Earlier this week, I had another always-stimulating conversation with Christina Harbridge of Allegory Training.  She and her team have used the frameworks and tools of The Power of TED* in their organization and with their clients.

Christina shared an insightful observation: when people are first introduced to TED* – and especially the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™  ­– the insights they gain can actually feed their inner critic.

Not only has this been a phenomenon that I have witnessed, I experienced it myself when I was first introduced to the Karpman Drama Triangle. I remember the “oh boy, oh sh#t!” response I had when I saw the toxic interplay of the roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer and how often, how unconsciously and how dramatically I played all three roles throughout my life – and especially in the most important of relationships.

The inner critic LOVES that insight and feeds off it.  “You schmuck!  Look at how you have shown up in your relationships!  How COULD you?!”  What is really happening here is that we enter into an “intrapersonal” (i.e. within ourselves) DDT.  Our inner critic is the Persecutor and our self-esteem the Victim.  If we stay in the inner drama, we will look for someone or something to relieve the existential pain of our self-victimization.

Another way the inner critic gets fed is when, upon learning about the DDT, the Creator Orientation and the antidote roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach that make up TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic), we are not able to easily, automatically and consistent embody those roles.  Stuff happens and we find ourselves “going reactive” and falling back into the DDT pattern.

The inner critic speaks up and says (something like), “See, you can’t do that right either!  Even though you know better, you are back to your old ways!”

Here’s the thing: we can neither fight nor resist the inner critic.  To do so would be reactive and perpetuate the inner-DDT and the Victim Orientation.

The way to respond is to first become aware that the inner critic has been engaged, and then to “choose choice.”  Choose to shift from the Victim Orientation to a Creator Orientation by asking yourself “what do I want or how do I choose to respond in the situation?”

This is the same question to ask to make shift happen from the Victim to Creator roles.  If you find yourself acting as a Rescuer, the shift entails from “telling” to “asking” (which is what a Coach does).  The move from Persecutor to Challenger involves moving from “belittling or tearing down” to “building up” the other and evoking or provoking learning and growth.

The key to responding to the inner critic is to reclaim our capacity to choose our response.  When we “choose choice” we disempower the inner critic.  The measure of success and forward progress is – over time – getting to choice faster and more consciously.