Communication and the Drama Triangle
From a young age we all learn to take on roles to help us survive and live in the complex world around us. However as we grow older, gain experience in the world and broaden our learning, continuing to use these roles can lead to challenge, unhealthy relationships and create unnecessary stress in our lives.
An example of such roles is put forward by Karpman (1968) and are shown in the Drama Triangle. This triangle highlights the negative emotions and thoughts we can experience at different times and in different situations. This deceptively simple representation actually shows a complex dynamic that many of us fall into, despite our best efforts.
And be aware, these roles can switch depending on situation and relationship. For example, did you ever feel like you had helped somebody just for them to ignore your help? Did you feel resentful (and become a Victim) or angry (and become a Persecutor)?
And did you ever feel like you were being “pushed” into a role? For example, if somebody is complaining and whinging, did you switch to Rescuer (to support their Victim) or did you get annoyed (and become a Persecutor)? It is sometimes difficult not to take on these roles and it can take a conscious effort not to fall into the drama of this triangle….
So, can things be done differently….
....how about ”I’m okay and you’re okay” ?
Imagine what would happen if you changed your role from Rescuer to Coach? Well, you no longer need a Victim and you no longer allow yourself to be persecuted. And changing from Victim to Creator? You no longer need a Rescuer and you are no longer being persecuted. And so on…
For example, if somebody asks for help then you can support them and work with them to find options (as a Coach might do), but in the end they need to make their own decisions. It is not your responsibility or your choice to make. How about if somebody is whinging and complaining, maybe you could reinforce your own boundaries rather than feel burdened by the troubles of other people?
Changing is not easy, but the result might just be healthier relationships and a healthier you.