When human beings interpret a situation as bad, we often get pulled into the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ roles of Victim, Persecutor or Rescuer. These roles are strategies to defend and protect ourselves in response to the situation we interpreted as threatening.
Through developing the TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™ work and the more resourceful roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach, we have observed that most people default to one primary DDT role. Our human system is similar to a computer—we operate on “default” systems and do not change without mindful intentions to reset our default orientation.
What DDT role do you default to when under pressure?
Both of us tend to default to the rescuing role, which can be pretty funny when we both experience pressure at the same time. If others were watching us, they would see each of us being overly helpful and rescuing each other from the situation. It would be humorous if it wasn’t so distressing because sometimes one or the other gets annoyed at being rescued and starts reacting to the other as Persecutor. So, of course, when that happens we both end up feeling like Victims.
As you read the summaries of the three DDT roles, reflect upon the last time you felt pressure and reacted unskillfully. What was your default drama role?
Were you a Victim who felt powerless in the face of the pressure or stress? Did you back away, feeling safe by avoiding responsibility or blame the circumstances or others? A Victim’s primary strategy is to convince themself that they won’t get what they want, so they disengage and don’t even try.
Were you a Persecutor who decided you had to fight back and attempt to control what was happening? The Persecutor determines that to survive they must control the situation and resist or push against what is occurring. Controlling the situation in order to survive the chaos and threat is their primary strategy.
Were you a Rescuer who stepped in to be overly helpful and attempted to relieve the stress or pressure by offering suggestions or doing more than was yours to do? Rescuers believe their role in life is to help others, rather than pay attention to their own well-being. Their strategy is to manage the stress by rushing in and “fixing” it.
Ultimately none of these roles are effective, and will add to the drama. By becoming more aware of your default role, you can notice your response and learn to shift out of the DDT roles into the more effective TED* roles.