When we hold multi-day workshops, at the end of the first day we ask participants to “stay tuned” to their experiences that night and simply notice how the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) and its roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer may show up.
The next morning, we invite participants to share what they noticed. The check-in stories we hear are often quite funny, sometimes touching, and useful learning for everyone.
In a recent workshop, one participant checked in the second day with an amusing experience that served as a teaching point that has stuck with us. She shared that the night before she and her spouse were watching TV after putting their young children to bed. She had just sat down on the couch to relax when her husband made a comment. He mumbled something about the TV program they were watching that, in the past, would have triggered her to react and engage in the DDT.
Instead of reacting, she paused, took a breath, and said one word: “Pass.” Stunned and somewhat stumped, her husband responded, “What do you mean, ‘pass’?”
“It would be easy for me to be triggered by your comment, so I am going to pass on reacting to it,” she said.
She then shared with him what she had learned in the workshop about the DDT and her reactive triggers (which we have written about previously in “TED* Works!®”).
The question of “pass or play?” comes from the long-running TV game show, “Family Feud.” (A very thought-provoking name, considering the possibility of family drama.)
As the second day of training unfolded, her story and the new mantra, “pass or play” became a phrase that her fellow participants used to remind them that they have a choice about how they respond to life’s challenges. Adding to the drama when it arises is a choice, so one can decide to “play,” with the probable consequence of escalating the situation and perpetuating the DDT.
Each person has triggers that, if you are not conscious of them, can automatically pull you into the DDT and family or work drama can erupt. In this person’s case, she chose to “pass” and not allow her old triggers to draw her into reacting. Instead of adding to the drama that night, she used the “pass” mantra to help her relax and not “play.”
Unfortunately, we often do not have the awareness to pause and ask ourselves the question, as this participant did. Instead, the human tendency is to “play” without thinking about it—just react when drama situations arise.
It can be very easy to habitually play into the DDT with those closest to you, especially when there are previous patterns of reactivity. And now, work and life are even harder for almost everyone. You may be experiencing changes in your work, your children’s education may have been disrupted, health risks abound, and there’s an avalanche of troubling political news every day. The temptation to unconsciously add to the drama is very real.
As both spouses and business partners, we spend a lot of time together and find ourselves “playing” into reacting to one another when triggered by something that is said, done, or not done. We have found that asking ourselves the light-hearted question, “Do I want to ‘pass or play?’” is a way to remind us that we have a choice.
When a situation arises in which you feel yourself triggered, as a Creator simply ask yourself: “Do I want to add to the drama, and ‘play,’ or to relax and ‘pass’?”