Do you love that dopamine rush you get with the high of saving someone from a ‘bad’ situation or solving someone’s problems for them, but loathe the feeling of being thrown under the perpetual bus when they blame you if it doesn’t work out they way they expected?
Yeah, we’ve all been there. It’s a Drama Triangle: the Perpetrator, the Rescuer & the Victim. There is no winning while on this triangle. It appears you are when you are afforded the accolades of the Rescuer, but soon enough, when you really didn’t save anyone (by the way, no one saves anyone) you are accused of being the Perpetrator.
How to get off the triangle? Simple. Don’t play the game. What? What if someone honestly needs help? Help them help themselves. What if someone really is calling you the Perpetrator? So what? Ever hear the saying, What someone else thinks of you is none of your business? It applies here.
Much of our western world is based on the Drama Triangle: law, insurance, marketing, teaching, social services, politics, health care and most relationships. Take any situation and you can see how one party plays the role of Rescuer (healers, lawyers, teachers, do-gooders, product marketers) and another plays the role of Perpetrator (the rich, the authority, society, the Blues/Reds, aging) and that leaves the Victims (the underprivileged, the brown people, the helpless maidens, the poor, our disillusioned youth, your sagging skin). They/we don’t usually play those roles willingly, we get tossed into them if we subscribe to the triangle’s efficacy.
But recently when I went through intensive training to become a certified mediator, I realized how much I still wanted to sit in that Rescuer corner. One of the rules of being a mediator is You DON’T solve anyone’s problems FOR them, you guide them to their OWN resolution. Why? Simple. If you solve it, the parties will believe that the ability to solve their issues is outside them. And if it goes awry, you become the Perpetrator. SHE did this to us!
I knew all that, right? Consciously. But day after day, doing role playing, mediating, and NOT volunteering suggestions for resolution was really really hard. We all tend to gravitate to one role on the triangle or the other. My role of choice was clear. But when I saw someone as a victim or even incapable, I took away their power. They were in the place they were for a reason, it was creating an opportunity for growth and learning that I, in my arrogant wisdom, couldn’t know. My part was helping them help themselves. Empowering them to find their own creative solutions.
When the parties tried to make me the Perpetrator by not making the other party go away, I had to remember: What others think of me is none of my business. And to squelch my desire to offer my self-perceived sagacious advice, I had to remember my value was in empowering the parties, not solving or rescuing! And when I naturally wanted to make one party the clear perpetrator, I had to remember, this isn’t my story, no right or wrong, only opportunities for growth.