Are You Responsible For Your Relationships Problems?

drama triangle

Do you feel like you’re always doing all the giving in your relationship and rarely getting anything in return?  Do you ever feel that know matter what you do it will never be good enough.  Are often irritated by people who don’t have much common sense?  Maybe you are living on the 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 unhealthy 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 commonly in our relationships.

Imagine an upside down triangle.  On the upper part of each side of the triangle are the positions of 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 often grew up not getting their emotional vulnerabilities met or validated.  Therefore 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 believe they 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.

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Another Takes Their Own Life!

young girl

For many of us who live in Pinellas County it was just yesterday that we read in the local newspaper about a young, talented local girl who recently graduated valedictorian and was attending a prestigious university who apparently jumped to her death.   And not long prior to this tragedy a local teenage boy who was a very talented swimmer and from all accounts was jovial and happy, ended his young life.

While I don’t know the specifics of either of these individuals’ situations it breaks my heart that so many of our teenagers don’t make it into adult hood.  I don’t want to age myself when I say “times have changed!”  While during my teenage years their certainly was a lot of drama that occurred and, yes, there was competition amongst students for various reasons.  It seems to me that the pressures on our young kids today is amplified compared to the days of past.

It isn’t just peer pressure; we currently have higher educational demands.  A weighted GPA’s above 4.0 is common.  Now dual enrollment is seen frequently.   College admission requirements are demanding more of their applicants.  The increase in pressure in the sports arena is also evident.

I am not saying some of the changes that have occurred in the educational and sports arenas’ aren’t good.   However, one may wonder if we as a culture have gone too far with these increased demands.  As adults we know the pressures of today’s world.  In theory, we are supposed to be more equipped than our adolescent children to handle these multiple stressors.

And so I ask; what are we to take away from these local tragedies and the many others all around the globe?   Since most of us don’t know the families immediately touched by these losses, what can we do to help?   Maybe we could each choose to be a little kinder to those around us.  Maybe the next time someone accidently cuts you off in traffic you can be more patient.  Or you could be more patient in the grocery line, perhaps even let someone who has less groceries go ahead of you.

My kids often get embarrassed by me because they say I talk to too many people.  They will even ask me why I have to talk to everyone.  And my response is “why not?”  What’s wrong with being friendly?  In essence, maybe we adults can move slower and be more mindful of those around us.  We can take less for granted and be thankful for what we do have instead of focusing on all we don’t have.

And those of us who are parents I imagine we can be as alert as possible to the surrounding of our children. Also, to focus more on the positive traits of our children and point out the many things they do correctly.  How easy it is to notice all they do wrong, sometimes it’s almost second nature.

So today I implore each of us to notice the positive before the negative.  Share with those in your life what you like before sharing your complaint.  Be more encouraging than discouraging.  And pray for those who are suffering that they may reach out for support and that support will be given.  For whoever really knows the soul of another!   Here is one of many links if you want to learn more about suicide prevention:  http://www.apa.org/research/action/suicide.aspx

 

 

 

What Makes a Good Father?

emotional intelligence
It seems only fair that since I wrote a blog about mothers close to Mother’s Day that I give equal honor to this upcoming Father’s Day. It is interesting what emerged for me as I was pondering on the idea of what a healthy father might be like. I realized that this person I am describing would be rather “new age” if you will, in the sense that I don’t think many of use experienced a father that embraced all these characteristics. But, you may prove me wrong.

If I was going to nutshell what I think would be essential features in a father I would say that he would have at least an above average amount of emotional intelligence. If you haven’t heard this wording it is worth looking it up to gain a better understanding. A father who is more emotionally intelligent is aware of his and others emotions and also able to regulate his emotions in reference to others and situations.

While traditionally many would say a good father is one that provides well for his family; is a hard worker and a good disciplinarian. While these qualities are admirable and fine the child also benefits from a father who is able to be more emotionally present. A dad who can share emotions (and not just anger) with his child is a wonderful gift. A father who is able to honor and comfort the child’s many emotions validates the child.

Following in line with being more emotionally open is being able to verbally and physically express kind, loving words and physical gestures to the child. Hugging often; saying I love you on a regular basis. A father who is consistent and reliable in showing these qualities to not just the child but also to his partner, family and friends is what makes him genuine.

So am I sounding like we need a mother for a father? Segregating different roles to the mother and father is no longer in the best service of the child. Both parents need to own what we have traditionally called feminine or masculine qualities. So, do we all possess this capacity?

Psychologist still debate whether emotional intelligence is something one can learn or if it is strictly a genetic tendency. While I know our innate temperament does affect this ability in each of us, I can’t help but believe that these important qualities can also be learned if so desired by the one lacking them.

In raising three boys I have witnessed the differences that are biologically rooted. I have one boy who is naturally more expressive with his feelings. However, I have seen how the lineage of my children’s father and his father and his father’s father has travelled generationally shaping the boys in this family. It is my hope that more parents will break down the barriers of traditional roles and learn to embrace the whole of their being.

For Those To Whom Mother’s Day is Not So Joyful!

wounded heart

You read of those thanking their wonderful mothers for all the unconditional love and support they have received from her. How their moms were such a great example to them. How blessed they were to be loved so unconditionally. And, they truly were blessed to experience the rightful love of a mother.

But this is in honor of the many folks who didn’t have that kind of mother. Those whose mothers where too troubled to be consistent. Mothers that were sick. Mothers who hurt them verbally, physically and mentally. Mothers who abandoned them. Mothers whose addiction overshadowed everything. Mothers who tore them down more than built them up. Mothers who used them for their own comfort. Mothers that left a lasting void that seems to forever linger.

This is for those of you that relate. Those that struggle on this day. This message is a reminder that you are not alone. There are many of us. This is written to affirm to you that it wasn’t your fault and you did nothing wrong. This is to encourage you to remember on this mother’s day that no matter what the injury was that you incurred from your wounded or absent mother, you are good. You deserved the love you hear about. Be kind to yourself today. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that it wasn’t your fault. Seek support from those in your life that are available for you in a loving, consistent manner. You are worthy and you are remembered. You are not alone.

Savor The Moment!

Thoughtful1
There are many stages in life that each of us goes through and lessons we are meant to learn during those times. And at this point in my life I am reflecting on some of where I have been and some about where I am. As my dear children are now teenagers (which I am still in disbelief) it brings me to reflect on the past, and a part of me wonders if I really enjoyed those earlier times when they were younger; if I savored them enough.

When you’re the mother of young children you are the center of their universe; the apple of their eye. There is no greater love to me than when those boys would run up to greet me because they were so excited for me to arrive. I read a quote recently that said something to the effect of “Every parent of a teenager must own a dog so that when they come home someone will be glad to see them.” I just thought that was great. And that is how my life is different now.

Although I know my boys love me it’s not as cool to be around mom; they don’t talk as much; and I definitely am not the center of their universe. They are growing up and things are changing. This really does cause me to reflect on how quick time goes by. And during the younger years my husband and I were so busy; as I know most of you are. We certainly spend much time with our kids. However, there are times that I want to go back and go through those days more slowly, now that I know what I know.

And this is the message I want to share with you today; whether it be with your children or other loved ones in your life today; to savor the moment, to go more slowly and enjoy the moment. To try and focus on the person you are with when you are together. To not allow the many demands of life to take this from you, as time will continue on and I don’t want you to miss the joy and experience of that time with your special loved one.

There is so much wisdom that does come with age, if we choose to learn the lessons needed. And this would be a piece of wisdom I would want to pass along; wisdom that is well known and many books written about it; embracing the moment. Being completely and utterly engrossed in the experience of the moment you are presently in.

It is so easy to be distracted by the multiply demands that today’s life brings. And while we do have to pay attention to the necessities of life don’t do it at the sacrifice of your most important relationships. These people are more important in the long run than any worldly rewards or possessions. Cherish the moment!

The Gift of Family During The Holiday?

family4blog
This time of year is associated with families reconnecting with ones that maybe they don’t see too many times during the year. Whether it’s parent’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins this time of year especially is when most are going to reconnect with the many facets of their family. And for many, and I am going to assume most, this is a wonderful, joyous time. And hopefully during your celebrations you enjoy each other and enjoy hearing new and old stories. And that overall you have a very pleasant experience fellowshipping together. That is my wish and hope for you.

And many are blessed with families that are safe, enjoyable, loving and encouraging. However, I do know that there are many out there that do not have these types of families. Although their families are alive and intact, sadly they do not experience them in positive, safe and encouraging ways. The holidays do not bring up joyful, exiting feelings for these people; rather conflict and discontent. Some choose not to spend the holidays with their families because the negative out weights the positive. And so I say to those of you in these situations, I hope you have safe and encouraging friends to support you during this time of year which is so focused on family.

Then there are those of us (and I include myself in this group) that have no family left. Our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters have passed on before us and we don’t have that family history; our anchor, to include in our present day celebrations. Unless the ones we are with today were a part of that family it is our own loss to bear and the family of today seems oblivious to the empty space.

While many of us may have a family of our own; spouse, children, spouse’s family that we may be blessed with enjoying, it is still different. Good hopefully, but different. In my opinion, unless you have experienced this kind of loss it is very difficult to understand. It is especially hard when you lose your parents and siblings early and they miss out on the new life you have built for yourself.

So during this time of glad tidings, I pray that you will always remember that there are many that don’t have the blessing of family that you may have. And that you will keep those in your prayers that either don’t have a supportive family or whose family has left this earth. And possible even extend a holiday invitation to them to join your family for the holidays. A welcoming spirit is a most wonderful holiday gift!

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