After the first day of our 3 Vital Questions®/Power of TED*® two-day workshop, we ask participants to go home or back to their hotel room and “stay tuned” to their experience that evening.   We encourage them to simply notice how the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ and its roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer show up in life.

We begin the second day with a “check in” process and invite participants to share what they noticed. The check-in stories we hear and the insights that participants share are often quite funny, sometimes very touching, and usually useful learning for everyone.

In a recent workshop, one participant checked in the second day with an amusing teaching point that has stuck with us.   She shared that the night before, after she and her spouse had put their young children to bed, they began watching TV.  She had just sat down on the couch to relax from a powerful day, when her husband made a comment.   He mumbled something about the TV program they were watching that in the past would have triggered her to react and engage in the DDT.

Instead of reacting, she paused, took a breath and said in one word: “Pass.”  Stunned and somewhat stumped, her husband responded, “What do you mean, ‘pass’?”

“It would be easy for me to be triggered by your comment, so I am going to pass on reacting to it.”

She then shared with him some of what she had learned in the first day of the workshop about the DDT and her reactive triggers (which we have written about previously in “TED* Works!®”).

The question of “pass or play?” comes from the long-running TV game show, “Family Feud.”  (A very thought-provoking name, considering the possibility of family drama.)

As the second day of training unfolded, her story and the new mantra, “pass or play” became a phrase that her fellow participants used to remind themselves they are at choice about how they respond to life’s challenges.  Adding to the drama when it arises is one choice, so one can decide to “play,” with the probable consequence of escalating the situation.

Each person has triggers that, if you are not conscious of them, can automatically pull you into the DDT and an instance of family or work drama can erupt.  In the participant’s case, she chose to “pass” and not allow her old triggers to draw her into the DDT.  Instead of adding to the drama that night, she used the “pass” mantra to help her relax and not “play.”

Unfortunately, we often do not have the awareness to pause and ask ourselves the question, as this participant did.  Instead, the human tendency is to ‘play’ without thinking about it—-just react when drama situations arise.

It can be very easy to habitually play into the DDT with those closest to us, especially when the reactive patterns have been in place for a long time.  This can also happen at work when you find yourself working with others who may have different ways of doing things or disagree with your point-of-view.

As both spouses and business partners we spend a lot of time together and find ourselves “playing” into reacting to one another when triggered by something that is said, done, or not done.

We have found that the light-hearted “pass or play” mantra is an excellent way to remind us that we have a choice.  Now we simply ask ourselves:  “Do we want to add to the drama, and “play” or relax and “pass.”  With this new mantra, we are choosing more often to simply pass.