How to create healthy relationships

We all want healthy relationships, don’t we? Over the last few weeks, we have covered the roles of the Drama Triangle, devised by Stephen Karpman, MD. We have looked at the Rescuer, the Victim and the Persecutor. In my research of the Drama Triangle, I came across some alternatives which I want to share with you. Here’s how to create healthy relationships instead of being trapped in toxic ones.

The Winning Triangle

Acey Choy developed the Winning Triangle model in 1990. It focuses on alternative behaviours to counteract those of the Drama Triangle. So being vulnerable and outcome-oriented instead of the Victim, caring instead of being the Rescuer, and assertive instead of playing the Persecutor. This self-awareness allows us to see patterns, take responsibility and be more congruent with our values.

The Empowerment Dynamic (TED*)

This model was designed by David Emerald. It connects to our dreams and desires and comes after you realise you have been playing one of the Drama Triangle roles. There is an awakening of sorts and a conscious desire to move away from all that drama; with this awareness comes more options and opportunities. In the TED* model, there are also three roles – the Creator, the Challenger and the Coach.

Creator – this is the central role and focuses on an inner state of passion, directed by intention. The Creator is focused on an outcome, which propels them to take action. This role is the alternative to the Victim.

Challenger – focused on learning and growth, this role holds the Creator accountable whilst encouraging learning, action and next steps. This role is a direct opposite to the Persecutor in the Drama Triangle as it is all about consciously building others up instead of blaming and shaming.

Coach – compassion and questions are the focus here. The Coach helps the Creator develop a vision and an action plan. As you can see, it is an alternative to the Rescuer. No surprise this is what I ended up doing as my job ha!

Alternative behaviours for each of the Drama Triangle roles

If you behave like the Victim try these behaviours instead:

  • Take responsibility for your actions and use them to achieve your goals
  • Acknowledge and move through your thoughts and feelings
  • Use your creative imagination to solve problems
  • Learn to take care of yourself (self-care)
  • Ask yourself – “what do I really want?” and “what step can I take to get me closer to my goal?”
  • Develop your own self-awareness

To move out of the Persecutor role:

  • Challenge others firmly but fairly with no intentions of blame or shame
  • Ask clearly for what you want in a mindful manner
  • Address any consequences of others’ actions and set appropriate boundaries
  • Ask others – “what if {limiting belief} wasn’t true?” or “where is this reaction coming from?”
  • Be flexible in order to get your needs met

If you are a rescuer try these behaviours:

  • Provide support by behaving like a teacher or a coach instead of like a rescuer
  • Encourage self-responsibility in others rather than dependency
  • Set boundaries for yourself in terms of how much support you can provide
  • Trust that the other person can solve their own problems
  • Ask others – “what can you do to change this?” or “what would you like to see happen in this situation?”

Create healthy relationships through choosing empowering roles

When we play out a role in the Drama Triangle our needs might be met in the short term but it eventually leads to anger, pain and resentment for everyone involved.

No matter which role in the Drama Triangle you gravitate to, or how long you’ve been doing it, this is your time to grow. You can choose more empowering ways to behave in your relationships by being more self-aware and choosing different behaviours.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s likely you’ve played these roles for many years and those patterns are deep. So what can you do? Well, the first thing is the desire to change. Then, educate yourself about all the roles in the Drama Triangle and the alternatives. (You’ve already started just by reading this). Finally, note your reactions and the role you play then make a list of alternative behaviours (perhaps using the list above) and practice them.

It’s not going to happen overnight and you may fall back into your previous role in the Drama Triangle, probably more than once. But like anything, each time you choose to act from a place of empowerment you build your ability to create and grow healthier relationships. You will regain your power and you’ll be able to move away from those toxic relationships that keep you in the Drama Triangle.

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