A perfectly easy way to spot dysfunctional relationships dynamics is by using the Drama Triangle. In order to have successful relationships and to avoid re-enacting dysfunctional ways of relating you need to be able to understand the dynamics between yourself and others. When and how do you end up in the position of feeling victimised? When and how are you 'sucked-in' to the position of the rescuer? And how does it happen that you find yourself persecuting others?
The victim is suffering or has a problem. Victims act as if they can't help themselves and need help from others. They don’t use clear adult thinking and problem solving skills. Victims believe (and act as if) they cannot think and feel at the same time. They think others have no problems and they feel less OK then others.
Rescuers do things they don't really want to do, or who do more than their fair share. In some cases they do so because they have a need to be needed It makes them feel superior and OK. Rescuers agree with victims' beliefs that they cannot solve their problems without the rescuer’s help. Rescuers step in to rescue before they are asked and seldom check out whether their help is really required.
Persecutors take advantage of others and their behaviour makes others suffer. Persecutors discount the feeling of their victims and don't give any importance to their victim. Persecution can take place in an active way (i.e. being abusive)or in a passive way (by being withholding or neglectful).
I would like you to notice that none of the above positions is effective and relationships based on the drama triangle are usually considered quite dysfunctional. People who are caught up in the drama triangle dynamic suffer badly. Nobody gets their needs met, nobody is happy, every position is undesirable. There is no happiness on the drama triangle.
This is especially the case because people change positions constantly on the drama triangle. The persecutor attacks the victim > the victim seeks help > the rescuer helps and criticises the persecutor effectively becoming the persecutor and putting the persecutor in the victim position > the persecutor defends him/herself and blames the rescuer effectively putting him/her in the victim position > now the victim comes to aid the persecutor ……. You get the drift? It goes on and on and on. No end in sight. Nobody wins, everyone loses.
The only way to win is not to play the drama triangle game and interrupt the dysfunctional merry-go-round. Instead of getting stuck in this dysfunctional dynamic, it is suggested that people shift over to the ‘Winners Triangle’.
THE WINNER'S TRIANGLE
What do you need to do to get onto the winner's triangle?Leave the victim position and move to the vulnerable position on the winner's triangle. The vulnerable person may suffer as well, but is engaging adult thinking and explores all avenues to solve her own problems.
Leave the rescuer position and move to the caregiver position on the winner's triangle. The caregiver only provides help when asked and when s/he is sure that the vulnerable person has needs that are beyond her ability to meet herself. The caregiver doesn’t have to care for others. When the caregiver does, however, s/he does so willingly without grudge or resentment.
Leave the persecutor position and move to the assertive position on the winner's triangle. The assertive person, like a persecutor, has access to their energy which is used to get their own needs met and to stick up for their own rights. Unlike a persecutor, the assertive person has no interest in using their energy to punish.
A large step towards healthy communication has been made when you avoid getting drawn into the drama triangle. It requires you to be observant of the dynamics, be aware of your own needs, and only help when the other person is unable to help themselves.
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