In our last essay we wrote about The Origins of Drama. In it we described the common strategies all human beings develop to respond to stressful situations. We heard from many of you that it is helpful to understand common human behavior. A fellow colleague also said: “Oh, the curse of self-awareness. Sometimes it’s easier to not know why I do things and just go blindly through life.”

We love his phrase, “curse of self-awareness.” We often feel the same way because, once we become more aware, we can be very hard on ourselves for not doing better.

Naming and describing our drama strategies and roles (what we call the Dreaded Drama Triangle™ or DDT) can be a huge insight for many people. It allows them to become more aware of their reactive tendencies and choose to create new and more effective behaviors.

The opposite can also happen. Learning more about our self can cause added stress. It’s the price of being human and self-reflective. Think about it. Birds don’t self-reflect about being birds or how they fly. Fish don’t think about how they breathe and swim under water.

The benefit of being self-aware is that we can reflect on who we are and who we want to be. We can plan ahead, create options and evaluate ourselves.   Self-awareness can also conjure up a lot of self-criticism, ruminating on the past, what could have been, and worrying about the future.

Becoming more self-aware is a recent phenomenon in the evolution of consciousness in humankind. Medieval kings, priests and tribal chiefs governed with an iron hand and, if the people didn’t listen or questioned their orders, they weren’t alive very long. Responding to the innate desire to be independent and free, modern society and governing systems have evolved in many parts of the world.

But are we really free if we lock ourselves in the jail of self-criticism and reactive drama? Some people prefer not taking responsibility for their reactive behavior.

When David learned about the Karpman Drama Triangle many years ago and realized he had been living his life from the victim mentality, he asked: “I don’t want to live from a victim stance anymore, but what is the alternative?”

It was with that question that he began the journey of self-awareness that revealed an alternate triangle with resourceful and effective ways of living. That triangle is our original work called TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™ with its Creator, Challenger and Coach roles.   It’s not a pain-free journey but there’s a curse of self-awareness only if we lack the compassion that is required to be more aware of who we really are – and make the shift from the DDT to TED*.

The cure for self-criticism is self-compassion.