Dealing with Drama Cycles

Door to Entrance Roles

    In complex and difficult social situations we default to one of three roles; prosecutor, rescuer or victim. These roles are not really who we are, but a kind of role play to deal with deep-seated beliefs about oneself yet to be accepted and transformed into mature forms of emotion.

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    The Prosecutor, Rescuer and Victim

    The drama triangle was developed by Stephen Karpman. The triangle maps forms of destructive behaviors that occur between oneself and others, usually others whom they are in conflict with.

    The prosecutor is often unaware of the strength of their power and thus when it is used it is often destructive and negative. The rescuer saves people they see as vulnerable and weak, often times hindering that person from actually gaining the strength and independence they need to thrive. The victim is overwhelmed by vulnerability and avoids responsibility for their own situation.

    Recognize & Accept

    I can wholeheartedly admit that I’ve been trapped in this drama cycle for longer than I’ve lived outside of it as a mature, healthy adult. As a rescuer, I feel the need to take care of my parents, put myself in dangerous or uncomfortable situations to help someone else, and have been drawn to dating people who I viewed as projects in need of my repair. As a prosecutor, I exercise manipulative behaviors to benefit my need for control, judge others and their situations before seeking to understand and even feel “out of a job” when people don’t need my fixing. As a victim, I often lack the ability to communicate my needs, feel overwhelmed by my past experiences and the ways in which they surface in my present reality, seek (sexual, physical and emotional) validation through others, and say I’ll do things but never follow through for excuses I come up with on the fly.

    Stopping the Drama

    Know that on a deep level, you are capable and deserving of a happy life free of suffering, firstly by acknowledging ways in which painful moments are moments to learn from, not hang onto.

    It will be a slow recovery process to transform dramatic behaviours into empowering behaviours, but you can certainly take action today. Set a few intentions that will display emotional maturity.

    They can be as small as not complaining of pain for a single day, despite how much pain you may be in. Another goal would be to show up for others in a healthy way, by setting boundaries for your own energy. The victim, prosecutor and rescuer mentalities will be deeply ingrained in your behaviours so it's important to pay close attention. Just when you think you've mastered one, it may actually be disguised as something else entirely.

    Take Control of Your Emotions

    I know that I've said this a million times before, but it is something I truly believe in and live by. You can be your own coach, your own challenger and see that life is happening for you, not to you. We use other people as crutches when we are afraid of failure and often times, the people we lean onto are just distractions from looking within and gaining a deeper understanding of yourself. There is no one in this planet that needs you more than YOU do. If you can show up for yourself first, being a stable person will only awaken those around you to their own inner strength.


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