The Drama We Attract in Our Life

Do you ever wonder why you have drama in your life?  The answer to this question may relate to two factors:

1. You were born into a family.

2. The nature of life, is experiences. And many of our experiences revolve around interactions and relationships with people, especially family. Within these experiences, we develop core beliefs about ourselves, about relationship and life in general.

For your life experiences, especially in childhood, begin to shape and create your belief system and behavior patterns. We learn to take on a particular role in what’s commonly called the “Drama Triangle.”

The concept and dynamic of the “Drama Triangle” was first conceived by Dr. Stephen Karpman https://www.karpmandramatriangle.com/ in the 1960’s as a social model. Karpman’s triangle has been adapted for use in structural analysis, which defines roles people take on during conflict situations; also how it can become our go-to defense and protection mode in time of stress, change (uncertainty) or conflict. In recent years, Lynne Forrest https://www.lynneforrest.com/ has done much research and work with the drama triangle and she has some excellent information on this topic and its dynamics.

The 3 roles or faces in the triangle are the: Victim, Rescuer and Persecutor.  A person has one default or go-to role, but participants can and do switch roles depending on their perceptions and what gets triggered in them, while experiencing situations and interactions. As we experience life, it’s common that we all have played these roles from time to time.

Some people are so use to drama in their life, they view this as normal and a way of life, because they experienced this from early on in life. For some, if there isn’t drama going on in their life, they unconsciously will create conflict, so as to have drama, i.e. a sense of “normal” in their life.

Some who struggle with depression, will create a repeated pattern or cycle of depression to conflict/drama and back to depression. A person who struggles with chronic depression or victim energy; the conflict and drama part of the cycle moves that depressive energy perhaps into persecutor or fighter energy, which makes the person feel more alive for a time, until they fall back into the depressive part of the pattern.

Below, I offer a brief description, the mindsets and behaviors of the 3 roles in the triangle dynamic. I also offer some insight as to what’s needed to move oneself out of a particular role in the triangle. Included in the middle of this blog is a diagram of the drama triangle and the transformation to empowerment i.e. ways to step out of the particular drama roles.

The Victim: The victim is the central figure in the drama triangle, by their actions and reactions to stress, change or conflict. Their stance is: “Why me”, “Poor me”, and “I hate myself.” Behaviors: They are very needy, feeling and belief of helpless, hopeless, fearful, negativity, worry, complain, low self-esteem, and focus on self. They are very self-absorbed, yet have little to no awareness of this. They often feel rejected and/or abandoned. Yet, they have abandoned themselves, by way of not taking stock in themselves, not believing in themselves and their struggle with doing for themselves.

Victims often emotionally and physically drain others around them by their neediness and negativity. They have little to no physical or emotional energy or motivation. This creates the need for others to do for them, because they feel and believe they can’t do for themselves. Victims, use guilt and the projection of helplessness to manipulate others, especially a” rescuer” into doing for them. The victim needs a rescuer to come to their aid. So they will attract rescuer energy through their interactions and relationships.

The Rescuer: The rescuer’s stance and line is: “Let me help you” – “I can do this for you.”  The rescuer is the helper, and becomes the enabler in doing for others at the expense of themselves. Rescuer behaviors: needy, avoiding of self, focus on others, high energy. Rescuers have a strong need to be needed. If they are not helping others they feel guilty or shame. Rescuer thinking and behaviors usually comes about due to past experiences where they felt helpless or inadequate to assist someone.

To compensate, for this feeling of inadequacy and believing, “I should have done something or more.” They now make it their mindset and mission to “save the world.” and live to assist others in all ways and forms. They live a rapid pace in thinking, speech and behavior. The rescuer actually takes on this role as a way to avoid facing and dealing with their own struggles and problems. To protect their low self-esteem and insecurities their way of building themselves up is by constantly helping and doing for others.

Many people go into helping professions, such health care, teaching, customer service, entertainment,  as a way to avoid looking and dealing with their own struggles and pain.

The rescuer needs the victim to do for them, so they will often attract victim energy through their interactions and relationships. This gives the rescuer the perception of being of service, being needed. Rescuers often project a sense of entitlement to help others and speak of their sacrifice in order to help/save others. Due to their strong need to avoid themselves and conviction to assist others, they can become the “Martyr” as they sacrifice for others.

The Persecutor: (a .k. a. Fighter or Bully) Stance and mindset is: “I need to win.”  “It’s your fault.” “I hate you.” The Persecutor is angry controlling, critical, blaming, rigid, oppressive, and authoritative, feels entitled and needs to feel superior. The Persecutor struggles with taking responsibility for the way they hurt others. In their mind they feel justified, because they believe others deserve to be hurt, because they themselves are hurting. They often have past wounds of betrayal and injustice. Since the Persecutor was hurt in the past, they see a need to protect themselves in aggressive and demeaning ways. They view the world as a hostile and dangerous place. In order to survive, they need to be the aggressor and have power-over others.

The Persecutor needs the victim in order to have the power-over feeling and someone to blame. The Persecutor is also hiding their own insecurities and low self-worth. Their way of building themselves up is by tearing others down, especially emotionally, by put downs, sarcasm, etc.

How the Drama Unfolds

Consider, most of humanity is either in the victim or fighter energy and consciousness. As humans, with an ego, we struggle with taking responsibility for how we’ve learn to be in the world. We play the “Blame game.” Or we take on too much responsibility, owning more than our share.This is playing the “Shame game.” Shame and blame are the drivers of drama triangles dynamic.

Initially, a drama triangle unfolds when one person takes on the role of a victim and another person takes on the role of persecutor. The victim then feels the need to enlist other people into the conflict. This need invites a rescuer to enter the situation. These enrolled players take on roles of their own that are not fixed, and therefore various scenarios can occur. For example, as a situation unfolds into conflict, the victim might turn on the rescuer, the rescuer then switches to persecuting and the drama is in full swing.

From Victim

In reality, each role or face in the triangle: the persecutor, rescuer, and the victim, are all victims, just with different styles and ways of expression. Each role is acting out in selfish and entitled ways to get their own needs meant and reinforce their belief system. Each role with their mindset and behaviors in the long run, not only hurts or drains others; more importantly, they hurt themselves. Additionally, the role players, each have their own struggles and difficulty, with effectively coping with stress/change, effectively problem-solving and having healthy interactions and fulfilling relationships.

Each person playing the different roles struggles with guilt, yet on a deeper level each role actually struggles with shame. Although at first they wouldn’t admit this. You might be asking: What’s the difference between shame and guilt? In simple terms, guilt is what I’ve done or haven’t done. Shame is who I believe I am. Shame is much more paralyzing and in the energy of shame we need to protect ourselves more. Many say its guilt they are feeling when it’s really shame, because of who they believe and thus become in the experience, the emotions and beliefs they generate from the situation.

This diagram below, shows the 3 faces of victim-hood. The Victim is consumed and defined by their wounds turned to pain, becoming helpless and hopeless. The rescuer is the shadow mother – the caretaker, doesn’t want others to feel or be in pain. Rescuer seeks to fix the problem/pain. Which really is about avoiding their own pain and hardship. No growth come from this.  The persecutor is the shadow father energy, which needs to get even, to inflect pain, through anger and aggression.

The bottom part of the diagram is the way to transformation and empowerment. Each person chooses to take on a role that is more empowering both for themselves and others in the conflict or changing life experience.

The Transformation to Empowerment

Transformation happens, when each person openly acknowledges and admits to themselves and to someone else, their role in the drama triangle. With this acknowledgement, we begin to move toward acceptance and from this acceptance we begin to move forward. We begin to take responsibility for how we’ve shown up in life. This creates a sense of inner relief and creates the opportunity for change and transformation to happen.

Move from Victim energy to Creator energy:
 Person realizes the pain of being helpless and hopeless (victim) is greater than doing for themselves. The creator, now chooses to be the creator of their life, rather than a victim in their life. They take responsibility for how they’ve learned to show up in life, and choose to embrace a “can do” mindset and attitude. Creators, seek to reclaim their inner power and confidence through reconciling the wounds and negative self-beliefs of their past. Choosing now to not be a victim of their past, rather to learn from their past and no longer be defined by it. Creators, choose to live their true potential in the now. They recuse themselves and reclaim, the love, innocence and goodness they are.

In pushing into and engaging in their low self-worth and sense of powerlessness, creators, move from hopeless to hopeful, from powerless to empowerment. They understand now, they are the creator of their experiences and responsible for their own misery or happiness.

Move from Rescuer energy to Coach energy:
Person realizes in avoiding their own struggles and pain, they are creating more pain for themselves. They can openly see and admit that helping others, has been about the avoidance of self. Rescuers, come from fear, often feeling inadequate.  All this shows the rescuer,  how much they don’t love themselves.

The role of coach, plants seeds of possibilities for others, without needing to rescue or fix others. They realize the importance of rescuing themselves from the denial and avoidance of their own struggles and inner wounds. As the coach, they begin to build their self-worth more from the inside-out, rather than just outside-in. The coach, understands that taking care of the self is not selfish, it’s actually an expression and act of self-love. This is a fundamental way of helping others. Love your neighbor, as you love yourself. What you do “to” and “with” yourself, you do to the relationship you have with others. When we have our own inner house in order, we can more effectively be there for others. Our self-worth and happiness is not dependent on others. Here again, it’s about changing from the inside-out.

Move from Persecutor energy to Challenger energy:
This person has reconciled their inner desire to control and demean others. The persecutor to challenger, sees how they have been hurting others. Because, they themselves have been hurting deep inside. They take responsibility for their wounds, rather than making others responsible for this. Confronting and challenging themselves  to be a better, more loving version to themselves.  In the words of a greater master and teacher. The Persecutor to challenger, now acknowledges and accepts the log in their own eye, as they were before condemning the stick in their neighbor’s eye.

The Challenger, more confidently walks their talk,  gains respect  (rather than demands respect)  from others by leading by example. They move from the position of needing to be superior as way of hiding their insecurities to being open and authentic with others. Being a challenger, one is more comfortable with vulnerability and how this leads to greater trust and connection with others. They now challenge, rather condemn others to be a better version of themselves by speaking their truth with words of encouragement and peace. Modeling the way, rather than condemning the way.

In closing, understanding and reconciling our core negative beliefs about ourselves is crucial. Changing the story or narrative we’ve created about ourselves, in relation to our life experiences, is also important. This is the work towards knowing, healing and mastering the self. Furthermore, when we are aware of (know) how the players in the drama are created through our beliefs about ourselves within life experiences; especially those in childhood. This creates the opportunity to realize how we get caught up in drama. From this awareness, we create the willingness to transform ourselves to more healthy ways of being with conflict and change.

As expressed in the Transformation to Empowerment part of this blog. This transformation, allows us to effectively avoid or remove ourselves sooner from much of the potential drama in our life.
                 To know the self, is to empower and transform the self.

 

Need coaching or counseling with your relationship struggles, I’m a phone call or email away, to assist you. David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed and spiritual social worker, certified life transition coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. Visit David’s website: transitionpathways.com David’s book, Just Be Love is available through online bookstores: amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

To Improve Your Relationship: Understand this Gender Difference

There are several differences between men and women, some are obvious, some are subtle. Realizing, accepting and working with this particular gender difference can make a positive difference in the way you relate to each other.

Conflict and frustration in relationships often occurs simply because, we don’t understand why our partner thinks and acts a certain way. When it comes to thoughts, feelings and emotions there will typically be a difference in the way  men or women go about relating with you.

This gender difference impacts our ways of communicating, problem-solving and over-all interactions with each other. It stems from the way we perceive and relate to our thoughts, feelings and emotions; and the need we have with our partner in relation to our thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Men and women have thoughts, feelings and emotions; and these are important and not to be denied or discounted. Having acknowledged this, due to biological factors and social conditioning, one gender is typically more connected and concerned with thoughts, while the other gender is more connected and concerned with feelings and emotions.  Here’s the basic difference:

In general, the feminine aspect, typically (women) is more likely concerned with having their Feelings and Emotions respected.  The masculine aspect, (men) is likely more interested in having their Thoughts respected.

It should be noted, that some women may have more of the masculine aspect; and have a stronger desire for their thoughts to be respect. Some men might have more of the feminine aspect; and have a stronger need for their feelings and emotions to be respected. 

Women in general, come from their right brain, the intuitive and emotional side. They also come more from their heart center. So they are more concerned and value their relationships. Because of this, women in life and in their relationships will more naturally relate to and from their feelings and emotions.

On the other hand, most men are in their logic and thinking state, come from their left brain. So they relate to thoughts, in logic oriented ways of being in life and in their relationships. As a way of connecting, men relate more to their occupation and status (position).

For example: In social settings, women will typically, talk more about family and friends, social concerns (relationships/heart). Men generally, will converse more about their occupation, sports, objects i.e. cars, boats, women, money (logic/head).   

It’s not about who is right or wrong, with this way of being and relating. It is the way the genders are wired and conditioned to be in the world, and relate to each other.

It’s not about needing the other person to think, feel and be how I am. This is control and creates a love relationship that is conditional.

It’s about seeking to understand the other person as best I can, learning to accept this difference. Being willing to learn how best to relate and interact with this difference. This is unconditional love. 

A part of you, wants your partner or friend to be like you are. However, life is about contrast, in order to know one, we need to experience its opposite. That’s why we have male and female, light and dark, sorrow and joy.  Neither is really right or wrong it just is “the nature of things.”

It’s about accepting and honoring our differences, and working with them.

Gentlemen, out of love seek to understand, step out of your comfort zone. Take time and effort to connect more with your partner’s feelings and her deeper emotions, even if it doesn’t seem natural or logical to you. Connect your heart to her heart.

Ladies, out of love, get into your man’s world, honor his thoughts and work at seeing his logic as best you can, even if it doesn’t make sense or seem natural to you.       Don’t wait for your partner to make the first move. Authentic love, asks us to take the initiative, to seek to understand the other. If you both work at seeking to understand the other, you find the common ground within the differences.

Unconditional Love seeks the common ground, to accept, honor, and learn to interact within the differences, and enhance the similarities.  

What are your thoughts or feelings on these gender differences?  Feel free to comment below.

 

Are you struggling with understanding and working gender differences? David Schroeder, can help you reclaim the love and goodness you are. If you would like assistance with reclaiming this love and goodness David is here to assist you with his life transition coaching and counseling sessions. He offers in-person, by phone or Skype sessions. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and love yourself again.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or JustBeLove  Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

Forgiveness: Moving Beyond the Injustice

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful healing tools we have for reconciling and moving beyond from the hurts and wounds of life. It’s also a profound act of love and acceptance, especially self-love. For when we forgive another person or ourselves for a wrong doing, we set ourselves free and we benefit the most from the forgiveness. Despite the healing and liberating power of forgiveness; for many of us, the act of forgiveness is one of the most resisted and thus difficult acts we can offer to others or ourselves.

I’ve come to appreciate the only reason we have forgiveness, is because we make something matter. When we make something matter, we create an intense emotional charge within us. So an unjust “cause” done to us creates a strong “effect”, often having lasting emotional, physical, social and spiritual “effects” on us. The act of forgiveness helps to lower the emotional charge and intensity within us and helps liberate us from the painful experience.

Forgiveness is not about excusing the offense or saying/believing it didn’t happen. Forgiveness is not really about the offender, it’s about the one who is affected by the cause, the one holding on to the anger, resentment, grief. Being trapped in resentment, anger, depression, grief; waiting for the offender to take responsibility and ownership of the hurt toward us, is giving away our own power, inner peace and freedom. The more we can take charge of our own healing without an expectation that the offender needs to say something to us, or do something for us, the more empowered and liberated we can be. The quote by Lewis Smedes speaks volumes about the importance of forgiveness: “To forgive is to set the prisoner free and to discover that that prisoner was you.”

Forgiveness is an act of love, and love is freedom. To forgive is to be free and a way to love. Forgiveness means to go beyond our wounded ego self, in order to free the self. The willingness to go beyond the wounded self is to rise as love, to let go of what no longer serves us, so in time we can be restored to wholeness. 

Perhaps you’re not willing and/or ready to forgive someone. That’s okay and where you are currently at. Forgiveness is not something to be forced upon or to do out of guilt, if you are not ready. One should be open, willing and accepting in order to truly forgive. Human nature is such that, we are all at different stages of willingness and readiness. If this be the case, at least consider the importance of reconciling within yourself how hanging on to negative perceptions, create toxic emotions of anger and resentment leading to paralyzing beliefs and resulting self-defeating behaviors. How all this can affect many areas of your life in ways that are not helpful to you.   

I offer you the possibility and opportunity of considering a process I call “inner reconciliation.” Inner reconciliation is a way of reorienting our perceptions and beliefs about the experience and ourselves within the fact that our life has been disrupted either mildly or severely by a wrongful act toward us. Our ego defenses and beliefs often says: “They wronged us/hurt us and so let’s stay mad, bitter resentful, etc, that way we have a sense of power and control; since we didn’t have power and control during the offending experience.” Our anger, resentment and such, become a lens through which we see ourselves and the wrong doing. Its destructive thinking, beliefs and behaviors we create as a way to keep feeding our hurt and pain, in order to keep it alive and justify it. This is only hurting ourselves now, within the fact that we were hurt by someone in the past. This is unfortunately how victim energy and behaviors begin to take root, and if not tamed and reconciled can become our way of life.

Like grief, forgiveness is a process and takes time, willingness and commitment toward moving beyond what has hurt us and seemed unfair. When we can change our perception and belief about the experience, we begin to change our world and the way we interact in it. The process of forgiveness, like moving through any change we experience in our life, is an inside job. The job and empowerment of moving through what I call the 4 R’s: Recognize: who and how I am being with my current perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, feelings/emotions and behaviors. We can’t change or move beyond something unless we acknowledge it and tell the true to ourselves about ourselves. Reconcile: The willingness to resolve the inner pain and torment. Release: To let go of what no longer serves and benefits us. This offers space for healthier and more empowering possibilities to enter into your reality. Reframe: Is to now choose to see the painful experience, yourself and the offender, in a different and more constructive way. To see the glass more full than empty. This creates the willingness and courage to construct a more positive and affirming belief about yourself, within the unfortunate experience.  

In my own life, I’ve had many opportunities to practice forgiveness in what seemed at first, an unjust cause. I offer two experiences. One, was my wife of twelve years wanting a divorce, at the time it didn’t seem fair and not my choice. I was hurt, angry and frustrated. In time, I came to a place accepting her choice and let go of making her responsible for my feelings and behaviors within the stress and change. She made her choice out of self-love and what was best for her. I also had a choice of how I would move through it and who I wanted to be within a difficult situation. The choice of hanging on to anger, sadness and resentment and such, would only take me down a self-destructive and unfulfilling path. Through accepting the things I could not change, forgiving her and myself, and empowering myself to change what I could, which was only myself, this allowed me to change my situation from the inside out and move on in my life, and be a better version of myself and a father. Years later my ex-wife and I are friends and get along well on behalf of our sons and grand children. 

Several years ago, while driving my car I was hit head on, by a driver who was attempting to pass the car in front of him. The driver of this car was ticketed for failure to yield the right of way and his insurance company settled with me. Several months after the settlement, this man decided to sue me for mental harm. It was amazing that it ended up in a jury trial. I was in disbelief and just dumbfounded how I could be setting in a courtroom on trial for something I didn’t cause. Fear, anger, and uncertainty filled my days waiting for the court appearance and the verdict. I was found not guilty. A part of me with its voice inside me, understandably wanted to turn around and sue this guy, and many people suggested this. But another voice inside said, let it go, just let him be, he’s an old unhappy man, no need to put more fuel in the fire. I had compassion for this man and his struggle with needing revenge and justice, while not acknowledging and accepting he was in the wrong. He taught me, you never win a war – with war. So I forgave the error. In his need to get back at me, he was unaware of what his anger and resentment was doing to himself. I was at peace and moving on with life.

This man was after all, another teacher and opportunity for me through this difficult life experience. Through his actions, he was offering me the opportunity of learning and practicing the gift of moving beyond the injustice and my wounded self, toward acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.

You see, when you realize we have choices within difficult, painful and unjust experiences to see the offender as the threat and the enemy or the teacher and the opportunity. Depending on how you view it and think about it, is how you will experience it. What we think about we bring about.  When we can accept and understand that our experiences are really our teachers and opportunities to practice acts such as: acceptance, compassion and forgiveness, we take the high road with love, creating the willingness and commitment to move beyond the hurt, and learn the lesson for soul growth and self-mastery. Is this an easy task to get too? No. Is forgiveness a liberating and life changing act to engage in, that offers higher meaning? Yes, for sure. Life isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to be meaningful.

Questions to consider: Why might you struggle with forgiveness?  What would be the benefits of forgiveness for you?  How does acceptance and willingness aid the forgiveness process?  Feel free to leave a comment, share your answers to above questions, and/or share your experience with forgiveness.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com