You know what drama feels like. It’s a muddled mess of difficult energy and usually means you are in an entangled relationship with someone else, a situation, or the way you are relating to yourself.
When you slip into this darker drama energy, it’s rare to find any benefit to living in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) roles of Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer. If you are like most people, just getting out of—or “off of”—the drama triangle is all you want.
The DDT roles emerged early in your life as a way to deal with stress, anxiety, and fear. It is a normal part of our human development. As a little person in the land of giant adults, many situations were scary. Human beings are smart and adaptive by nature—even as children. Early on, you figured out that fight, flight, or freeze—and we’ve added a fourth, to appease—were strategies you could adopt to feel safe. It so happens, these align perfectly with the Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer roles.
The DDT behaviors can actually serve an important purpose. They are like a highway sign that says: “Slow down. Danger ahead.” Rather than pushing down your reactive behavior and hoping it just goes away, there is both power and usefulness in realizing the unmet need that is generating that behavior. In making friends with your drama roles, you can wake-up to unconscious patterns that have evolved over time.
For example, when you feel powerless in a situation and notice that a Victim mentality is bubbling up inside, rather than resisting it or telling yourself you shouldn’t feel this way, allow yourself to notice the situation. What triggered the feeling? What was the situation, person, or condition? Is this a reoccurring pattern or a one-time event? What might this sense of victimization be telling you?
When you feel the Persecutor energy emerge, you may need to legitimately defend or protect yourself or another. Like a mama bear protecting her cubs, fending off a threat may be the most appropriate response to a situation. Identifying what you are willing to fight for can tell you a lot about your deepest values.
Ask yourself, “Is my desire to Rescue hinged upon my hope that others will say nice things about me?” If so, your Rescuing behavior is about you, rather than the good deed you plan to do. This distinction is essential to understand, and it can make the difference between helping others so they will think well of you, or because you genuinely want to be of service.
You may have heard the adage that “what you resist, persists.” When your DDT roles appear, it is an opportunity to observe old patterns that have persisted, and may have once served you, but are now outdated and ineffective.
By making friends with your DDT roles, you will gain new clues about your once brilliant behavior that evolved in response to earlier life challenges. Rather than avoiding your DDT roles and wishing they would simply go away, embrace your drama as evidence of something new that wants to emerge.
In an odd twist, when drama strikes the arrival of your drama roles may be one of the finest gifts you give yourself, if you are open and aware. Learning from them can actually help you make more conscious and empowered choices in work and in life, living more fully into TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic).