What is interesting about our high school years is how much of the drama permeates so many areas of our life as we grow older. From the home to the workplace, the drama of our earlier years follow us throughout life. And how we dealt with drama way back then, is definitely an indicator of how we'll handle it now.
Dr Steven Karpman created a model to help explain the drama that we encounter in our life. It is often referred to as the Karpman Triangle but most know the model as the Drama Triangle. Understanding the workings of this model helps us deal with dysfunctional dynamics.
It is important to note that when the drama triangle is complete, all three sides present and engaged, the drama will always be active. It is only when you break the triangle you break free of the grips of the dysfunctional situation.
First, we must cast the roles in our dramatic plays. When drama occurs, quickly identify the three main actors.
- The Victim or Martyr
- The Persecutor or Offender
- The Rescuer or Enabler
For any dramatic play to continue all three actors must stay fully engaged in the drama or it will disintegrate. To see what I mean, think back over the most dramatic time in your recent history. Let's say, for example, there was a blow-up at work and someone got blamed for a mistake that was really someone else's fault.
Who was the victim? The person who got blamed.
Who was the persecutor? The person who let the victim take the fall.
Who was the rescuer? Anyone who is defending the truth.
To break free of the triangle you must first understand what role you may be playing in the drama. This takes honest self-exploration and a willingness to be wrong if that's the truth.
Once you've honestly identified the part you're playing in the drama, Accountability is the key word. If I am going to use this word it must be defined correctly. Personal friends and Authors Tom Smith and Rogers Connors nailed the definition in their ground breaking book on accountability almost 25 years ago. In The Oz Principle, Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability, they define accountability as follows:
"A personal choice to rise above your circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for deliver desired results."
Notice the key words? At the end of the day breaking free begins with a personal choice. Your choice is simple, you can be a victim or a victor...you always have a choice.
Here are some simple thoughts to consider:
- When the Victim take accountability to look for options of a way out.
- When the Persecutor take accountability to negotiate a way to a win-win conclusion.
- When the Rescuer take accountability for motivation.
Life will always present some kind of drama. You are either in it or watching it unfold. Get to close and it is easy to get sucked in. Arming yourself with self-awareness of how the drama triangle finds it's energy to continue gives you the power to not only defuse but to avoid the drama all together.
Oh what I would have given to understand this simple model in High School! Since there is no going back then look ahead and keep moving...
photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net, by scottchan