Wake up and Thrive

094:Cultivating Resonance by Escaping the Drama Triangle

May 20, 2024 Bridget Covill
094:Cultivating Resonance by Escaping the Drama Triangle
Wake up and Thrive
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Wake up and Thrive
094:Cultivating Resonance by Escaping the Drama Triangle
May 20, 2024
Bridget Covill

Send us a Text Message.

In today's episode, I introduce Karpman's Drama Triangle, and together we will unravel the roles of Hero, Villain, and Victim that stealthily govern our interactions, often far below the threshold of our awareness. As we dissect these archetypal characters, you'll discover not only the hidden motives propelling your own life's drama but receive the keys to unlock a more awakened, attuned existence.

Shed the shackles of the triangle's corners as we learn how to step out of the drama triangle, and into more empowering roles.  This episode isn't just about recognizing detrimental patterns—it's about cultivating robust, self-reflective relationships that serve as the bedrock for a life filled with passion, purpose, and genuine connection. Join me and let's journey together toward a life that's not just reactive, but truly reflective and resonant.

If you are ready to step out of your habituated pattern and into a more empowering role inside your relationships, then I want to invite you to this month's virtual breathwork class. It is taking place next Tuesday, May 28th @ 7:30pm EST from the comfort of your own home. We will use the RESET breath pattern to release any old stories or stagnant emotions so that you can fully step into this powerful new beginning and new role inside of your relationships. Register here. 

Let's Connect.

FREE masterclass: 3 Skills necessary to create intimacy in your marriage. Watch it here.
Free guide: 5 ways to find Calm: Get the guide here
Come find me on Instagram: @findherwildcoaching
Check out my website and my offerings here



Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

In today's episode, I introduce Karpman's Drama Triangle, and together we will unravel the roles of Hero, Villain, and Victim that stealthily govern our interactions, often far below the threshold of our awareness. As we dissect these archetypal characters, you'll discover not only the hidden motives propelling your own life's drama but receive the keys to unlock a more awakened, attuned existence.

Shed the shackles of the triangle's corners as we learn how to step out of the drama triangle, and into more empowering roles.  This episode isn't just about recognizing detrimental patterns—it's about cultivating robust, self-reflective relationships that serve as the bedrock for a life filled with passion, purpose, and genuine connection. Join me and let's journey together toward a life that's not just reactive, but truly reflective and resonant.

If you are ready to step out of your habituated pattern and into a more empowering role inside your relationships, then I want to invite you to this month's virtual breathwork class. It is taking place next Tuesday, May 28th @ 7:30pm EST from the comfort of your own home. We will use the RESET breath pattern to release any old stories or stagnant emotions so that you can fully step into this powerful new beginning and new role inside of your relationships. Register here. 

Let's Connect.

FREE masterclass: 3 Skills necessary to create intimacy in your marriage. Watch it here.
Free guide: 5 ways to find Calm: Get the guide here
Come find me on Instagram: @findherwildcoaching
Check out my website and my offerings here



Speaker 1:

Hi, my name is Bridget and this is my podcast, wake Up and Thrive. My intention for this space is to help women around the world live more awake, aligned and truly alive. I believe wholeheartedly that we are designed to live, feel and experience the full range that life has to offer, and in doing so, we can live fully turned on in all areas. My story began with sobriety and has since been an initiation into rediscovering parts of myself that I forgot about or had abandoned. Learning to reclaim all of who I am has been the greatest gift of living awake, and together we will go on a journey of helping you to do the same. You can expect to learn practical tools to help you connect deeper to yourself, your purpose and those in your life. All you need is an open heart and an open mind. So if you're ready, it's time. It's time to wake up and thrive. Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another episode on Wake Up and Thrive.

Speaker 1:

Today we are going to dive into a concept that I learned when I was getting my I say master's because that's what it felt like. It was like a very intense coaching program that I went through and I was first introduced to this concept and I want to dive into it today because I think it's a concept that we all play a role in within our relationships, but maybe don't have the language or the awareness around it. So it's called Cartman's Drama Triangle, if you aren't familiar. It was developed in 1968 by a psychologist, stephen Cartman, and it beautifully illustrates some of the dysfunctional roles that we can subconsciously take on in order to avoid conflict and to get our needs met. Okay, and something to just note before we dive in as I'm listing these three different roles that you can often, again, subconsciously play within your relationships, I want you to first know that you will probably, at some point in your life, touch on all three of these. We all do, we all can kind of vacillate between all of them, and now that I understand them, it makes sense to me how we can go from one role to the other very seamlessly and very unconsciously right. So you will touch on these all three of them, sometimes within one single relationship or within different relationships. You might find yourself in one role in the relationship with your mom, but then in your marriage, you find yourself in a different role, so just keep that in mind. However, there will be one that will really resonate with you, and it is oftentimes the same role that you took on as a child. So just keep that in mind and pay attention to what sort of lights up in your body as I'm describing these different roles Okay. So of lights up in your body as I'm describing these different roles, okay.

Speaker 1:

So that's the first part that you can really fall in and under each one of these categories. The second part is to understand that every single category has a positive intention. It has a payoff for you and almost always the payoff is the same. It ends up we end up getting love, safety and belonging, because that's really what all of us all of us, no matter who you are, no matter what role you primarily live in within your relationships we all want the same thing. We want to know that we're loved, we want to know that we're seen and understood, we want to belong right and we want to feel safe. We just go about it in some unconscious, somewhat destructive behaviors.

Speaker 1:

So, before we dive into the three different roles, how do you even know that you're in a drama triangle or you're wrapped up? The first question really is are you actually getting your needs met or do you find yourself on this merry-go-round right, like you're continually experiencing the same patterns over and, over and over again, with your partner, with your friends, with your in-laws, with your family, with your kids. If you experience the same repetitive behavior and it is fueled by fear, blame, wanting to exert your opinion and your needs over the other person's, wanting to be right, wanting to win, then you are most likely stuck in the drama triangle. To win, then you are most likely stuck in the drama triangle. Okay, so let's dive in and remember. So, if you are in a place where you can take notes, take out a piece of paper and just draw a big triangle. And it doesn't really matter where you put each roll on the triangle because, remember, it's very fluid. You can sort of move amongst all three rolls, sometimes within one single dynamic, amongst all three roles, sometimes within one single dynamic, but in one again, no particular order.

Speaker 1:

The first aspect of the triangle is the hero, or the fixer, or the rescuer. This person seeks value by being needed. This is the first person that comes to the rescue when there's somebody that's saying help me or I can't figure this out. They love that. They thrive off that. They get off of that. They can appear very meddling, offering unsolicited advice, trying to be the fixer. They also can appear to be self-sacrificing and very selfless. Okay, but again, remember there's always a payoff. We're always after getting our own needs met. That's typically what's drawing our behavior. So it's just something to note if you fall in line with the rescuer and the fixer, because it can be hard to shift out of if you're like no, no, no, no, no, I'm in that role because I love to help people. Yes, you love to help people, but at what cost? At what cost Are you actually helping them in the way that they need to be helped? And sometimes that requires no advice, that requires space, that requires letting them fail, letting them flounder right. So really just asking yourself am I helping them in this way because it's truly what it is they need, or is it because it does something for me, it fills something up for me? So that's the first aspect.

Speaker 1:

The second aspect is the villain. We've all been the villain or dubbed the villain in certain relationships, and this one, most notably, is characterized by a lot of blame, a lot of anger, a lot of judgment. If you ever have those people in your life where, literally, you cannot have a conversation about them. The conversation solely revolves around other people, right? Or another example I've heard like if you send somebody a podcast or you send somebody a book, and literally the entire time they're listening to it, they just think of someone else. They're not taking in any advice or lessons or feedback for themselves. They are most likely stuck in this villain role. I've also heard it called the persecutor, whichever one you identify more with. But again, the need that they're really seeking is they're seeking to control, because they oftentimes feel out of control inside, but they aren't in touch or tapped in or comfortable being vulnerable. So it's more comfortable for them to really be this villain. It is subconsciously a desire of theirs to be the one. Nobody wants to be the villain, nobody wants to be the bad guy, but they feel powerful in this role. When we could really tear down or peel back the layers, take off the mask, you would actually see a really sensitive, vulnerable heart behind the villain. So that part's just something to keep in mind.

Speaker 1:

And then the third role is the victim. And this is the role you guys. I will be totally transparent. This is the one I identify with the most. It is literally my biggest self-saboteur and I'm just going to tell you full on she is so freaking loud during this season in my life. I mean so freaking loud, and what the victim says is life is happening to me, poor me, nobody picks me, everybody hates me. Everything that's going wrong is personal. It's about me, right? And to be honest, I think the victim sounds the worst out of all three of them and yet it again also has a positive payoff which we're going to talk about. But I want to, just I want to be transparent, if you're listening, and be the first one to put my hand up to say this is the one that I identify with and it is so.

Speaker 1:

All of these are hard to break. The victim mentality is so hard to break and it is one that I think, again, we all touch on in certain aspects, but for me, it is where I tend to fall and I have to remind myself again, I have access to vulnerability. So, if you think about it, the villain doesn't have access to vulnerability, so the villain seeks control and judgment and blame and power. The victim doesn't have access to vulnerability, so that person you know me seeks, withdraw, shut down lots of emotions, staying in the sadness, right Again, trying to get my needs met without actually trying asking for what it is that I need. And I'm saying I because, again, I do identify with this role. So, yeah, the victim can be very helpless and can feel very needy.

Speaker 1:

And again, man, if you fall in line with the victim role, I can promise you you have somebody in your life right now that is dubbed the villain, and then you have someone, or maybe multiple people, that love to be your rescuer and your persecutor, and it works really well. This was actually a very toxic dynamic my husband and I had for a really long time. He was the fixer and he wanted and most men are, he wanted to come in and rescue. And I have to be really careful when I'm in a very sad or victim state consciousness and I have to own it I really have to take responsibility for it first before seeking outside guidance, otherwise I stay within that triangle. And so just to quickly illustrate how you can kind of morph between all three of them the villain or the hero can easily become like the villain. If nobody's actually listening to what they're or no one's actually giving them the power that they're so desperately seeking, they can immediately turn into the victim, or they can go into okay, this isn't working. Let me go into helper, fixer mode, and then you look at the rescuer and the helper and the fixer, or the hero I think I called it the hero, but it is sort of they want to be the hero.

Speaker 1:

This one can completely be burned out. You can give and give and give and give and give Again, appearing self-sacrificing, appearing selfless, but the truth is you're trying to get your needs met and so, let's say, the victim is not even showing any gratitude or thanks or actually telling you that they don't want your help. You can also slide into the victim role very easily and then, on the flip side, I've seen the victim as I'm. You know me personally as you try to shift out of the victim consciousness, you can almost go the villainous route of like. Instead of being within connection with people and allowing all experiences to exist, you can really exert like, swing the pendulum to the other side, whereas in the victim role you really don't vocalize, you don't exert any what is the word? Any sense of power, and then you can go, swing all the way over to the other side, where you're the villain now, and now it's always your way, or the highway, so just to pay attention to when you're trying to shift out of each dynamic. Okay, so let's talk about the payoffs, and then I will give you guys each an alternative role that you can take on. If you are finding yourself within this drama triangle, if you clearly identify with one role, or maybe you're like oh, I like literally go between all three of them, I want to give you an alternate role to take on. But first of all, let's talk about the payoff.

Speaker 1:

We kind of mentioned all of these, but the victim gets attention and doesn't have to take responsibility for her role. Right? I know this to be true. For me, this was a pattern that I created from a really young age, being a part of a big family. To me, it wasn't like when I got louder and exerted my opinion, it wasn't imprinted in my body that that's how I get my needs met. What was imprinted for me was, hey, when I actually disappear, when I'm quiet, when I'm withdrawn, that's when I get people to come up and ask me what's wrong and I don't actually have to take responsibility for my role in any of it. It was a beautiful pattern that I've created and it's one I'm still trying to break and I really highly recommend, if you identify with the victim role or any other role, name her, name her, so that when she shows up for me I call her Bridgie, because I know it was a pattern that was developed as I was a kid, but it's also the name that most people would say when they would come up and kind of rescue me.

Speaker 1:

It was like Bridgie, what's wrong, bridgie, what's wrong. So when I noticed Bridgie coming up and it just doesn't feel empowering to me, it doesn't feel like my empowering woman, right, my powerful woman. It feels like my little victim-y, poor as me, tantrum-y little girl. So I call her Bridgie when she shows up and I'm just like Bridgie, I see you, I see you and you are not a victim. You are not a victim. You get to create whatever it is that you desire. What do you want? Tell me, I'm here, I'm listening, okay, the payoff for the victim.

Speaker 1:

The victim can feel like a if you've never been I'm sorry, not victim, villain, the villain or persecutor. If you've never been deemed the villain or the persecutor. If you have kids, I know you identify with this role because you're probably called the villain. I know I am, but it can feel powerful, you can feel in charge and oftentimes you actually get what it is that you want, because the victim and the rescuer are just like, oh my God, just give her what she wants, it's not worth it. But again, you don't actually have to ask for it, so you don't actually have to say so.

Speaker 1:

An example might be for the villain. Let's say, and I don't have this example with my mom, so, mom, if you're listening, this is not about you, but let's just say you have a mom or a mother-in-law that calls and invites you over for dinner and you're like, oh, you know, I can't, this is our family dinner, or I can't. I'm going out with my girlfriends and just very passive and she's just like, well, that's a shame, like we, you know, I don't see you a lot and it's really important that we do this family dinner and just guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, right, and what that can oftentimes cause, instead of her going. Oh, that really stings, I'm really missing time with you. Can we make more time? Or, oh, I'm actually feeling really lonely in my life and could really desire connection. Can you guys make an exception this weekend? Instead of touching on that, the villain just pulls out the guilt game and control and judgment and blame until you ultimately do what it is that they want. Okay, but again, peeling back the layers, it's coming from a really tender place.

Speaker 1:

And then finally, the rescuer, the hero, the fixer, and this one is probably the easiest role to admit. I oftentimes think admitting that I'm the victim role is kind of embarrassing because there's nothing really powerful about being in the victim consciousness. But the rescuer, again, from the outside appears like she has it all together and she's always making time for other people. And this is where the term people-pleasing comes in right. This is oftentimes you will fall in line with this role if you are a people-pleaser. But I'm telling you and I'm saying this with love, it is not a selfless role. It's in fact a very incredibly manipulative and selfish role because you're ultimately trying to manipulate, you being the source of someone else's power. So you meeting someone else's needs, not out of genuine love for that person, although you try to convince yourself, or maybe on the conscious level, you tell yourself it is Subconsciously underneath, it's selfish. It's all because that's how you get your fill, that's how you get your needs met by helping and fixing other people's problems. So just be aware of that. Okay, all right.

Speaker 1:

So now let's move into. How do you move out of each role? Okay, so let's first start I'm going to actually start this time with the victim. Okay, the victim. We want to help the victim, or you can help yourself transform from the victim the poor me. Life is happening to me. This is what I don't want. The victim is so focused on what's not working, what they don't want. We want to transform them or help them step into the role of the creator. What is it that you do want? So, when you even notice somebody playing the victim a lot, that's a very simple way to help shift them out of it. I hear you. I hear this isn't working in your business. I hear this wasn't working in your life relationship, whatever it is. I totally get that and let's not give that any more airtime. Let's talk about what it is that you want and desire and what do you want to create? Okay, so that's a really powerful way to shift from victim, or shift out of victim consciousness, become the creator.

Speaker 1:

Now let's go to the persecutor or the rescuer, the hero you now get to become, and take on the role of the coach. So let's just talk about the dynamics between the hero and the victim, because this is oftentimes where you'll see those dynamics play out. You know the victim needs a rescuer and the'll see those dynamics play out. The victim needs a rescuer and the rescuer needs a victim in order to hold the role, which is why it's so important to note it takes one person to say I'm no longer going to be a victim, and then the hero doesn't have a role to play anymore. They might go, try to find another victim.

Speaker 1:

But oftentimes, even within that relationship, you can shift the dynamic simply by refusing to play your own role. Instead of trying to change the other person, figure out your role and try to shift out of it. So the I'm sorry, guys, I'm getting all my words mixed up the rescuer can now become the coach. So when you're looking at the victim, you get to ask them hey, I hear you, I hear you focusing on this area, but let's focus on what we can create here within this relationship. What can you do differently? How can you show up more powerfully? I believe in you, right? So instead of giving them the fish, teach them how to fish. That's what I do as a coach. Like I don't give you the answers. I teach you to find your answers. So, if you fall in line with the fixer and the hero, start really strengthening this coach role, notice when the desire to fix comes up and take a deep breath, hand on heart, hand on belly right, and just shift into more of a coach, an empowering coach role.

Speaker 1:

And then the villain. So this one's really important. So the villain gets to become the challenger, and I love this role because it still allows the villain to be in that powerful state, right, which is what they crave. It's where they feel the most comfortable. But it allows I mean, the other way to think of it is just giving tough love instead of shaming or judging or punishing people. The villain loves to punish the challenger. Yeah, tough love, right, brutal honesty, but calling people forward, whereas the villain is just calling people out, okay. So that's really that's how you shift out of it. So the victim becomes the creator, the rescuer can become the coach and the villain can become the challenger. And remember that each one of these roles has a positive intention to get a beautiful need met. So it's not wrong, it's not bad. But if it's not actually serving you, you find yourself in this toxic dance right, these repetitive behaviors that are really just aggravating and toxic is the best word to describe it.

Speaker 1:

Then you get to first of all, identify your own role. Stop looking at the other people in the triangle. It's interesting, now that you've heard all three, where you can go. Oh yeah, my mom is the rescuer that's definitely what it is, but I don't really care what role she is. What's the role you play? And once you have identified your role, ask yourself honestly is this, first of all, who I want to be? Because oftentimes, when I first heard the drama triangle like, I would have never identified as the victim, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever. Right, in fact, I would always say I.

Speaker 1:

Usually, when we are so ingrained in these roles, we can't see it. It's almost like when you take your finger, you put it on your nose, right, and I'm like can you see your fingernail? Everybody do it right now. Take your finger, put it on your nose. Can you see your fingernail? No, you can't, because you're too close to it. You're too close to it. So I'm hoping, by after listening to this episode, that you can sort of zoom out a little bit. See with clear eyes and a compassionate heart. Oh, this is the role I'm playing. This makes sense.

Speaker 1:

Now, feel empowered to move out of it, because it just takes one person to move out of this triangle. Okay, and I would love, love, love, absolutely love to hear what insights came from this episode. So come and find me on Instagram. You can email me. You can also just leave a review and say wow after listening to this episode. And if you don't know how to leave a review on Apple Podcasts, scroll all the way to the bottom. There's a place there to leave a review. I think the same for Spotify, but please leave a review, please rate it.

Speaker 1:

It really helps me know if this content is helpful to you guys so that I can do more of this. I have so many more tools and frameworks and paradigms that I have been introduced to that have been incredibly helpful for me in creating the relationships I want, but I don't want to just put things out there that I think is important. I want to put things out there that are going to really help you. So please let me know that. Tag me on social media. If you're like whoa, this was like eye-opening. Send it to somebody that you might be in the triangle with, but send it to them with ownership for your role first. That's going to be my. I'm going to put my coach hat on for a minute and say I'd love for you to share this episode, but please share it by first owning your role. I promise you that'll go a lot, a lot further. And if you enjoyed this episode and got something out of it, come back next Monday because I'll have a fresh new episode all ready for you. See you guys next week.

Understanding Cartman's Drama Triangle
Navigating Relationship Dynamics