As you read this blog, please pause for a moment and observe yourself. Where are you sitting or standing? Notice what you are doing (in addition to reading this). How are you feeling (mad, glad, sad, excited, etc.)? How are you reacting to this unusual start to the essay? Do you want to continue reading or close it down and move on?
If you paused and reflected upon these questions, you just experienced “going to the balcony.” (Thanks to Harvard University professors Richard Heifetz and Marty Linsky for coining the metaphor.)
When you can observe yourself in the moment, it allows you to be less attached to your drama-filled behaviors or emotions. You become less self-focused and more self-reflective. As a Creator—the central role in the TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)® framework—developing this practice is an essential skill.
Look at the pictures accompanying this essay. In one, two men are sitting in the front row of a theatre. Their view is restricted to only what they can see right in front of them. This is similar to what it feels like when enmeshed in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT). You can only see a limited perspective and what is playing out in front of you.
In the other picture, a person is on a balcony looking over the activity taking place below. A balcony view provides a place of perspective where you can see things you had not seen before. From this vantage point, you can step back from your reactivity and get curious about the larger plot that is unfolding.
You may even feel relieved and more inspired by your ability to see and understand the larger situation and the dynamics that are playing out. With greater understanding, it is easier to remain calm and gain new insight into whatever is going on—even if you are involved in the “play” taking place on the stage of life.
From this higher vantage point, you are more likely to pause and connect with others as Co-Creators. This allows you to focus on what you want and on what you can learn from the drama situation. It also allows you to choose a more empowering response and relate from any of the TED* roles of Creator, Challenger, and Coach.
There are many forms “going to the balcony” may take. Pausing and sitting quietly, going for a walk or cup of coffee, or listening to a piece of calming music are all ways to break the trance of a narrow perspective. Or you can simply go to the balcony in your mind and feel the larger outlook arising.
A view from the balcony allows you to observe with a little less reactive emotion (drama!) and see the situation with a bit of fresh air.
The next time you find yourself hooked by drama, call a “time out” and go to the balcony. Take a moment to reflect upon your emotions and recognize the hot-button issue that got you triggered in the first place. The perspective you gain will help you feel lighter and more likely to choose a resourceful and resilient response to the situation.
We encourage you to add the practice of going to the balcony as one way to help interrupt DDT situations, remain calm, reconnect with what you want to create, and co-create with others.