How to use the drama of life to enrich your life
Are you constantly upset with someone or yourself over a relationship? Is there a person that pushes your buttons or you can’t understand why he or she doesn’t listen to you? Is life screwing you?
While most of us have had these experiences at one time or another, if you find these and/or other negative experiences to be constant companions, maybe you are in the middle of the Drama Triangle. First described by Stephen Karpman, the Drama Triangle is a psychosocial model of how relations go south. The drama is in the acting out of unconscious and covert behavior.
The enthusing melodrama occurs as the players or aspects of the triangle start bouncing off each other. You need all three to have the play work. Sometimes, players will switch roles to keep the play going. The three roles:
- victim – the person who is at the effect of circumstances or others
- persecutor – the person affecting or mistreating the victim
- rescuer – the person who intervenes to save the victim
Drama is good when it is entertainment – it is not good when you are in the middle of it.
We will look at each type and explore some simple ways to shift your perspective and behavior to get yourself or another out of this triangle over three posts.
To shift this position, let’s better understand what’s behind it. Using the classic four archetypes; warrior, lover, magician and king/queen we can see what drives the limiting behaviors of all three players in the Drama Triangle.
A victim feels helpless and hopeless. He denies responsibility for his negative situation and denies having any power to change it. He often collapses emotionally and physically and feels as if he is in a no-win position.
His warrior archetype has no power. He can’t say no. He can’t take a stance. He feels and is being violated if only emotionally. Underneath the weak demeanor is the repressed anger from his violations. Because it is unexpressed, the anger shows up passive-aggressively through indirect, covert comments and actions. To speak directly is to risk more victimization, so the emotion comes out sideways possibly as a wisecrack remark.
Indirect expression never satiates the anger, so over time it builds as tension, frustration and rage. Then he has shame about how he is a victim, which only compounds emotional repression.
To shift this he must begin asserting his feelings and needs to prevent further violation. He may need to attempt to retrieve what was lost. The value lies more in the expression or the action than the results. Through taking risks and maybe even not succeeding, he will begin to shift from being a victim to a creator of his world.
The victim also represses his lover through not feeling or expressing the grief for his loss of his power, needs and true love of others. Over time, these repressed feelings may lead to depression.
When he feels and expresses his sadness, he can begin to drain his huge lake of old grief. He learns that loss doesn’t need to be devastating. He can feel it, and then let go of it. This allows him not to be limited by a fear of being victimized. If loss happens, he can either fight or fly, or if need be, just accept the lost and move on.