There is a story about a man who calls a good friend to talk about his problems. After talking at length about his complaints, he stops and asks his friend, “Are you still listening to me? You haven’t said a word.” His friend says, “I’m trying not to. If you keep going, I might start believing what you’re saying.”
The man knew the importance of not reinforcing his friend’s negative thoughts. He knew that destructive thoughts played over and over again can be like cutting grooves in an old vinyl record.
Both of us remember when we were younger that the best way to listen to music was on a record player with vinyl records. (In fact, we have boxes of classic vinyl records in our garage!) We remember being fascinated that a favorite song could be duplicated by simply cutting grooves into a piece of round, black plastic.
Your human brain is like these vinyl records in the way they record your thoughts. The grooves deepen each time you think and act on a reactive habit, which increases the likelihood that you will repeat them again and again.
Some psychological studies show that you may have as many as 60,000 thoughts each day. Thank goodness you don’t have to believe all your harsh thoughts, or the grooves will become deeper and deeper!
We hear from people that when they learn about the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), it helps explain some of their puzzling personal and work relationships with other people and recuring life experiences. What is sometimes overlooked is the “Inner DDT” and the drama-filled relationship we have within ourselves.
Once you begin to listen to the song you keep singing to yourself you may be astonished to hear the same DDT characters of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer inside of your mind. Here’s an example: A friend calls and you agree to meet her at the gym. You might say to yourself:
- “I don’t really want to go to the gym, but I want to please my friend. I know she’s had a hard time lately.” (That’s the desire to please—the Rescuer—in you.)
- “You know you should go to the gym too. You have been so lazy!” (It’s your inner critic—the Persecutor—speaking.)
- “I don’t know why I even belong to the gym. I can’t afford it. I won’t ever get out of debt, especially in this job.” (Guess which one this is? Victim it is!)
How do you stop this negative self-chatter before it creates a “groove” in your brain? Criticizing yourself doesn’t help. Self-criticism creates a negative double-loop and makes the persecuting thoughts even deeper!
One tip we have found helpful is to lighten up and use humor when we hear these internal drama-filled voices. It might sound like this: “Hello drama character. I hear you. It is time for you to take a rest for a while. I have things to do and places to go.”
I (Donna) visualize the DDT character inside a gift-wrapped box and set the package on a “mental shelf” for the time being. It is amazing how that drama-filled voice quiets down once I acknowledge it and playfully set it aside.
It is your Creator-self, the foundational role in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)® that challenges the inner DDT voices to go silent, at least for the time being.
By summoning your Creator voice to come forward, you will notice your TED* roles more naturally emerge. This taps into the positive, true essence of who you really are. By doing so, you are laying down positive grooves for a new record that sings “to the Creator in you!”