Monday, August 8, 2016

Interpersonal


I think this is my favorite of the Persian color-work hexagons so far.  And yes, I'm slowing down on them, but it isn't a race (is it?) and I've been doing a bit more reading lately.

Case in point: as I mentioned in a previous post, I picked up a book that talked about a reconfiguration of Karpman's Drama Triangle.  While I can't say I'd recommend David Emerald's book, really (the set-up was little too hokey for me), The Power of TED* (The Empowerment Dynamic) offered an interesting way of rethinking Karpman's ideas in a structure that is more--you guessed it--empowering, rather than debilitating.

So, as I mentioned, instead of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer, Emerald refashions the points of the triangle in a way that rethinks the "Victim Orientation" towards the world.  Because the other points of the triangle are defined by their relationship or interaction with the Victim (and because Persecutors and Rescuers also adopt a "Victim" mentality when caught within the Drama Triangle), Emerald argues that a reconfiguration of the "Victim" role can lead to a changed dynamic within the Triangle itself.

Instead of Victims, Emerald argues for "Creators"--that is, individuals who focus not on dealing with (or simply enduring) "problems," but on creating "outcomes."  This change in a person's "Orientation" toward his or her life can, Emerald argues, change the dynamics of the Drama Triangle because it rearranges an individual's "focus."

As Emerald argues, the "delusion of the Victim Orientation" is, "you believe you're reacting to a problem, when you are really reacting to your own anxiety."

Instead, Emerald suggests that, as a "Creator," "[y]ou orient your thoughts and actions toward creating what you most want to see or experience in life."  Rather than always reacting to a problem, you train your energy and focus on bring about the things you want in your life--even if it's only by taking what Emerald calls "Baby Steps" in the direction you want to go:
"Taking a Baby Step means doing the next logical thing in front of you--making a phone call, having a conversation, or gathering information. Each step you take either moves you closer to your vision or helps you clarify the final form of your desire outcome."
Ultimately, in a "Creator" mindset, you decide which problems you'll focus on, and your selection is based on the idea that you address the ones that "will best serve your outcomes."

The other points of the Triangle are reconfigured accordingly as well: Persecutors become "Challengers" and Rescuers become "Coaches."

By considering problems or problematic individuals as "Challengers" rather than "Persecutors," the idea is that you eliminate the Victim mentality and recognize that, no matter how difficult, life circumstances can offer an opportunity for growth and learning.  In effect, "Challengers" are the vehicles of that great universal teacher, experience.

And in a similar vein, Rescuers under Emerald's reconfiguration of the Karpman Drama Triangle also move into a more instructive--and constructive--role.  Instead of saving a Victim from his or her problems, "Coaches" do exactly what their title suggests--they offer suggestions, but without becoming "attached to any particular outcome."  Thus, Emerald argues,
"A Coach ... remembers that other people are creative, resourceful whole beings, capable of creating their heart's desires--again, whether they know it or not and whether they act like it or not.  A Coach assumes others are responsible for their life choices and experiences."
As a recovering Rescuer myself, I particularly liked Emerald's advice for making the transition to a "Coaching" mentality:
"Be curious.  Ask questions. ... A Coach's major contribution is in the questions he asks. Rescuers have a tendency to tell others what they should do, giving advice or instruction.  Coaches make occasional suggestions, but without concerning themselves with whether other people follow their recommendations."
The reason I like this description is because it taps into the things about the Rescuer role that are good: Rescuers do want to help.  Unless the person occupying the role is particularly toxic, it isn't always about control for a Rescuer--they really empathize with a Victim's pain.

But you can't fix other people's problems for them.  You just can't.  They have to do it for themselves.

So the idea of offering suggestions and support but reminding oneself to remain detached from the other person's decisions is a helpful way of enabling a Recovering Rescuer feel ... helpful.  Without becoming helplessly caught up in the kind of drama that inevitably unfolds when you want or expect or even try to change someone else's behavior.

I've also been reading the work of Mark Goulston, a psychologist who writes about how to communicate well with others.  I've finished his book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone and next I'm going to be reading his latest work, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life.

Because I don't know about you, but the title alone had me at "hello."

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."