Working with the skills to move out of reactivity, out of the Drama Triangle, is supporting a new level of human consciousness.
- Judy Dragon -
In this post, I wrote about internal roles and codependency.
Once the roles and behavior are identified, it’s necessary to look at the dynamics and motivations that are keeping us entrenched in the patterns.
The roles in the Drama triangle (victim, enabler/rescuer, persecutor) are not static. That means different dynamics can and do occur where positions continually shift.
I’m going to create a fictitious story about two friends, Allie and Barb, who have been relating to each other through the Drama Triangle for several years.
Ally ‘plays the victim’ more often with how things are keeping her down, while Barb is the rescuer/enabler with her continual suggestions on what can be done for Ally’s problems or situations. These are hierarchical relational positions.
After starting her process of looking at her co-dependency, Barb’s unsolicited advice and how she does things is upsetting Ally. She reacts though, raising her voice in saying to Barb, “You should listen to your own advice! You’re always telling me what I should do! I’m sick of it!”
Ally is now taking the role of the persecutor in how she communicates abrasively and in telling Barb what to do (…you should…). This could easily create a communication disconnect in how Barb is ‘told off’.
This could also escalate so that Barb ends up saying to Ally, “You hurt my feelings. I can never do anything right. Who else listens to you like I do?”
Barb’s role has now shifted to the victim position with the enabler role vacated for a bit and the persecutor role rearing up a close second.
Three dynamics occurred. Keep in mind that Barb’s response of, “You hurt my feelings” is a phrase used from childhood to place blame and regain a power imbalance. It’s a victim statement.
In truth, no one can ‘hurt our feelings’ as adults. We are the ones responsible for what comes up from a trigger or another’s reactivity in how we handle it.
We can ‘feel hurt’ though, (I feel hurt) as all our feelings are acceptable to acknowledge and experience. This is very different than ‘someone hurting our feelings’ . Take a moment to reread that if you’re not understanding. There are several reasons why.
‘You hurt my feelings’ is not saying what is going with our emotions or what the experience is. The other is being included as somehow creating or connected to our emotional state. Our emotions/feelings are now relegated outside our self by including another person in our emotional imbalance. This is a victim position.
“I can never do anything right” is a victim statement to solicit care, empathy, attention, or sympathy by negating or putting one self down. There is an expectation that Allie needs to fix Barb’s feelings for what was said.
“Who else listens to you like I do?”can be a put-down towards Allie depending how Barb said it to her (i.e. if she acted smug), or a set up for placing guilt on her as if Allie doesn’t have anyone else to be there for her. Barb could be moving between the persecutor and enabler role attempting to regain her balance or power. That is how fast it can shift in the Triangle with one statement and the energetic communication that unfolds.
Barb’s initial enabler role (the giver, mediator, do-gooder) has many dynamics. If the underlying, subconscious motivation is to be loved or recognized by others for all she does and the roles or identities she plays for others (who she thinks she is), there could be an inability to recognize and internalize self-acceptance, self respect and self love making it difficult to question Allie’s comments.
Disconnecting dynamics happen in families and in relationships when certain respectful boundary and communication skills have not been developed, used, or when the person is in trigger. As exemplified, people can shift roles in seconds, which can be so crazy-making and difficult for children or others who they are relating to or witnessing. Emotional abuse is how all this is often experienced and registered by children or those who have survived narcissistic relationships.
And a trigger is ALWAYS from the past. We are no longer in the present moment responding unless we take a pause and reorient back to the present experience. Feeling into the body and/or connecting with Creator are often helpful.
Unless someone decides to set a boundary, emotionally regulate and/or leave the triangle, the roles will continue to shift in very disconnecting ways. This is what we are witnessing from the level of intense dramatic global play-outs.
These Players don’t seem to want to acknowledge the broader, deeper and harmful dysfunction done by their communications and decisions as a whole. It’s a ‘me’ against ‘them’, hierarchical, deep intrinsic shame that is projected–fear of not surviving, ‘lack of’ position (safety, finances, significance, etc.), which is again the ‘victim’ shifting through all the roles of the triangle but playing out as persecutor more often.
The motivations for each person engaging in disconnective behavior and the reason the situation continues within the Drama Triangle, is that each person manages to get their unspoken (and frequently unconscious) psychological needs met through assumptions, manipulative means, and projections.
We can learn to communicate in ways to speak to the others’ actions or communications without blaming them or wanting them to fix things.
We can ask or share reflective statements if we can get past being reactive/in trigger. This is a learned skill to extricate one self from the Drama Triangle.
If the skills were available, Barb could take ownership of her feelings by using an ‘I’ statement such as, “I feel hurt.” There is no ‘You’ in the sentence to blame or connect Allie to her feelings, but a sharing of them and her experience. Sometimes, even this statement can have an energetic and tonal ‘tug’ to fix the ‘hurt’ person, so more communication can lend to clarity.
And if an ‘I” statement such as, “When you raised your voice, I feel hurt” is used, this is also victim position. As mentioned prior, there is an implication that the other created the feeling of hurt by raising their voice. Keep it clear and simple by owning the feeling and experience. “I feel hurt’ can do this with an awareness that you don’t need to be fixed but are just sharing what your emotion is, what is going on for you.
Allie could continue with, “I get that I raised my voice. I felt hurt too. Please say more in what is going on for you first.”
Barb could expand in her statement with a new skill set by saying (and in a tone that isn’t angry), “I wasn’t expecting the tone of your voice. What happened? I’m feeling confused. We’ve related for years in me listening to you and then me sharing advice.”
It’s a co-dependent pattern to use unsolicited advice even by default, but hey, at least Barb is naming it without blaming Allie, and she stated her feeling of confusion. This has shifted her out of the triangle roles into possible neutrality.
Allie could respond if she had the skills, “I’m realizing now that I just wanted to be listened to and didn’t need suggestions. I never told you this before. I apologize for not speaking up about this. I really am capable of figuring things out, but in me not saying anything to you, I wonder if you thought I wasn’t capable. This is how I was in my family too–not saying anything and everyone thought I was helpless and incapable.
I realize that I observe things and talk out loud to figure things out. People think I’m complaining. Perhaps I could just ask you for suggestions when I feel I need them.
Would you be willing to just listen unless I ask for something else? And I’ll listen to you when it has to do with what you’re going through as well. It’s been one-sided.”
This is a very mature dialogue with the purpose to come to resolve and bring more heart and connection to an imbalanced relationship. Both parties were present for change. There was emotional intimacy (in Allie sharing about her family), accountability, openness, curiosity and a willingness to listen to each other. (Look at these virtues!)
There was also an invitation of how to relate differently with Allie making the suggestion. This is authentic relating.
Looking at our motivations is what the course, ‘You and Creator’ will delve into through the sub-levels of the 4 level belief work. And I do understand this isn’t easy in having heavier emotions arise and having the safety and capacity to allow them.
If we have the somatic and emotional capacity built up in learning emotionally regulating skills, we can weather the storms that life brings and learn about ourselves, our strengths, our empathy, our care, our creativity and many more virtues.
With care and blessings!
Here is the list of questions you can answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for your own interest that I mentioned last month. It can show a combination of codependency traits or tendencies. You can use the questions to create beliefs and give yourself Creator’s teachings if you have taken the Basic and Advanced ThetaHealing® Technique workshops.
Are you always worried about others’ opinions of you?
Belief: I always worry about others’ opinions of me.
Creator’s teaching: I know what it feels like, how to, when to, that it’s possible, that it’s safe, that I’m worthy/deserving/good enough, that I can and do live without worrying about others’ opinions of me.
- Do you feel a need to fulfill others’ emotional/irrational expectations of you or you are letting down others if you don’t?
- Do you routinely take the 5th amendment (keep quiet) to avoid arguments?
- Do you often hold back from saying what you feel is true to avoid rocking the boat or being judged?
- Are the opinions, ideas, and thoughts of others more important than your own?
- Are you uncomfortable expressing your true feelings to others (without blaming)?
- Is keeping the status quo more important than being yourself in situations?
- Do you have difficulty adjusting to changes at work, relationships, or home?
- Do you doubt your ability to strive to be the best version of yourself?
- Do you give up or forfeit what you want to support others’ needs?
- Do you have difficulty taking compliments or gifts and then feel you need to reciprocate?
- In the majority of conversations with others, do you feel that what you have to say has little significance or worth?
- Have you ever lived with someone who hits or belittles you?
- Have you ever lived with someone with an alcohol/ drug problem or has been abusive?
- Do you feel shame when you make a mistake?
- Do you feel shame when someone close to you makes a mistake (take on their actions as a reflection of being associated with them)?
- Is it easier to be nice or ‘good’ then to be real and authentic?
- Do you know the difference between nice/good and real/authentic?
- Is it easier to minimize or negate an issue than speak to it truthfully?
- Do you frequently wish someone could help you get things done without asking for assistance?
- Does asking for help make you feel embarrassed, ashamed or defeated?
- Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?
- Do you feel rejected or abandoned when significant others spend time with friends?
- Do you have friendships that are mutually supportive?
- Do you have so many things going at once that you can’t do justice to any of them?
- Do you continually push yourself to perfection or exhaustion?
- Do you keep constantly busy and feel guilty if you relax?
- Do you give your time away or overextend yourself constantly?
- Do others’ values and opinions seem more important than your own?
- Do you give up your values in order to stay in a relationship?
- Do others’ values or opinions become your own without clarifying what works for you?
- Do you feel a need to respond to every comment that sounds attacking, demeaning, or adversarial?
- Do you think that without your constant effort, people in your life will go downhill?
- Do you have difficulty talking to people who you see as ‘authorities’ or ‘experts’, such as a teacher, an elder, the police, your employer, or a politician (etc)?
- Do you feel that if you create what you want, you’ll deny others their right to be or create what they want?
- Have you given up what you really want in your life to feel financially stable?
- Do you give up your power to another in order to have your finances or career move forward?
- Do you feel wrong or a failure if you change your mind on a situation?
- Do you move from one romantic relationship to another (rebounding) without evaluating what happened prior?
- Are you afraid of working towards a commitment in a romantic relationship?
- Do you stay in relationships out of one-sided loyalty rather than mutual caring?