How do you know when you’ve been sucked into a drama triangle?
It’s easy. Are you having drama with someone right now? Then you are in a drama triangle.
Is there a struggle with the wife, your boss or a partner? Is there an ongoing, recurring conflict? Is it the same soap opera again and again, sometimes with different people?
Growing up as kids, we learned how to play our role in the drama triangle well. There are three positions : Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer. Which one are you?
I like to say that almost all upset occurs in the past. If you are upset with someone right now then, unless they are poking you with a sharp stick, it is likely that your upset is a triggered emotional memory from the past.
If you are getting triggered by someone into upset, sadness, anger or numbness, then that is a trigger. To be “triggered” is to be reminded of a past emotional memory stored and suppressed deep in your body. Being triggered is not a “now” experience. It is a reminder of “then”.
The “persecutor” is the one upsetting the victim. They are being mean, bossy, aggressive or manipulative. They look like the bully. Often times the persecutor is unconsciously trying to heal an old wound of previously being a victim.
The “victim” is the one who playing “poor me” and is being trampled upon by the persecutor. “Why do they always do this to me?” But, the victim is typically an energy vampire. They are sucking away your life force. The victim is demanding attention.
The “rescuer” comes in on the white horse to save the “victim” from the actions of the “persecutor”. The rescuer gets to be the hero. They get to feel superior to both the victim and the persecutor. In life, ultimately, the rescuer will end up getting kicked in the shin by the victim.
Often there are three people playing each of the three roles. But sometimes someone might play two roles. Sometimes the roles switch under different circumstances.
In a classic male chauvinist game, a guy who is being a dick will be a bit of a bully to his woman. She has to be willing to play the part of the “victim”. (Otherwise, why is she there?) He gets to be a “persecutor”. He might walk all over her one night.
The next day, after trashing her, he might bring her some flowers and be apologetic. “I’m sorry.” In other words, the night before he was the “persecutor” and today he is being the “rescuer”. Or is someone else rescuing the victim?
In order to step out of the repeating drama of this triangle, first you have to be aware of it. You need to see the role that you are playing in it.
Most of us grew up playing a particular role in the family. Maybe you were Dad’s rescuer. Maybe you were the victim to Mom’s persecutor.
When you get triggered, you will likely go back to the age of that unhealed wound back “then”. Likely, you will regress to playing the role in the drama triangle that you were accustomed to playing in your family life back then at that age.
The way out of the repeating pattern is to stop playing your role in it. To do that you have to become aware of the role that you are playing.
Check out this short video about the drama triangle. Learn to build your own awareness.