By Lavern Nissley
You've likely heard of the Bermuda Triangle, a region in the western Atlantic Ocean where a number of ships and aircraft have disappeared mysteriously. Not surprisingly, it's also called the Devil's Triangle.
Less familiar to most people is the Dreaded Drama Triangle, a social model of human interaction, especially when conflict is involved. It's as ominous and scary as the Bermuda Triangle. Want to know why?
A picture is worth a 1000 words, so the diagram below pretty much spells out the essence of the Dreaded Drama Triangle, developed by Dr. Stephen Karpman in the 1960's. It includes three key roles, all focusing on problems.
The Victim feels powerless and at the mercy of life events. He or she may not take personal responsibility, finding it easier to blame others. The Persecutor is a person or life event that functions as an adversary or "thorn in the flesh", leaving Victims in their wake. The Rescuer is always looking for Victims to save, even when others are responsible or could do it themselves. Rescuing makes them feel needed.
Does this look familiar? Have you found yourself in any of these three roles, either in couple, family or organizational settings?
Fortunately there is a way off of the Dreaded Drama Triangle! David Emerald, in The Power of Ted* (The Empowerment Dynamic), identifies three additional roles that are more focused upon positive opportunities.
The Creator is opposite the Victim, and is characterized by owning responsibilities and exercising choices for positive outcomes. The Challenger is opposite the Persecutor, and is a powerful motivator toward positive changes. The Coach is opposite the Rescuer, and becomes a skilled asker of clarifying questions.
So here is a possible takeaway. Find the role you recognize in yourself on the Dreaded Drama Triangle. Reflect upon how this role negatively affects you and others. Now find the opposite role on TED Triangle. What would it look like to focus more of your time and energies here? It's worth a try! I mean, wouldn't you rather experience empowerment than drama?
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.