Skip The Drama
When we hold in-person multi-day workshops, at the end of the first day we ask participants to “stay tuned” to their experiences during the evening and simply notice how the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) and its roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer may show up.
The second morning of the workshop, we invite participants to share what they noticed the night before. The check-in stories are often quite funny, sometimes touching, and useful to hear what other people are noticing about how the DDT shows up in their family life and in our cultures, in general.
In one workshop, a participant checked in on the second day with an amusing experience. She shared that the night before she and her spouse were watching TV after putting their young children to bed. She had just sat down on the couch to relax when her husband made a comment. He mumbled something about the TV program they were watching that in the past would have triggered her to react and become defensive. This was a frequent family drama-filled conversation.
Instead of reacting to her husband, she paused, took a breath, and said in one word: “Pass.” Stunned and somewhat stumped, her husband responded, “What do you mean, ‘pass’?”
“It would be easy for me to be triggered by your comment, so I am going to pass on reacting to it,” she said with a smile.
She then shared with him what she had learned in the workshop that day about the DDT and how she can observe what triggers her rather than blindly reacting. As the second day of training unfolded, her story and the new mantra, “pass or play” became a phrase that her fellow participants used to remind them that they have a choice about how they respond to life’s challenges. (The question of “pass or play?” comes from the long-running TV game show, “Family Feud.”)
Adding to the drama when it arises is a choice, and yet choosing to pass and skip the drama isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Many reactive patterns have been inherited from earlier generations and conditioned by family patterns. They have been learned over many years, often decades, and were originally adopted to help navigate stressful situations.
It can be very easy to habitually play into the DDT cycle with those closest to you, especially when there are previous patterns of reactivity.
For many, these are stressful times, and the stakes can feel high. You may be experiencing changes in your work, economic disruption, health challenges, and we’re all experiencing an avalanche of troubling political news every day. The temptation to unconsciously add to the drama is very real.
Such times require that we all choose to relate to our experience, and with others, from the highest and best version of ourselves.
When a situation arises in which you feel yourself triggered, as a Creator simply ask yourself: “Do I want to add to the drama, or pass and not play into the drama?” The answer may surprise and even shock you. You actually may want to escalate the drama at first, but over time, you have realized that the energy drains and costs become too much for everyone. You now want to choose differently. You want to skip the drama.
We all get triggered at times. If you are not conscious of your triggers, you can quickly get pulled into a family or work drama. You may not always remember to pause and ask yourself that question, but sometimes you may. With every decision to skip the drama you have taken one more step toward choosing a more empowering response to people and situations you find challenging.