Who's getting caught up in COVID-19 inspired drama? Whenever we have a good rant, project catastrophising stories about what might happen or get sucked into a blame vortex, it’s likely we’re stuck in an unhelpful drama of our own scripting.
In times of crisis – or even mild irritation - the vast majority of us follow this well-worn path below the line. It’s totally normal. But it’s also limiting. When we’re in the drama triangle, we contract as humans and impair our ability to learn, connect and generally feel good. It keeps us small.
Understanding the drama triangle
First conceived by Stephen Karpman in the late 1960s as a tool for psychotherapy, the drama triangle explains what happens when we’re in conflict with others and ourselves.
In all dramas, there are three roles – victim, hero and villain. The victim is the person feeling helpless, hopeless, ashamed, oppressed, hurt etc. They are at the effect of their personal circumstances. Life is happening to them. It could be the weather, your boss, the kids, the traffic, a pandemic or any other occurrence in life that bothers you. In that mode you feel powerless.
The villain is the person who is blamed for the victim’s plight. We might blame another person, a group of people, or ourselves.
The final character in this tale is the hero who sweeps into the drama, offering temporary relief with platitudes or band aids that avoid and therefore don’t solve the underlying issue. That old analogy of teaching someone how to fish instead of feeding them fish applies here.
We can also hero ourselves by eating or drinking mindlessly, or getting lost on social media as a way to reward a tough day. When we do, we’re avoiding getting present to what was hard about today.
All roles are a form of victim consciousness and we often rotate through the roles. The trick is noticing when they arise and choosing to shift.
Here’s one of my recent triangles that you might find familiar:
“I can’t believe we can only meet in groups of 2, how am I going to get through this? [tears, tears and more tears] Those bloody Bondi backpackers. I need some wine. And some more carrot cake. And then I’m going to numb out on Netflix.”
Choosing to shift
The Conscious Leadership Group offers three alternative roles that we can shift to by being present to the drama we’re currently making. In presence, the victim becomes the creator who takes 100% responsibility for everything in their lives and stops complaining. The villain becomes the challenger who brings healthy pressure to the creator to support them without blame and criticism. And the hero becomes the coach and stops trying to fix people and situations, instead supporting everyone to get above the line.
Now let’s be clear, I’m still drifting to and from these various forms of victim consciousness ALL THE TIME. But I’m working at feeling the emotions as they rise so they can pass through me. From there, I take full responsibility for how I’m responding and let go of blaming others so I can coach myself to own my stuff. When I do, I meditate more, exercise more and eat / drink less…well at least I do the latter more mindfully.