Drama Triangle: The Movie

You’re the Star

film by Gerd Altmann — Pixabay

At the beginning, you are living in your essence, feeling alive.

You’re going along living happily in the present moment, enjoying your life.

And then — Boom! Shit happens, life happens.

A pandemic happens.

There’s a disconnect between your expectations and the current situation. Someone does something that you don’t agree with. You aren’t allowed to do what you want to do anymore. Circumstances have changed and you react.

Your perspective usually determines how you’ll engage.

Generally, there’s a pattern.

  • First, you might feel shame for your part in the problem. Shame is a painful feeling so you search for someone else to put the shame on.
  • Blame follows. You quickly try to find someone or something else to take the heat.

If you tend to judge, shame and blame are an automatic reaction.

  • Next there’s a Story to tell. You come up with reasons for your behavior or the behavior of others. The story helps you justify your actions by blaming others. You write a script.

At this point, you’re the director of a play that you’ve written. You’re about to put on a performance that justifies your feelings and your actions.

Emotions are powerful.

As the rupture happens and you move away from being in the present moment, the emotional reaction gets larger.

People tend to want to stop the emotions because they’re uncomfortable.

They come to a conclusion and create a story about the shit that happened.

Then they choose their favorite groove in their neural pathways — shame or blame. Their energy moves in the appropriate direction.

  • Shame is internal: you direct the negative energy inward.
  • Blame is external: the negative energy goes outward.

Time for the Casting Call.

At this point, you will often send a call out to your friends and acquaintances. You ask for support. You look for enrollment; people that agree or align with your beliefs.

Players join in your story, creating an echo chamber.

Congratulations, you’re now on the stage of the Drama Triangle. Ta da!

On the Drama Triangle, roles are assigned based on how the players show up.




These three roles form the core of the drama triangle.

The Victim is the person who has been wronged. The one who has the most to lose. They are often the loudest person in the room, but not always. There is a lot of adrenaline attached to being the Victim.

The Villain is the bad guy; the one who has wronged the Victim. Sometimes the Villain isn’t aware that they’ve been assigned the role. The triangle can operate without their knowledge. The Villain and the Hero play out their roles in the story without involving the Villain. The Villain can be a person, the weather, a government or a system. It doesn’t always have to be a person.

The Hero is traditionally the good guy. They’re the one that comes to rescue the Victim. Sometimes the Hero is doing it for the attention. Sometimes they create a circumstance where they can be the Hero.

Notice this: one person can play two roles at once. They can also shift back and forth between roles.

  • Ego, drama and adrenaline, attention, all live in the drama triangle as well. It’s a fun place — there’s lots going on.

The whole job of the players and roles are the validation of the story.

High, high excitement exists in the drama triangle. Many people live for this energy. When their lives are boring, they create drama so they can play.

Now the tricky part.

No matter what your role is, you can choose to stay on the stage and play out your role, or you can leave.

It’s possible to do the inner work required to change. Curiosity and observation are the keys.

Observing your own behavior is a good place to start. Be curious and ask yourself questions but don’t judge.

Judgement leads to shame and blame and that just pulls you back onto the triangle. Give yourself a break. You’re learning.

It takes patience and you have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to admit that you could be wrong. You have to step off the triangle and out of your role.

It’s possible to change if you choose it.

Choice is your superpower.

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