By: Francine Zickl, MA, CADC
Do you ever feel like you’re a Victim in life? Do you find yourself blaming others for your troubles? Have you been feeling helpless and even hopeless about your life?
Do you find that you’re always the one trying to help someone else out, and your responsibilities take a back seat? Are you always taking family and /or friends to their appointments but miss your own? Are you a Rescuer?
Are you overly critical and rigid in your thinking and driven by anger? Do you bully others into agreeing to your demands? Are you a Persecutor?
If you answered yes to some or all of these, you have or are a part of the drama triangle. People usually rotate through all of them, but we gravitate to one in particular.
The Drama Triangle is an ineffective response to conflict. People will continue moving around the Drama Triangle until they get the help needed to move into a healthier one—from a place of pain to one of healthy communication.
The Victim often feels oppressed and hopeless. They look for a rescuer because they don’t have to take responsibility. After all, they are constantly being rescued.
The Rescuer feels the need to provide support and feels guilty if they aren’t helping people. They get their good feelings from hearing other people’s positive reactions to their behaviors. It makes them feel good. In the home, it’s about caring for others and getting praise for doing things instead of who they are.
The Prosecutor is rigid and bossy. They are quick to anger and quickly fly into a rage. They think it is normal anger; however, anger is fear. Instead of dealing with their fear, they use anger as an outlet. The prosecutor uses black-and-white thinking, all or nothing—-no gray areas.
What do you need to do? The simple answer is learning emotional regulation–noticing your emotions and learning how to deal with them appropriately.
The first step in this process is the awareness that you want to change your life and stop the cycle.
Victims must seek positive change and learn to take responsibility for their actions. You need to be aware that you don’t want to be helpless anymore. Rather than jumping to blame, ask yourself: How can I get what I want healthily—by not blaming others?
Rescuers need to start saying no. Remember to take care of yourself first. Self-care is a great way to do this. You must fulfill your needs first before you can give back to others.
Prosecutors should seek anger management skills to help them cope with their fears. It is important to evaluate how you are feeling and become self-aware.
We learn these roles through our family. Think back to your childhood. Did your parents yell a lot? Or did you have younger siblings and were expected to care for them? Or were you the baby of the family and got away with everything?
Our first relationships are so vital because we mimic what we see. Seeing a parent angry and yelling teaches a child to deal with emotions similarly. These are ingrained messages that you take with you. Once you leave, you need to learn how to change these dynamics so that you don’t continue to blame, rescue, or bully. You need to break the cycle.
Remember, resentment is all about communication. Holding resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. By learning proper communication, you can rid yourself of resentment and passive-aggressive and aggressive behaviors.
Never talk to someone in a rage. They are only seeing red, so come back to it afterward. Never talk about it at home—-it’s too familiar. Take a walk or go to a diner.
Don’t get stuck in the trap of comfort in discomfort. You are used to this feeling, so you will attract people that will continue to make you feel this way—whether you like it or not.
This may all sound simple; however, change is scary. Being a part of the triangle is something we know—we know what will happen. People don’t like change, so it is scary to seek it.
However, you can start making positive changes in your life and go from having poor boundaries to clear boundaries.
If you want a good read about this topic, try Reinventing Your Life: The Breakthrough Program to End Negative Behavior and Feel Great Again by Jeffrey Young.