Getting off the Triangle

The Drama Triangle – Getting Off

In order to get off the Triangle, we must first decide to take responsibility for ourselves. We then begin to allow ourselves to acknowledge and express our true feelings, even when doing so is uncomfortable. As we explore our core beliefs and starting gate positions, we become better able to recognize when someone is attempting to hook us, and refuse to allow it.

Learning how to sit with guilty feelings without acting on them is a big part of resisting the Victim game. Feeling guilt does not necessarily imply that we are out of integrity with ourselves. Guilt is a learned response. Sometimes guilt indicates that we’ve broken a dysfunctional family rule. Growth prohibitive beliefs about ourselves and the world, instilled early on, become rigid rules that need to be violated. Family dictums such as; “Don’t talk about it”, “Don’t share feelings”, or “It’s selfish to take care of yourself”, must be overcome if we are to grow. We can expect, and even celebrate the guilt when we defy these deeply entrenched unwritten laws.


Getting honest with ourselves and others is a primary way to get off the triangle. Telling our truth is a key way of taking responsibility. We then must be willing to take necessary action for whatever that truth reveals.

In order for a Rescuer to get honest, for instance, they have to confess their investment in keeping others dependent. This means acknowledging that being a rescuer fills their need for self-worth. In this way, Rescuers learn to recognize and address their own needs.

It can feel very threatening for someone stuck in Persecutor consciousness to get bare-bones honest with themselves. To them, to do so feels like blaming themselves, which only intensifies their internal condemnation. Persecutors need to have a situation or person they can blame so they can stay angry. Anger energizes them by acting like fuel in the psyche that keeps them going. It may be the only way they have of dealing with chronic depression. Persecutors need a jolt of rage the same way some people need a shot of caffeine. It jump-starts their day.

Just as with the other roles, self-accountability is the only way off the victim grid for the Persecutor. There has to be some kind of breakthrough for them to get willing to own their part. Unfortunately, because of their great reluctance to do so, it may have to come in the form of a crisis.

Ironically, the doorway off the triangle for all players is through the persecutor position. This is because when we decide to get off the triangle, we are often seen as persecutors by those still on it. Once we decide to take self-responsibility and tell our truth, those still aboard are likely to accuse us of victimizing them.”How dare you refuse to take care of me!”, a Victim might cry. Or”What do you mean you don’t need my help?”, says a primary enabler when a victim decides to become accountable. In other words, to escape the victim grid, we must be willing to be perceived as the”bad guy”. This doesn’t make it so, but we must be willing to sit with the discomfort of being perceived as such.

When you are ready to be accountable, you begin by sorting through your real motives and feelings regarding your present situation. You become willing to experience your own uncomfortable feelings and to allow others theirs without rescue. If your loved ones and associates are also willing to participate in this process of self-realization, it speeds the halt of triangular interaction. If you’re ready to get off, but they aren’t, then you may have to draw some hard-fast boundaries, or even walk away. Again, this puts you at risk of being perceived as a persecutor.

Since starting-gate Victims are the identified problem in their family, it’s natural for them to seek outside professional help. Often, however they are unconsciously looking for another Rescuer(which abound among helping professionals, by the way). Those in primary Victim roles must challenge the ingrained belief that they can’t do for themselves. If they are to get off the triangle, they have to initiate self-care, rather than look outside themselves for a savior. Instead of seeing themselves as totally powerless, they must begin to acknowledge their problem solving as well as their leadership capabilities.

In conclusion, we must first become conscious of how it is we play out the Drama Triangle. For where ever there is dysfunction, the Drama Triangle is found. Making ourselves aware of our starting-gate positions is the first step to moving out of destructive patterns. As we begin the process of liberating ourselves from our stuck-ness through self-responsibility and truth telling, we transform our lives. In other words, we actualize our Higher Selves, thus realizing the blueprint of possibility that lies dormant within each of us.

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