The Drama Triangle
Like the parent, adult, child model that we looked at on Friday, this is from the Transactional Analysis world.
I use it on myself all the time, to work out where I am operating and whether there is a more useful place to be in the Winner’s Triangle. The triangle has three roles, related to the damsel in distress, the hero and the villain of fairy tales:
Victim – “I’m helpless/hopeless”
– Discounts self and resources
– Believes he can’t think and feel at the same time
– Seeks a Persecutor to put her down and confirm her discount, or a Rescuer to confirm her belief of not coping
– Comes from the negative Adapted Child ego state (feels helpless and un-resourceful)
– Discounts the autonomy of the Victim and their power to help themselves
– Believes her own needs are not important and discounts these as well
– Takes responsibility for doing things that others should/could do themselves
– Comes from the negative Nurturing Parent ego state
– Discounts others’ feelings, value and dignity
– Believes that we can make others do things
– Comes from the negative Controlling Parent ego state (dominates)
As I was writing that, I could think of many examples of myself in Victim and Rescuer. I know I am sometimes a Persecutor behind people’s backs (shame on me), but I don’t think I often go there face-to-face…unless I get so fed up with being in Victim that I turn on the other person and become the Persecutor! And that’s the game we all play, moving around the triangle.
What’s happening is that we are not stating our needs outright, but rather trying to get our unspoken (and often unconscious) needs met covertly.
I recognise this so much in myself – for example in my relationship with my husband. I often don’t say what I need, and then get all huffy (Victim) when he doesn’t read my mind! How can he? I have work to do there!
The Winner’s Triangle helps us to move into Adult ego state.
We move from:
* Victim to Voicing our Feelings (or Vulnerable) – asking honestly for what we need instead of hoping someone else will tell us
* Rescuer to Resourceful (or Caring) – supporting others instead of doing it for them
* Persecutor to Powerful (or Assertive) – making it clear what needs to happen, without blame, aggression or punishment; defining boundaries and believing that everyone’s needs are important
This all happens at work. In every relationship. In every conversation.
Think about it as you have conversations today, and work out where you are and where might be a better, more adult position. For example, what is the one conversation you need to have with your boss that you have been avoiding – move from Victim (blaming your boss for not reading your mind that you need this conversation) to Voicing that, being Vulnerable. Or what about a conversation with someone who asks you for help – do you really need to do it for them, or could you ask questions that help them to work it out for themselves?