I just finished re-reading ‘The Power of TED’ by David Emerald and am pondering where I consistently jump into the Dreaded Drama Triangle. If you’re not familiar with the Drama Triangle, I invite you to get the book and read it. The Triangle consists of 3 positions we play in our self-created dramas: Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer. When you read the book, you’ll also learn that in your dramas, you play all the positions, just at different times, and for different periods of time.
Story-time (a real story):
Recently, I was given a very clear lesson as I reflect back on my own drama while at my nephew’s wedding.
Dan and I arrived at my sister’s place a couple of days prior to the Saturday wedding to help with preparations. On Friday, there were a bunch of tasks to be done, time schedules to meet, and challenges were presenting themselves right, left, and center.
I quickly jumped into the Rescuer Position of the Triangle, offering solutions, making decisions, and fixing situations where it was not my place. My actions indicated that I viewed my nephew as incapable, and less-than-resourceful.
I assume my nephew felt victimized. Harsh words ensued – from both of us as we looped around the Triangle from Victim to Persecutor to Rescuer.
The harsh words? I felt I needed to defend my ‘right’ position! I assume he was doing the same thing.
Upon reflection, I recognize that I wanted to know the plan for the day, and not having that shared with me, I unconsciously assumed there was no plan. That was the farthest thing from the truth! In fact, things were very well planned and my ‘rescuing behavior’ was messing up those plans.
I love my nephew deeply, and I wanted his special day to be exactly what he and his fiancée pictured it to be. Fortunately, things turned out beautifully, except for the nagging feelings I had. I hadn’t behaved as I would have liked. This gave me a huge opportunity to reflect and learn from those reflections.
Here’s what I learned: Just because I don’t know the plan, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
- Hmmmm, how often do I jump in to ‘help’ when I haven’t been asked?
- What is the underlying message I’m giving to the person with whom I am interacting?
- What is my intention in being soooo ‘helpful’?
As I analyzed (or is that anal – ized) those questions, I learned that my self-worth is often enhanced when I feel like I am valuable. If I can be of service to others, then I believe I add value, and am therefore valuable. Hmmm, so who am I if I am not performing an act of service?
I also learned that things are not always how they appear. Just because someone appears scattered, doesn’t mean that they don’t have a plan.
What might have happened if I had asked some questions such as:
- I’m curious. What does your plan for the day look like, sound like, feel like?
- In the bigger view of the day, how might I support you?
- What is the best thing I can do for you right now?
My most important task is to LISTEN to the responses. If I truly want to be of service, my job is to do whatever is asked of me – even if that is nothing! It is extremely important that I see the other person as being capable, resourceful, and a creator of their own experiences – to fulfill their own plan.
I missed the opportunity do that for my nephew, in the past. However, I know there will be more opportunities in the future to practice this and build the trust with him, and with others.
As I move forward, my reminder for myself is this thought, “Just because I don’t know the plan, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.”
How does this relate to you? I’d love to have a conversation with you.
By Carol Ohler