One of the most common, and potentially dangerous, activations we can experience is to perceive ourselves and others through the lens of the “Drama Triangle.” The perspective of the “Drama Triangle” is that people are considered heroes (stronger or smarter than others), victims (weaker or more helpless), and villains (bullies). Unfortunately, the Drama Triangle disempowers all three sets of people.
The Impact of the Drama Triangle
Most of us have been conditioned to participate in the Drama Triangle and the dynamics it creates without knowing it. For instance, how often do you hear these phrases: victim of a crime, victim of cancer, and support groups for victims? Even our health is seen in terms of invaders, rescuers, and victims within and around our bodies. That form of messaging conditions us to view life as organized around attack, defense, and rescue, when there is actually much more stability and security available to us when we look beyond those roles.
Have you ever noticed that when someone sees themselves as playing one of the roles in the Drama Triangle, they automatically see someone else playing the other roles? When we are seen through the lens of the Drama Triangle, we are pigeonholed instead of being seen in our wholeness. This is not healthy for the individuals involved or for the community because it ignores the truth that everyone has the potential to be strong, weak, or self-centered at times, and everyone has the potential to contribute to their own well-being and the well-being of others.
Benefits of Stepping Out of the Drama Triangle
When we step out of the victim-villain-hero story, we receive unexpected gifts that help us experience life with less stress and more joy. By coming into conscious awareness of our participation in the Drama Triangle, and stepping out of it, we get to:
- Shed struggle
- Experience compassion instead of fear or anger
- Realize our innate value, and that our value does not need defending
- Empower ourselves and others
- Realize we live in a benign universe that supports well-being for all
How to Step Outside the Drama Triangle
Are you “victimizing”, “villainizing”, or seeing someone in your life as a “hero” today? If so, I encourage you to soften and release that perspective. You can replace it with a perspective that everyone is doing the best they can with what they are working with, including you. Here are the steps to take:
1. Recognize what role you are playing: Victim, Villain or Rescuer
- See and feel that role with both its gifts and its shortcomings
2. Accept responsibility for your feelings and actions
- Where could you stop giving energy to the Drama Triangle by changing your thoughts, feelings, words, or actions?
3. Release any responsibility you’re holding for others’ feelings or actions
- You are not responsible for others’ feelings or actions. While you care about others, remember that each adult is responsible for his or her own feelings and actions.
4. Remember: We are all different in the ways we respond to each moment, yet we all want to be happy and understood; we all want to love and be loved.
- There are very few masters of life. We are all “a work in progress.”
“The first step to wisdom is silence. The second step is to listen through your heart.”