you don’t fall into these dysfunctional ways of relating to others. Next week I will describe how to get off the triangle.

What Is Your Athentic Self?

authentic self
Can you describe your authentic self? Do you know what it even means to be your authentic self? Your authentic self is the real you; the genuine you. There are many contributing factors from your history that could have prevented you from being your true, authentic self. So, what do you think? Do you know your innate, authentic self?

Try listing the qualities of your authentic, true self. For example, here are some of my authentic qualities: outgoing, welcoming, encouraging, inviting, open-minded, loves being in groups, expressive. These are just some. However, in my history I was shamed for many of these qualities. I was taught that I was too much; that my personality was too big.

Therefore, throughout the years I have struggled to be whom I most authentically am and to learn to accept these parts of myself. On the scale of outgoing I am at the very high end. As I have aged I have learned how to honor who I am within the bounds of society and others. Many are intimidated by my strong personality qualities.

Most important is to identify and take ownership of your authentic self. If you are not sure, I encourage you to take time to learn. Without this I don’t believe you or I can be truly happy and free. Next is surrounding yourself with people close to you that accept, embrace and love you for your authentic self.

If in your most significant relationships your authentic self is not accepted; is put down or shamed and you adjust yourself; you try to accommodate the other for acceptance this will have a very adverse effect on you. This person could be your partner, parent, sibling etc. In effect, you are basically denying and shaming your essence. If this continues for too long you may forget who you really are. Burying your authentic self is a form of dying; death. In turn produces depression.

I encourage you to save yourself. Start remembering who you really are. If you don’t know, get some help. As you dig your true self out from the grave you will come back to life. Then slowly you can figure out how to be your genuine self in your relationships. If you find that being who you really are with those closest to you brings great fear, that is normal. Seek support from wise people who can help you begin to take risks or set boundaries in those relationships. Never dim your light for someone else. Shine your brightest!

What Does It Mean To Be Spiritual?

In my book I describe something called The Circle of Life, which describes various areas of our lives that are important and need to be in balance. One area is one’s Spiritual Life. This aspect of the circle entails seeking your highest level of spiritual truth and growth. For many of us this area is associated with our religious life. That certainly can be a big part of this piece. However, I want to broaden that view. According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, spiritual can mean “of or relating to sacred matters; ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal; relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit; concerned with religious values.” There were several more definitions too. You can see that spiritual life is more than just the church we attend.

Abraham Maslow created a concept called self-actualization. He spoke of self-actualization as a person’s innate need. Self-actualization, he proposed, is our need for the full development of our potentialities. I believe this is our highest level of spiritual growth. Developing our spiritual self involves deepening our self-knowledge and taking time to cultivate our creative selves. Igniting your creative potentials opens you up to new learnings and insights. This involves becoming more spontaneous in your life. This will mean something different to each of you.

In her book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron states, “Creativity is an experience-to my eye, a spiritual experience. It does not matter which way you think of it: creativity leading to spirituality or spirituality leading to creativity. In fact, I do not make a distinction between the two.” I love this view that the more we are each aware of our creative selves the more potential we have to reach our fullest spiritual being.

If many of the other areas of our life are out of balance, it is often hard to have a sound spiritual self. On the flip side, if we have a firmly developed spiritual self, it can help us survive various crises in the other areas. What does your spiritual life mean to you?