A previous post explored the dysfunctional relationship roles described by Dr. Stephen Karpman’s “Drama Triangle” – the perpetrator, victim, and rescuer. People can get stuck in these roles especially when they don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like.

Thankfully, there’s a way out of the dysfunction. The “Empowerment Triangle” explains how to jump off the Drama Triangle and into healthier ways of connecting with others:

1. The Challenger:

  • Is no longer a perpetrator
  • Becomes assertive rather than aggressive
  • Stands up for their own needs and the needs of others
  • Takes responsibility for their own actions and consequences

2. The Creator:

  • No longer overgeneralizes victimization
  • Recognizes when they do have control
  • Begins making their own choices
  • Pursues dreams and goals to create the life they want to live

3. The Coach:

  • No longer rescues by enabling
  • Recognizes their own needs and practices self-care
  • Supports others by empowering them and teaching them skills
  • Encourages others by reminding them of their own strengths

Unlike the Drama Triangle roles, everyone on the Empowerment Triangle has learned how to take responsibility for their own emotions and problems. This leads to a healthy way of relating that involves mutual respect, support, and deeper connection.

Jumping from the Drama Triangle to the Empowerment Triangle can be tricky at first while you’re still learning how to differentiate the two. The more you practice, the easier it gets. However, just because you successfully jump off the Drama Triangle doesn’t mean everyone else on the triangle is automatically going to follow suit.

Sometimes they’ll notice the changes you make, and they’ll want to change too. But you may also run into people who have no intention of leaving their dysfunctional role. When that happens, they may even intensify their efforts to get you back onto the Drama Triangle, because otherwise it becomes unbalanced.  

Which of the Empowerment Triangle roles do you identify with the most? And who in your life have you noticed consistently practicing one of the healthy roles? You can use the Drama Triangle and Empowerment Triangle to figure out who fits best into your support network.

For more information on the Drama Triangle as well as healthy roles, read this article by Lynne Namka: https://lynnenamka.com/anger-management/anger-management-articles/drama-triangle/