In this episode we talked about the Drama Triangle, how to recognize it, how to avoid playing the game, and how to use that understanding to eliminate drama in your life.
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All right, hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Emotional Embuffination podcast. I am your host, David Enevoldsen. And on this show we are exploring different ways to become emotionally buff. That basically means two things. One is we're learning how to deal with conflict more effectively, and two is we are learning how to optimize happiness, how to be happier all the time, how to make sure that we're minimizing those negative feelings and the negative experiences that so many people want to wallow in or maybe don't even want to but just end up wallowing in. This podcast is just one of many resources I have available. Please check out my website if you want to find out anything additional. It's the Emotional Embuffination website which is embuffination.com. There's a lot of cool stuff on there. And on today's show we are going to be talking about one of my favorite topics of all time, and that is the Drama Triangle. Anybody that knows me or has talked to me has probably heard me make some sort of reference to the Drama Triangle. It has been hugely impactful to me. It has been hugely impactful in my personal life. It has been huge in my legal practice. I recognized so many problems as an attorney and completely altered the way that I interface with other people, with myself, with problems, with challenges. And it has eliminated so much drama from my life.
It is a really, really powerful model. And so, we're going to talk about that today. Let me start off by just describing a little bit about where I came from before I actually knew much about the Drama Triangle. I'd heard about it off and on over the years and I knew the labels and a lot of times I hear presentations about it where they're just kind of rudimentararly, talking about what the components of the Drama Triangle are. But I don't think I really understood it in depth, and I think there's a lot more to it than what most people give it credit for. Let me describe where I started with this. So, before I really understood what was going on, my life was a disaster. And this is one of the things I talk about on Emotional Embuffination all the time is sort of the emotional state that I was in. In short, I was a suicidal train wreck. Go back in time a little bit. When I first became an attorney, I was mismanaging everything in my life, especially my emotional states, but also everything around me that was kind of inflaming the situation that I was in, in any given moment, making it worse, creating problems. And I had I didn't realize what was going on. I had trouble at home. I was dealing with kids and I didn't know how to deal with them. They weren't doing anything inappropriate or abnormal.
They were just kids and needed attention and various other things that kids need. But I felt so drained by being around them. I, I started to resent them. And it got to a point where I just I didn't want to hear the noise. I didn't want to see my house destroyed. It was just it felt painful all the time to interact with them. When I went to work, it didn't feel like any sort of a respite there either. Everything just felt exhausting all the time. And I would go to work and I was working as an attorney in family law at that time, which meant that I was dealing with custody fights over children. I was dealing with divorces, and I felt like I was going through everyone else's divorce. I was taking on all the emotions from all these wildly crazy events in other people's lives. And I was absorbing it completely. That alone left me being a complete train wreck. I think that one of the things that drew me into being an attorney, especially a family law attorney, where there's a lot of litigation, is I kind of wanted to help people. I thought I was doing something good. I thought I was coming in and I was going to rescue these people that were being oppressed or being served some sort of injustice by another party. Oftentimes, I would see abuse victims. I would see people where the other side was doing something terrible to children or there were domestic violence things.
There was a lot of stuff that seemed oppressive to clients. And I wanted to help them. I wanted to be part of a solution to some of these problems in people's lives. The consequence of that was that I started to take on cases where I really believed in the cause and I would jump into the case and sometimes I'd lash out at the other party and I'd send them nasty letters. I'd call them on the phone saying nasty things on the phone and inevitably, I was dealing with a lot of clients who could not continue to pay me throughout the case. They would have a very small amount of money and then they would run out. And most of the time, for anybody that's not familiar with this, family law is done on an hourly basis, generally speaking. That is to say you bill for your time. So, you typically take money, put it into a trust account, you track how much time you're spending on a case, and you pull money out of the trust account. Once the trust account is depleted, the client has to put more money into the trust account. And the whole reason that's done that way is because, generally speaking, an attorney has no idea how long a family court case is going to take to come to resolution. And many of them go on and on and on for years.
So, if as a family law attorney, I say to a client, well, I'll just do your whole case for $500, and then I spend the next five years in nonstop litigation, I'm going to go broke. And so, everybody does it on an hourly basis. Well, I would take these cases on and people would put some money in the trust account and then they would run out. And then I would say, well, I need more money. And they'd say, "Well, I don't have any more money, please help me." And I would feel terrible. I would stay in the case, basically stressing myself out like crazy, and I wasn't getting paid for it. And these people wouldn't lead or bring any more money into the mix. I just felt bad for them because I thought they needed help. So, all of this culminated in me just being a nonstop emotional train wreck. I ended up going through a divorce. I ended up really stressing myself out. There was one particular moment, this is one of the things that I talk about in Emotional Embuffination all the time, where I just felt like if I'd had a gun in my hand, I would have ended my life right then. I didn't, obviously, I got some help from various places, but I was a mess. Now I'm going to come back to that. Keep that a little story in your mind for just a second. Or put it in the back of your mind for a second. What I did not realize was that I was utterly immersed in the Drama Triangle.
I didn't know too much about the Drama Triangle at that point. This was a model I learned about a little bit later, or at least learned about it in more substance a little bit later. And it was creating drama. It was making my life a mess. I didn't know that I was wrapped up in this whole thing. I didn't know that I was taking on these different orientations in the Drama Triangle, but I was. And later it became very clear. So, let's talk about what this is first. The Drama Triangle is known by a couple of different names. Sometimes it's called just the Drama Triangle. Sometimes it is called the Dreaded Drama Triangle. Sometimes it is called the Karpman Drama Triangle. And that's after Dr. Stephen Karpman, who created the Drama Triangle model in the first place. Sometimes it's called the Victim Triangle. But whatever the label that we're attaching to it, it's essentially the same thing. And that is a representation of how people interact amidst conflict, amidst things that they don't like, and specifically how they interact with other people. It's a triangle. So, of course it has three points on it, and each of the points on the triangle is representative of a different mindset orientation that someone can have when they're approaching one of these problems.
The three positions on the triangle, the three orientations are: Persecutor, Rescuer, and Victim. Persecutor. Rescuer. Victim. Now, the triangle is always oriented such that the victim is on the bottom point. The persecutor's in the upper left and the rescuer's in the upper right. And so, one of the explanations I've heard from Dr. Karpman is that the idea is if you almost imagine one of those old stringed puppets that are kind of being dangled by strings and they're being controlled by each of a person's two hands. Imagine the victim is the puppet down on the bottom of the triangle and the rescuer and the persecutor are the two hands that are manipulating the victim, because in essence, this whole thing starts with the victim. Let's talk about the victim orientation first. The victim is most often characterized by being helpless, by advertising their helplessness. They will frequently complain. They won't seek out resolution to something. They may or may not be a legitimate victim of a situation. For example, a victim orientation in this Drama Triangle might be someone who is a victim of domestic violence. That person is morally and ethically a victim. But, if they start to go into all these other characterizations of the mindset, then they are also a victim with respect to the Drama Triangle. The victim is frequently driven to action, if at all, only through anxiety.
And their mantra tends to be, "I can't do this. I can't do this without help. I need somebody to do this for me. I need help." The persecutor, remember, this is the upper left portion of the Drama Triangle, is characteristically going to do things that criticize. They're going to pressure, coerce, attack. They kind of lash out, in essence. They frequently will use verbal force. Sometimes they will use violence. And you see these in the domestic violence situations where a an abuser is angry that somebody or is doing something that they don't like or they think is inappropriate. And they think it's necessary. And that's an important characteristic of the persecutor orientation, is that the persecutor thinks they need to do what they're doing. A lot of times they'll think, "I'm trying to help you or I'm trying to preserve the social contract, or I'm trying to make sure you're not getting away with something that you shouldn't be getting away with." The one of the pop culture references we hear all the time is the Karen. You know, we hear this all the time where there's usually an upper middle-aged white woman with a short hair haircut is how the the stereotype has come out. And she comes out and she just starts yelling snarky things about something somebody's doing wrong and demanding to see a manager. That's a persecutor orientation. If you embrace the stereotype, at least. The idea that I'm going to lash out, somebody is doing something that's not right.
I need to set it right. Very frequently you'll see abusers do this too, with the thought process that they have to teach their victim a lesson, like they have to tell this person they can't get away with something or they need to behave in a certain way, that kind of thing. The persecutor is driven to action through fear of loss of control. Typically, they're very controlling. They want to make sure that they've got a grip on the situation and things aren't going to spin out of control. Their mantra tends to be something like, "I'm not going to let you get away with this. You can't do this. I'm going to stop you." Now, an important side note here is that the persecutor role, in the nomenclature that I'm often using can be one of two things. It's something it's the orientation that we're talking about where somebody's lashing out. Oftentimes it's something that the victim is perceiving. For example, if I say, "I'm a victim of that other person over there, he or she did something to me." I'm seeing that other person as a persecutor. That may or may not be legitimate. But that's that's often the nomenclature that we're talking about. Persecutors, frequently act from the intention of correction of what they think are social wrongs. These actions frequently come from a place of anger.
There's a meme that I saw recently on Facebook, and in that meme there's a picture of a car. And this car is kind of parked in between two different parking spots right on the line. So it's one of these people that are taking up two spots, in essence, to try to make sure nobody's parking near them. And in the photograph, somebody else has taken a whole bunch of shopping carts and lined it all around the car. So it's going to be like a nightmare to get this person's car out without going through all this trouble of removing these carts. And in the caption, it says, "Obviously, someone was very upset with the way this person parked." Well in my mind the first thing I thought was, "This is a persecutor." You know, the person that went out saw this person parked across the line between these two spaces, said, "That's not right. You can't get away with this. I need to teach you a lesson." So, they go in there and they start lining up all these carts around to make sure that this won't ever happen again. Also, an important note here is that the persecutor doesn't necessarily have to be a person. For example, I've ever heard somebody say like, "Does anybody ever feel like God is not kind to you?" Or, "Why is this my luck?" That, "All these things are always happening to me." Those kinds of comments are references to sort of the universe or God or my luck or whatever.
In those situations, you're perceiving a persecutor to be something other than a human being, right. Maybe if the storm tears through your house, there's no human behind that. But you're still feeling like you're a victim of the situation or the storm or whatever.
The third orientation is the rescuer orientation. Now, the rescuer loves to be a white knight, loves to jump in and save the day, wants to help people. Remember what I did when I was an attorney. I wanted to help people. The problem is they frequently confuse saving someone for helping. That is to say they'll come in and try to do the job for someone else. Now, this is not an empowering position because if I come in and I just fix the problem for you, I haven't really helped you. I've kind of stopped the immediate problem, but I haven't really taught you to deal with the problem on an ongoing basis. It's sort of like the old parable about, I can teach you to fish or I can hand you a fish. If I'm just handing you a fish, I'm feeding you just today. If I teach you to fish, I'm feeding you in perpetuity. Same kind of thing here with the rescuer, they're so hung up on this subconscious need to be the white knight that they're going to try to solve the problem on behalf of a victim.
So frequently they will also jump in when they're not even asked to. You'll see somebody try to intervene in a problem that they think is there and they jump in and they want to rescue somebody and start attacking somebody else. They are frequently driven to action through just this desire to be needed. And their mantra tends to be something like, "I just want to help. I want to help you. I want to help those people over there because they can't help themselves."
Now, here's another meme that I saw on Facebook, which I thought was fascinating, because if you just listen to it quickly in a vacuum, it sounds nice. And it says, "I never want my kids to mess up and think, 'mom is going to kill me.' I want their first thought to be, 'I need to call my mom.'" Now think about that for just a second. Sounds good on its face. Yeah, I don't want my kids to be afraid of me. I don't want them to be terrified that I'm going to murder them if something goes wrong. I want them to be able to approach me and talk through a problem, right? But the last part of that is I want their first thought to be I need to call my mom. That is a rescuer orientation thought process. And it's interesting to me because this is a contrast between essentially two different drama roles, two different drama orientations.
And that is, on the one hand, we're talking about a persecutor, "Mom's going to kill me." That means mom is going to lash out at me in a persecutor orientation. Mom is angry that I did something wrong and she feels like I need to correct that thing. And so she's going to yell at me, lash out in anger in an effort to fix the problem. But then we swing to the opposite end of the spectrum and we say, "I want their first thought to be, 'I need to call my mom.'" So remember that the rescuer is always looking at, I'm going to fix the problem for you, not I'm going to empower you in a way that you're going to be able to fix this problem. And so now we've said, I need to call my mom. In other words, I can't solve this problem without my mom being there because I, as mom, want to jump in and be the savior. That's problematic from a Drama Triangle perspective because you just jumped into a rescuer role. Another thing I want to highlight here, and I think this is frequently confused by people who talk about the Drama Triangle in just sort of a superficial way is that you are not just intrinsically one of these roles. You are not just inherently a victim. You are not just inherently a rescuer. You are not just inherently a persecutor.
These are orientations. These are mindsets. These are things that people drift into by way of the way that they are thinking and the things that they are doing as a result of that thought process. Here's a quote from Dr. Stephen Karpman in his book, A Game Free Life, which is really, really fascinating, and I highly recommend it. It's a little clinical, but it's a if you want to really get into the Drama Triangle, this is a great read. In it, he says, "I want to emphasize that persecutor, rescuer and victim are not people. They are merely roles people play more or less consciously when they are in psychological games." So these are orientations. These are just mindsets. Now, here's another important point that sort of spins out of that is that we are not locked into one of these positions. In fact, the underlying model is that we tend to have proclivities for a particular position. That is to say we might drift into victimhood, that orientation more often than the others, like persecutor or rescuer. But we are definitely not stuck there. And somebody that is caught up in this Drama Triangle will shift into the other orientations. So, for example, let's say that you are totally in victim mode and you are just thinking, "I can't do anything. That person over there is doing all this terrible stuff to me and he's holding me back or she's holding me back and I just cannot live my life because of them."
And then all of a sudden you hit this boiling point and you explode and you start screaming at this person. Now all of a sudden you've shifted from victim into persecutor. You're lashing out. I see this also sometimes there's another example where you have the rescuer come in, try to save somebody from being a victim from someone else and end up turning into a victim themselves. Like, for example, I've seen times where there's a domestic violence situation. Somebody says, "Oh my gosh, we need to get you out of there. You shouldn't be abused. Why don't you come move in with me until you can get on your feet?" The victim moves in with the rescuer and then won't do anything to move their life forward. They won't go get a job. They won't even try to get a job. They'll just sort of sit there and mooch on the person that was the rescuer. And then over time, the rescuer starts resenting it. They start getting irritated, they're losing money, their house is in disarray, and all of a sudden they start feeling like the victim. So you can always be switching around and you do when you're playing this game. Here's an example of one of these transitions that I was just describing. Here's another quote. "When you have a good heart, you help too much. You trust too much. You give too much. You love too much. And it always seems like you're the one who gets hurt the most."
Now, this is a really common transition. This is the I'm a rescuer because I'm going out I'm going out and helping and then I transition into a victim. I was trying to just help people and it switched into I'm the one getting injured. This is an extremely common theme because one of the problems with rescuers is that they tend to be really bad at setting boundaries. They don't know when to stop. There's another meme that I think also illustrates the same kind of thing where you talk about like the Healers journey, and then you've got a picture of somebody saying, "Are you okay?" And there's another person that has like one arrow in their back and they're crying. And this healer is standing up proudly while they've got 20 arrows in their back. The idea here is, "I'm the helper. I'm going to go out of my way, I'm going to kill myself, I'm going to sacrifice everything I have in order to make sure people are safe." This is very much rescuer mindset. Here's another transition. I thought this was sort of a fun one. And I don't know if this is real or not, but it's another one of these memes that I see going around on Facebook sometimes. And it purports to be a text message string between two parties. And at the top there's a sofa bed for sale. And the first person says, "Is this still available?" A couple of minutes later, "Hello?" A couple of minutes later there's no response yet, "I'm late to pick up my daughter and I need to know now." A few minutes later, the seller responds and says, "Jesus, man, I'm sorry, It's been like 5 minutes. Yes, it's available." Now, the original person that was messaging says, "I was late picking up my daughter because of you. I demand a reduction in the price or I'm not taking it." And then the seller says, "Well, I guess you won't take it then. Tell your daughter I'm sorry, you're her dad." Notice how this is a transition again from I'm a victim. I was a victim of this situation. You made me late to pick up my daughter. There's a thing I don't like, and I'm helpless because of this into persecutor. I'm now lashing out at you. I'm angry because you caused this and I need to set things right. And you can set things right by giving me a discount. Notice also that a lot of times the orientations don't have to make sense on the outside. That is to say they may sound perfectly reasonable to the person experiencing them. From the outside, they may or may not make sense. Again, remember, we talked earlier about how a domestic violence victim could also be a victim in Drama Triangle orientation, or they might not be. The same thing in all sorts of other situations.
You may or may not legitimately be upset or be a victim or whatever in order to be in this Drama Triangle role. It's just your perception. Now, another little side note here is that, remember, this is sort of like a game. This whole thing is something that people unconsciously do. And we sort of walk around looking for other people to play with. Now, the Drama Triangle is sort of a sub grouping of what's called transactional analysis, which was developed by a fellow named Eric Berne. There's another fascinating book called The Games People Play, if you want to learn more about that. But the basic idea is that we're going around and we're engaged in these different transactions with other humans. Now the Drama Triangle is sort of a sub grouping of transactional analysis because it's dealing specifically with these situations where somebody's upset about something. They're dealing with something they don't like. And so, when we are engaged in these situations and we're interacting with other people, we go out of our way to sort of invite them to play things. We want to play this game along with them. Now, there are all sorts of invitations, and this is part of what I find so fascinating about the Drama Triangle is that once you know this game, once you recognize that it's there, you'll see invitations to play all the time. And they come in all sorts of different forms.
For example, somebody walks up to you at a party, and I've had this many times and within 2 minutes they're telling you about their crazy illness. What is that telling you? It's not because they needed to tell you about their illness. They probably didn't. If they even have an illness, they often do. But this is them inviting you to play the drama game with them. That is to say they want to be a victim. They want you to jump in and play rescuer and say, "Oh my gosh, you poor thing. I can't believe this happened to you. That's terrible. That disease is your persecutor. This is wrong." Now all of a sudden, we're playing this game. I've jumped into sort of a rescuer role, and I may not be taking a lot of action here, but I am at least consoling this person and trying to step into the game. There are so many different ways to play this. The problem and that's what this all boils down to and that's what we're coming to, is why do we care? So let's say that we acknowledge that everybody is indeed playing this game or a lot of people are playing this game and we're jumping around to these different roles and we're walking around inviting other people to play.
At the end of the day, why do we care? I would submit to you that, number one, it inherently creates drama, just like the name implies. It makes everything more dramatic, makes us reactive, and it typically causes problems to escalate. Let me give you an example of this. And this is kind of a prototypical example I used to see in sort of a domestic violence situation. Imagine that you have somebody who is legitimately a victim of domestic violence. They have, let's say it's a woman. She's married to her husband and her husband is beating her on a regular basis. He comes home drunk and he just takes all his frustrations out on her. She doesn't deserve it. She's legit a victim. But nonetheless, she just sort of sits there and nothing happens. And she's so battered down that she doesn't even know what to do other than take it and be abused. Maybe one day she tells her only girlfriend about what's going on. She opens up. The girlfriend says, "Oh my God, that's terrible, you poor thing. How could this happen to you? Why? Why is he doing that? You deserve so much better. This is terrible." Let's say that girlfriend then tells her boyfriend or husband or something about what's going on. And then the boyfriend or husband says, "What the hell? What is wrong with this guy? If I had 5 minutes alone with him, I would tell him what's what."
Then let's say that this boyfriend goes and spends 5 minutes alone with the woman's husband and beats the ever living heck out of him. That's what most of us want to see, right? Most likely, and I've seen things like this before in my family law practice, most likely he's going to turn around and take it out on his wife. He's going to say, "What the hell lies did you tell that guy? What did you do? What, are you having an affair with him? You're a horrible monster." And he's going to unload on her again. She gets beat up. Then she goes to her girlfriend and says, "Oh my gosh, he's beating me. She says, You don't deserve that. This is unfair." And this cycle just kind of gets worse and worse. Like things don't change. That's the intrinsic problem with this whole thing, is nothing is really solving a problem unless somebody steps in and fundamentally alters the situation. Also, another major problem here is that it is extremely disempowering. So, think about what's happening with this this woman in our example, who is a legitimate victim of domestic violence. Rather than saying, "Let's develop a plan to get you out of there and make this abuse stop." The friend just has her boyfriend or her husband go and beat up the abuser. That just inflames the problem. It doesn't change anything. It makes him unload even more.
And it doesn't teach the victim anything about how to solve the problem on her own. So even if there is some sort of short-term solution, like let's say they, the girlfriend and her boyfriend, take this victim into their home to sort of protect her for a while, but then nothing else happens. She just sort of stays there forever. This person is not learning to actually deal with the problems. So, it's disempowering. It escalates the situation. It creates patterns of dependency. The Drama Triangle is not good news. Let me circle back for a second to my story when I first started this whole thing. I was absolutely a victim. I felt like I was a victim of my kids. I felt like I was a victim of life. I wanted to kill myself. I felt like everything was oppressive. It was awful. When I became an attorney, I regularly jumped into rescuer orientation. Remember, part of being a rescuer is having poor boundaries. I wanted to be the white knight. I wanted to save the day. I wanted to save these oppressed people and help. And I would do it for no pay frequently, and I would work myself into the ground, which created all sorts of stresses in my personal life. I also acted as a persecutor. Sometimes I was lashing out at other people. I was lashing out at the other parties in cases, whether warranted or not. I was engaging in persecutor behavior, so I was totally enmeshed in this whole Drama Triangle thing.
Now that begs the next question, which is, okay we can accept that the Drama Triangle is out there. We start to see it. What the heck do you do about it? There are a number of different models. There are two in particular that I am really fond of. And I actually like to merge these two into one in my own personal experience. One is the empowerment dynamic. There's a book that this comes from called The Power of TED. T-E-D, The Empowerment Dynamic. The other is developed by Dr. Karpman, who created the Drama Triangle, and that's called the Compassion Triangle. Let's talk about the power of or the the empowerment dynamic first. TED, the empowerment dynamic essentially takes the Drama Triangle and flips it over. So, remember that in the Drama Triangle model, we always have the victim on the bottom of the triangle. The triangle sort of pointed down, persecutor's in the upper left. Rescuer's in the upper right. Well, in the empowerment dynamic, we flip the triangle over. So now the point is on the top and we reframe each of the roles. So on the top, instead of a victim, we now have a creator. Instead of a persecutor down on the lower left, we have a challenger. Instead of a rescuer, we have a coach. All of these are just essentially taking the same basic problems but reframing how we deal with them.
Start with the victim for a second. So, victim shifts into creator. Instead of just saying, I can't do anything, I'm helpless, the victim becomes a creator and says, "I'm going to create the resolution that I want. I'm going to create resolution. I'm going to create the situation that I want." And essentially what you do is you identify steps that are going to get you there. These can be a little baby steps, but you identify the steps that are going to get you to resolution and you start moving through them. That's the creator role. Instead of being a rescuer, we turn into a coach. The key distinction here with a coach is that you don't want to just solve the problem for a victim who we're trying to turn into a creator. Instead, we want to see them as empowered, resourceful people, and we want to figure out how to highlight that empowerment. We want to make sure that they are able to do things on their own and they start to feel the gratification and the empowerment that comes from being able to solve a problem on their own. So as a coach, you may come in and see somebody dealing with a problem and say, "I see what's going on here. How about we develop a plan and you sort of take on this, take it or leave it approach with the victim/creator and you say, "Okay, how do we get you out of there? Let's kind of sit down and think about this reasonably. What are some baby steps you can take to change your situation?" And then they encourage the victim/creator to take those steps. But they're not doing it for them. That's the key distinction between rescuer and coach. You're encouraging and you're maybe helping outline a plan, but you're not solving everything on behalf of the victim. Lastly, we have the persecutor transitions into a challenger. Now, the challenger, remember this the persecutor is coming from a place of wanting to lash out out of anger because they see a problem. So, the challenger, in effect, sees a problem out there and tries to use their frustration over the problem to effectuate a positive change as amicably as possible. And that means doing it, the key here is without lashing out. One of the examples they give in the book is Gandhi, where Gandhi would go out and was just peaceably protesting something. He wasn't going out and killing people. He wasn't stabbing people; he wasn't screaming at people. He was just saying, "I think this thing over here is wrong and I'm going to protest it." So, the key thing with the persecutor is you're shifting the way that you're responding to problems from I'm going to just angrily lash out to I'm going to figure out how I can amicably, peacefully solve a problem.
So that's the the empowerment dynamic. The other model that I really like and again, I like to blend these two together, but the other one is the Compassion Triangle. Now, the compassion triangle, it doesn't flip the triangle over. It uses the same basic triangle we have from the Drama Triangle model, but it kind of reorients what you're doing in each of the roles. And it starts with the presumption that in any given Drama Triangle orientation, at least 10% of the person's intention is coming from a good place. For example, if we have the persecutor who's lashing out angry, maybe they're acting like the proverbial Karen, there's something in them that is coming from a place of wanting to right a wrong. There's something in them that is trying to do something that is right. The rescuer's trying to help. The rescuer wants to fix a problem for someone else. The victim may legitimately not have any idea how to fix their problem, and they may feel like they're dealing with this overwhelming oppressive issue. So that's the baseline. We start from this place of okay, wherever they're coming from is at least 10% a positive intention, if not more. But at least 10%. Then we respond accordingly. So, if we have a persecutor we apologize or we express some sort of an apology to this person and say, "Oh, my gosh, I'm sorry that the situation has happened." You recognize the attack. If you're in a rescuer, you give appreciation for their efforts.
Because remember, that's that's one of the core things that they want is to be recognized and be the white knight. So, you appreciate their efforts. If you have somebody that's in a victim role, you express sympathy. You say, "Oh, my gosh, you poor thing." The reason that I like to blend these two techniques, the empowerment dynamic and the compassion triangle, is that when I first learned about the Drama Triangle and I first learned about the empowerment dynamic, I thought at first that was it. I thought, "Wow, this is amazing." I actually sat down and was explaining to clients I would pull out a notepad and I would draw the triangle and I would describe all the roles. And I felt like there became this immediate disconnect when I was doing that for a while. In fact, in one situation, I did that and I had a client later start screaming at me that that was all me trying to sabotage him. And he felt like at that moment it seemed that was the beginning of our disconnect. I realized later that part of the problem was by me just saying, "Hey, fix your problems," it created a perception in the client that I just wasn't hearing them. I wasn't understanding them. I wasn't I didn't care about their problems because instead of saying, "Oh yes, let's sit around and whine about the issue," I was saying, "Let's stop that.
I don't want to hear about your complaining, let's just fix it." And I think that's how it was translating out. And so, when you combine in the compassion triangle, which very much comes from a place of understanding, it's coming from this place of like, "Oh my gosh, I see where you're coming from." I think when you start there, people feel more heard and people start to say, "Okay, you get what I'm going through." And then once you've got that going, then you start to redirect into the empowerment dynamic roles. If you're a coach, you can shift them into, "All right, so how do we resolve this problem?" And then you refocus the conversation onto solution or whatever the appropriate roles are there. It's important when you're explaining this to other people that they don't be in a moment of pain. I've had a lot of bad luck trying to do that. If if you're working with somebody that's in a moment of agony, don't just try to jam this in somebody's face. They generally are not going to be pretty receptive to it unless they were already working on it. I would say just be aware of the dynamics and kind of work through it. Now, if somebody is not in a moment of crisis, obviously feel free to discuss this. It's to me, it's a hugely powerful paradigm. If you are seeing behavior patterns and they're not receptive to you plant some seeds.
There's sometimes people just need time to digest things. Sometimes people need times to get to a healthy place where they're going to solve the problems. Don't jump into the mistake I did of just trying to solve everything in that rescuer orientation and say, "I've got to fix this problem. Now I see this." People will get there when they're ready. And if you try to force it, sometimes you'll just create another problem. For example, if you have somebody who is, say, a legitimate victim of domestic violence and you're trying to jump in and save the day and you're trying to do everything on their behalf, and maybe you get them out of this this terrible situation. A lot of times people I've seen this so many times, a lot of times people will get out of an abusive relationship and then jump right into another abusive relationship. And I think a big part of the problem and the reason that that happens is that they haven't really shifted out of the orientation that they were in in the first place. And when you don't shift out of that orientation, you're just going to keep falling into the same cycle. Remember, this is a game and we're walking around looking for other people to play with. That doesn't mean it's fair or that abuse is in any way okay. I'm not saying anything like that.
But if we are not paying attention to the drama dynamics, we have a tendency to get sucked into the drama in an unending basis. That is in a nutshell the Drama Triangle and I actually could say considerably more about this. It's a huge topic, but I want to not go too crazy long here, so I'm going to end it there. Again, this is a model I find so unbelievably powerful. I am, quite frankly, grateful that I ever found this in the first place. I'm grateful to Dr. Karpman for making the thing in the first place and creating the outline in his book. If you want to read a little more about it, those two books that I mentioned, there's The Power of TED. That book was written by David Emerald. Amazing read. It's a really easy read. It's available in Audible if you want to check it out. I highly recommend it. The other one is A Game Free Life, which was written by Dr. Stephen Karpman. Another amazing read. It's a little harder to get through because it's a little more clinical, but it's really fascinating and it deals with a lot of ins and outs of the Drama Triangle. So if you want to learn more about either of these and you want to go beyond my website or the Emotional Embuffination materials, check out those two books. They're great resources. Try to spot some of these patterns as you're going through your day and you're interacting with people kind of take a look and watch it. What people are doing and saying and how they're inviting the game or how they're playing the game. And also take a look at how you are doing it. Be very cognizant of what's going on. And once you can identify it, start to figure out places where you can reframe it and you can start shifting into some of these more empowered dynamics. We'll end it there. That brings us to the end of today's show. I hope you found this useful. Again, this is one of my favorite topics, so I I really hope you found this useful. I love this topic. I love the Drama Triangle. And it's it's a huge, hugely empowering dynamic in my mind. Remember, keep becoming emotionally embuffed. And to do that, you can't just do it once and drop it. You don't go to the gym one time, do a couple of curls and say, I'm buff forever. Like, you keep working on it, keep working on it. This podcast is one of the ways that we're going to continue to explore various things to make us more emotionally empowered, more emotionally embuffed. At the end of the day, remember, the objective is to become emotionally strong enough to go from saying, "The struggle is real," to saying, "What struggle?" Thank you all for listening. I hope you have a great week. I'll see you on the next show.