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Tips for staying out of the waters of drama

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Drama is not just for middle school girls. It's not only something mean girls create to pass the time. Drama is everywhere, all the time. It's in our families, our marriages, our friendships. It exists in our work places, our communities spaces and our churches. As long as we live real life with real people, we will deal with real drama.

If you're following along with our series at Anthem House, then you will recognize the tool below as the Drama Triangle. The Drama Triangle was created by Stephen Karpman, as a way to better understand the chaos and ever changing roles of drama.

In the Drama Triangle, there are three main roles; the persecutor, the victim and the rescuer. The participants in the game of drama take turns moving through the triangle and engaging in the different roles at different times. The persecutor brings his accusations, the victim makes her defense and the rescuer sweeps in to save the day. There are different reasons each person naturally shifts into certain roles, but every role essentially leads to the same place; drama. Choosing any role means the same thing; you have jumped into the waters of drama and you are now a participant in the game.

Here's the best thing about the Drama Triangle. It cannot happen if you don't participate. One person can assume two different roles, eventually she will tire as she runs back and forth playing a game with only herself. She will relent and go in search of new players. You always have a choice when it comes to drama; get in or stay out.

You participation determines your destination.

Should you choose to jump into the waters, you will now spend your time and energy navigating the intensity of the waves. You will be effected by the undertow and the current of which you couldn't judge from outside the water and you will struggle to stay above the water. Should you choose to keep your feet on solid ground, you will be gifted with perspective and the ability to know which direction it is to peace. You have a choice to make.

Drama happens in simple and in complicated ways. It unfolds in our marriages, through disagreements and misunderstandings. It plays out in our cars with our families as we try to make decisions on where to eat and what to do. We will find it in our workplaces as people compete for jobs, titles, and affirmations. It's with in-laws and neighbors, teachers and coaches, strangers and professionals. Drama is all over the place and learning to recognize it for what it is will set us up to navigate it successfully.

I live in an area full of round-abouts. These are simple road changes that have been implemented to keep cars moving rather than stopping at numerous four way traffic stops on the way to and from home. I love round abouts. They make life a lot easier. Especially when you drive the same streets again and again going back and forth to school, soccer practice, dance and church. But what I have come to realize is this, if you don't know how to drive in a round about, you are not just messing up the experience for you, you are messing it up for every single person who waits as you travel through it inappropriately.

There's no shame in not knowing how to do something, but there is always invitation into learning. At some point, as a driver who is unsure of the round about, my self awareness needs to kick in that other people appear to not have the same issues I have. Eventually I should recognize my invitation to learn a new way.

There is a new way to dealing with the drama that keeps defeating you. It's not the end of the world if you've found yourself in the water. It's just the beginning of your learning. Pay attention and recognize how to adjust your posture so you don't jump in immediately. Develop the practices that will better enable you to stand strong in the future. For now, here are four ways to start practicing better drama resistant tactics.

1. Train yourself to know and recognize the roles mentioned above. If you find yourself in the water, stop focusing on and fighting through the waves. Let go of the need to defend or prove yourself and pick up the responsibility of getting yourself to shore. This might include reaching out to someone who is already on shore and asking for help. Or calling a cease fire with your family while you all take a second to chill and come back later to resolve the issue at hand.

2. Work together with your people to come up with words or questions that will increase your awareness. Remember you are on the same team. My husband and I make a really good team when we work together, but when I switch over into defense while He's trying to finish the play, things just get sloppy. Try refusing to be offended when someone asks, "what role are you playing right now?" "What do you need from me that I'm not giving?" "How can I help you?"

3. Be responsible for yourself first – we cannot rescue someone if we cannot first planted our feet. Airplanes tell adults to put their breathing masks on before their child's for a reason. No one forces you to play the game, not your circumstances, not your family, not your community – you choose what you play. I read somewhere this week that Philippians was known as the happiest book in the bible and yet it was written while Paul was chained up and in jail. Paul was in charge of his response to his circumstances and not the other way around.

4. Teach those you live with to value honest communication. Mean what you say and say what you mean. If you say it, say it because you've thought about it and you actually mean it. If you don't say it, don't say it because you don't mean it. Your words carry power. They will either divide and conquer or they will unite and build. You choose what to do with them because you choose how to empower them.

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