Jumping off The Drama Triangle!

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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.

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How I Relate To You!

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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 A True Friend?

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Friendships are a priceless gift that life grants us. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have a handful of good friends, you are truly blessed. A good friend is meant to bolster you; to encourage you to be your best self. A true friend is not intimated by your grand nature. I true friend only wants and strives for your ultimate good. A genuine friend sees your short comings and encourages you through them instead of just pointing out what is defective in you. That friend knows your good intentions and lovingly helps you to grow into your best self. Your life is better for having this person in it.

With a good friend you work through difficult times together; not abandoning the other because times are tough. A true friend is one of your anchors in life that help to calm you when the water’s waves are tumultuous. This friend aids you in claiming yourself in this universe. If you have several friends like this thank them today. If your friendships don’t give you these gifts then maybe you need to consider them more of an acquaintance rather than someone to really bear your soul to. Being the active director of your life requires that you be able to judge which friendships encourage you and which are more of a burden.

I emplore you to be picky about the ones you call your close friends. Your friendships ‘mirror’ you! They are a reflection of who you are. What do your friendships say about you? Be discriminative with the ones you allow to be in your close circle as it is your responsibility to yourself to surround yourself with those that have your best interest at heart. Trust your intuition about your relationships; it is usually correct.

Moreover, what kind of friend are you? Do you display these qualities to the ones you call friend? Receiving this support merits giving this support. What a wonderful experience it would be to both give and receive this with another; true friends indeed!

Who Is The Hero In Your Life?

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Last night I watched a very powerful and moving movie called “The Butler”. Along with many feelings and thoughts this movie conjured within me it brought to mind how many courageous people it has taken to create change in our world. It is a wonder what makes these individuals so willing to sacrifice everything for what they believe is fair and just. Whether it is innate personality characteristics or environmental factors or both that motivates these amazing people, I don’t know. I do know that these individuals will be remembered forever.

While certainly the thought of great people that have changed the world may bring you to think about Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart and the many others. However, I am thinking about different individuals who may have been that powerful to each of us in our lives. Who has it been for you that you believe has made a significant impact in your life. Who has been there for you; sacrificed for you; took a stand for you? Who are your heroes’ in your life? Great people of the world are not only the ones known at a global level. There are many, many individuals who have effected change in each of our lives. They may not be nationally recognized, yet there impact is unforgettable.

And what about you? How are you having positive impact in someone’s life or in this world? We each have many opportunities to do this throughout our lifetime. Whether you are an activist for a cause that is close to your heart, or a grandmother that is raising your grandchild; both are noble endeavors. Being a hero in someone’s life or in the world can be done on small or grand levels. How are you being a hero in your world? Sometimes you may not even realize the impact you are having in someone’s life. As I conclude, I hope you will claim the truth that you have a hero within you!

Are You Satisfied With Life?

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There seem to be many people these days that express a general dissatisfaction with their lives. Often they seem unclear about how to change or even wonder if change is possible. We all get into “ruts”; however, I am speaking more of a perpetual feeling of discontent If you are struggling with this feeling you may be living in a reactive versus proactive manner.

What do I mean by the above statement? You are being reactive when life happens and you ebb and flow wherever and whichever way it takes you. Life and all of its circumstances control you. When you approach life more proactively you are alert and consciously aware of your needs. When you are proactive you take the initiative and responsibility for directing your life. Of course there are many aspects of life one can not control (natural disasters, deaths, etc.), but I am talking about being proactive in attitude; a general stance towards life. A proactive person will not let life and its happenings win.

In what areas of your life do you need to take more responsibility and ownership? I have developed what is called “The Circle of Life” which describes various components of your life. These areas are: emotional, social, physical, spiritual, occupational and intellectual. Emotional entails your emotional and mental health. Social includes all aspects of your social lives, such as, close friends, acquaintances, lovers and family. Physical includes your physical health and also your need for physical touch and also your sexual self. Spiritual is about seeking your highest level of spiritual truth and growth. Occupational involves all aspects of occupational well-being and balance including one’s financial security. Intellectual has to do with your minds need to be stimulated and enhanced.

The “Circle of Life” is best when seen as a whole. If you are lacking in any area and especially if you have a deficit in several areas, then you probably feel unsettled or discontent. I find it useful to review this “Circle of Life” at a minimum every six-months as a kind of ‘self-check” on how you are doing. It is meant to help you take responsibility for the areas that are out-of-balance so you can feel more fulfilled. This is a constant challenge to balance your life so you can be as content as possible.

If you allow yourself to stay stagnant and do not take responsibility for the areas in which you are most lacking then you will usually feel like a victim. Victims generally feel powerless and believe bad things are being done to them. It’s unlikely that anyone would feel fulfilled with this kind of outlook or approach to life.

Protect Your Spirit During This Holiday Season!

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Before we can talk about how to protect your spirit during the holiday season we need to have some clarity on what it means when we speak of our spirit. I am guessing this conjures up various ideas. How does one describe their spirit? According to TheFreeDictionary.com spirit is defined as “the essential nature of a person”; the vital principle or animating force within living beings”; “incorporeal consciousness”. What does this mean for you? How would you describe your spirit?
What do you think it means to protect your spirit? One definition of protect is “to keep from being damaged, attacked, stolen or injured; to guard,” from TheFreeDictionary.com. I think this covers the essential meaning of protect. It is your job to know what types of situations may hurt or damage your spirit or what type of situations are just not you and therefore may need to be avoided or at minimum prepared for in advance.
With this in mind, one of the first things that can benefit you around the holidays is to surround yourself with people who accept and like you and your spirit. Maybe these are the types of people you will already be around during the holiday season. If so, what a blessing! If, however, the people you will be spending the holidays with are not so accepting, then I encourage you to saturate yourself with those who do accept you prior to your holiday events or travels. Fit these accepting people into your schedule. Whether this means having a dinner date with them prior to you traveling or before the event you’ll be attending. Or maybe it will be to stay in contact with them via phone, email, or texting while you or they are away
Equal in importance is to be as prepared as possible for what you might face during the holidays. One way to do this is to scope the place out! Know what you’re getting into. Be prepared and take responsibility. Is this going to be an environment that is more safe than not? Some situations (like families) are ones you have experienced often so that you understand the dynamics enough to know what to expect. Some situations are new so you do your best to get a sense of what the occasion will be like ahead of time.
Lastly, dress for the occasion! If you are going somewhere that feels very safe and accepting then by all means, go for it! Wear your best and most colorful outfit or dress drab and comfy, whatever is you. If there is some risk or if it is unsafe for your spirit then wear your protective gear! Don’t let it all hang-out. It is your job to protect yourself and stay alert.

Friendships That Help You Grow

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Friendships are one of the priceless gifts that life grants us. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have a handful of good friends, you are truly blessed. A good friend is meant to bolster you; to encourage you to be your best self. A true friend is not intimated by your grand nature. I true friend only wishes for and strives for your best. A genuine friend sees your short comings and encourages you through them instead of just being critical. That friend knows your good intentions and lovingly helps you to grow. Your life is better for having this person in it.

With a good friend you work through difficult times together; not abandoning the other because times are tough. A true friend is one of the anchors in life that helps you to claim yourself in this universe. If you have several friends like this thank them today. If your friendships don’t give you this then maybe you need to consider that person as more of an acquaintance rather than someone to really bear your soul to. Being the active director of your life requires that you be able to judge which friendships encourage you and which are more of a burden. I encourage you to be picky about the ones in your life you call “friend.” I have always said that your friendships ‘mirror’ you! What do your friendships say about you?

Moreover, what kind of friend are you? Do you display these qualities to the ones you call “friend?” Receiving this support merits giving this support. Be this gift to another. There are plenty of people and places that one can find judgment. Your close friends need your acceptance and encouragement more than anything. Practice being a positive influence in your close friend’s lives. Be the friend you want them to be. Practice patience, warmth and encouragement. In the end you will not only be a blessing to that friend but will find that you are receiving as much from being this friends as you do from having this kind of friend.