Last week, David had the opportunity to spend a morning with students of a private middle school in the Cleveland, Ohio area. He was invited by Chris Nagel who volunteers at the school and teaches principles from The Power of TED* to the junior high students.   In his professional work, Chris is Director of Serving Leader Strategy at Cleveland Clinic and includes TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™ in their “Serving Leader” series. With the students and his work at the Clinic, we marveled at Chris’ mastery of the TED* work.

The interaction with the 6th, 7th and 8th graders was invigorating for David. It was clear the students grasped the ever-present realities of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™. From the issue of bullying to popular movies (the 8th graders had a homework assignment to watch a movie and describe the DDT roles), they were able to observe and describe the roles they saw.

The students shared that:

  • They especially noticed the drama with friends, neighbors and family;
  • Once they learned about the drama-filled roles, they wanted to limit time with those friends and;
  • They often feel trapped because they don’t know how to “protect” their energies and not get pulled into the dramas.

Chris said, “You don’t have to attend every drama party you are invited to.” David loved that statement and knew it described the all-important skill of setting boundaries. In other words, when others try to pull you into the DDT – consciously or unconsciously – you can choose not to join.

We don’t have to attend every drama party we are invited to! We can consciously choose to limit our time with those who are “drama queens and kings.”

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be aware of how you are feeling. What happens to you when you are around others who love the drama? If you succumb to the drama, which DDT role are you likely to take on?  Be on the look-out for that role when it emerges.
  2. Be able to say “no,” when invited into the drama. “No” is the essential word when learning to set boundaries.
  3. Make your own self-care a priority. Learn to care about yourself enough that you stay away from drama situations because you know, from past experiences, you do not thrive in them.

Again, you do not have to “attend” every drama you are invited into. As the students shared, drama parties are everywhere and you can choose not to “play.” By modeling boundaries you may also give permission to others not to participate. Who knows, the drama party may fizzle-out due to lack of attendees.

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