The point that I am interested in making in this post is related to the impact that it has on our health when we get stuck in the loop of the drama triangle. Essentially, it is impossible to play out one of the three roles of victim, villain, or hero in our interactions AND be in a state of mindfulness at the same time.
I took this picture at a small little art show on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, a few summers ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t note the artist’s name and yet I keep finding appropriate topics to suit her messages.
“Holding onto it only makes you sick” reminded me of the narratives we create, play out, and reinforce in our lives when we’re in conflict with others. Therefore, reminding me of the drama triangle model that I had come across in the past. Every story has a victim, a villain, and a hero, which I believe was originally coined as the “drama triangle” by Karpman, S. as a model for fairy tale and script drama analysis. However, the model also proved to be quite useful later on in psychotherapy, conflict resolution, and as a basic model of human social interaction. To read more about the theory as it relates to human interactions and conflict resolution, here is a link to a short summary written by Gary Harper: Conflict Drama: Victim, Villain, Hero?
To be in a state of mindfulness involves being in connection with ourselves; seeing clearly what is happening in reality beyond our mind’s interpretation and commentary; and to respond from a place where the ego doesn’t get in the way. Where ever there is drama, there is either suffering or the potential for suffering. From a mindful state of being, however, there is no story, just direct perception, and therefore, there is no suffering and no drama. Also, from a state of mindfulness, there is space for healing, change, and a letting go. What we hang on to psychologically, has a real impact not only on our mental health, but on the physiological and physical realms of our being.
Too often, I meet people who are caught in the drama triangle and psychologically attached, convinced, and even comfortable staying there. They are also sometimes people who are quite sick, with many different physical and physiological conditions. I completely understand it and I have been there and continue to get caught in it every now and then. Unfortunately, without either a meditation practice or some means of checking in with ourselves to jump off the story-making-merry-go-round, there is a real risk of increased suffering. “Holding onto it only makes you sick” is not just a saying or a metaphor.
Take the time to keep your mind healthy. Take the time to examine the stories you tend to play out and shift from passive victim to assertion, from hero to problem-solver, and from controlling villain to collaborator, as described in Harper’s article. Even if it’s for no one else but yourself – for your own health.