When we get stuck and feel unable to move forward with something, it’s often because we’ve left our adult selves behind and become either a ‘victim’, a ‘rescuer’ or a ‘persecutor’ – the three positions on the Drama Triangle devised by Karpman. We might recognise this when we feel to be stuck in repeating, negative patterns in our lives. For example, the man whose typical response is to blame everyone and everything else for his woes, or the woman who feels the need to constantly ‘rescue’ other people whilst ignoring her own need for support.
Interestingly, we may take on all 3 roles in turn, when we’re operating in a dysfunctional way – first Rescuer, perhaps, then because our own needs aren’t being met we move to Victim, and then because ‘no-one takes any notice’ we become the Persecutor.
Today I’d like to introduce you to a way of getting off that destructive triangle.
We are what we think – if we change our thoughts and beliefs, we can stop this unhelpful ‘game’. As we grow up, we unconsciously take on views and beliefs about ourselves and the world. These can be helpful e.g. ‘the world is a good place’ or ‘I am a good person’, or they can be unhelpful, such as ‘the world is a scary place’ or ‘I am unlovable’. We usually haven’t consciously chosen these views – we just absorb them from the influences of people and things that happen.
Consciously choosing different thoughts and beliefs is available to us as adults.
Steps to getting off the triangle and getting unstuck:
1. Identify your own limiting beliefs about yourself and your world.
2. Imagine instead how you want to be e.g. ‘I am lovable’ or ‘I am good enough’ or ‘the world is basically a safe place’.
3. Have a go at that new choice of belief. If your old view is being triggered, notice, breathe, and take responsibility for doing things differently and better.
4. If you find yourself regularly opting for a position on the Karpman triangle, have a go at the following, ‘adult’ approaches:
Victim – recognise and take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and reactions
Rescuer – take responsibility for what you choose to do to meet your own needs and those of others
Persecutor – take responsibility for defining your boundaries and giving yourself and others positive strokes
It will take time and practice to get off the triangle and behave in ways that are more helpful to you and your relationships. Stick at it though – after 7 days you will have created a new neural pathway in your brain, and after 30 days of sticking with it you will have developed the habit of new, more helpful ways of thinking and doing.
Recognise yourself in any of the above? Then have a go – and do let me know how you get on!