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Drama Triangle Class

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

We had 18 guys show up for this class. Fleet was also able to join us. He mainly sat in the back and observed, piping up every now and again. Richard opened with a weather report. I was surprised to hear some guys respond, “Bright and sunny, grounded, pleasant.” It's often an eye-opener to me to hear such positivity from the guys…inspiring to say the least…

Richard then moved into stillness meditation, asking us, “Is it possible to sit still for 30 seconds?!” He guides us into taking our seats, instructing us to feel our feet on the floor and our bottoms on the chair. He brings a lightness and a sense of humor to our seeming need to move, to think. I noticed my own anxiety rise up as he told us not to move AT ALL. It's amazing what the instruction to sit still can do to one's mind!

It was a great teaching about holding our seats.

Jill then moved us toward the Drama Triangle…she explained some key concepts, such as rescuer, persecutor, and victim. She explains the victim role first, saying how people stuck in this pattern are powerless, very reactive, and feel helpless. “Its the ‘the system isn’t fair’ kind of mentality,” she relates this directly to the men by saying, “my attorney screwed me.”

She explains how two roles are being played out. She then moves to the persecutor role. She explains how this person is blaming, critical, “basically pointing the finger” She says, “You’re the problem. You’re the cause.” She says this creates a false sense of power before moving on to the rescuer. “This person,” she says, “is the one who needs to be needed.” She explains how they ‘help’ the victim by keeping the victim in the victim's spot and that they are often the ones coddling, protecting, etc.

She then begins to explain how the persecutor and the rescuer are on the top, gaining power because they keep the person in the victim role below them on the bottom. “But,” she says, “We are keeping ourselves down.” She asks the guys which of the roles they most identify with. (One of the guys, to my surprise, says, “Men seem to fit into the helper/rescuer role.) Jill brings them back and encourages them to see where they fall on the drama triangle. “Where do you most often sit?” she asks. One of the guys says there is a lot of power in the victim role. He says it may be a type of manipulative power, but that its power nonetheless. He expressed how the victim could take advantage, to take from the rescuer. “It’s a way to get what you need,” he says. Richard jumps in and explains our price: "It keeps us stuck,” he says. “We’re not getting what we need.” Jill jumps back in and explains that it’s debilitating on some level. One of the guys states that “the rescuer and persecutor go back and forth too.”

Jill then says how the rescuer seems like the easiest place to be. She says, “but it’s not, its actually taking advantage of the powerlessness of the person in the victim role.” One of the guys notes how we play all these roles throughout the day. Jill responds, “This is our Ferris wheel!” She says we first must identify that we’re in the drama triangle. One of the guys notes how all three roles are reactive. Jill uses that to propel her into the fact that we get ‘hooked’ and asks the guys what kinds of situations hook us.

Madrone, Jill, and Richard then moved on to a role-play, which was funny. The guys loved it and even received the Academy Award for their performances!

Jill then takes this opportunity to ask the guys about what roles they saw in the interaction, “who played what role?” she asks. She notes how superfluid it is and how quickly things can shift, “in less then 2 minutes!” she exclaims. One of the guys notes how we do “anything to win” after seeing the skit. Fleet then explains how we also do this process internally. Richard elaborates by saying how our internal world can also contradict how we project ourselves. “I can be in my own drama triangle without help,” Jill laughs.

She then moves into the Empowerment Triangle and shows us how to “flip it” (speaking of the Drama Triangle). She explains how this is a ‘mirror-like image’ of the drama triangle and how it's inverted. The persecutor becomes the challenger, the victim becomes the co-creator, and the rescuer becomes the coach. The co-creator asks, ‘What can I do? How can I change the situation? We pull ourselves out of this role. “It’s not passive,” Jill explains, “and it’s not reactive. It’s more empowered.” She goes on to explain how the role of ‘challenger.’ “They are reflective, asking ‘what’s going on?’ there is a sort of openness, a gentleness, mirror-like wisdom…” She says how it’s a different usage of language. She explains how these are “active, not reactive.” She says there is a sense of openness; no one is rescuing anyone, no one is blaming anyone, and no one is saying, “Woe is me” One of the guys seemed confused with the roles. Fleet explains how we can convert the energy and how we’re talking about shifting roles.

Jill then moves the guys into writing down a scenario where they found themselves on the drama triangle. Jill and Rebecca sifted through all the responses and chose one to share. It’s related to having to share a TV in the cell and how irritating it can sometimes be to deal with that dynamic. There was a bit of discussion around possible solutions. Jill asks them, “what could you say that would not put someone else on the defensive.” She encouraged them to use “I” statements. Richard brings it back to how we always have our practice with us, that this is a tool.

Rebecca then moves us into the ‘Tense and Relax’ exercise. She explains how when we clench something so tightly when we release it, we have a much deeper release. She has them tense their fists first, then their shoulders, then their stomach, then their face, then their shoulder blade. It was interesting for me because the clenching seemed so connected to anger.

We then did  statements of learning and appreciation, which were:

  1. “I learned that everyone gets this but me”

  2. “I learned that I don’t have to be the persecutor”

  3. “I leaned that it’s important to change perspective”

  4. “ I learned that its important to be open minded”

  5. “I learned that these states feed one another”

  6. “I learned how to not dwell in the victim”

  7. “I learned how not to be powerless”

  8. “I learned that I can do something”

  9. “I learned not to play into these roles”

  10. “I learned so much from this class”

Statements of Appreciation:

  1. “I appreciate all of this – everything you are offering us, these classes are actually applicable”

  2. “I appreciate being able to move on”

  3. “I appreciate being able to have something to aspire towards, that there are options to get off the drama triangle”

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