The Empowerment Dynamic (Drama Triangle part 2)

Who’s ready to be done with drama, forever? It’s possible! Simple, too. Not necessarily easy, but simple, and anyone can do it, no matter what your circumstances may be.

In my last post, I taught about the dreaded Drama Triangle, and how victims take that role on themselves when they blame villains, or persecutors, for their problems. They see themselves as helpless and powerless, and look to a rescuer to make things better. I explained how these rescuers unwittingly keep victims down by reinforcing their sense of powerlessness.

Sometimes simply being aware of these three players in the situations that arise in your life is enough to cause you to shift your perspective and make different choices. The feedback I received in response to the previous post confirmed that to be true. But there’s an even more powerful way to rise above drama. Instead of merely trying to avoid and/or stop drama, you focus on what it is that you DO want to create. This is where the Empowerment Dynamic comes in. This is the antidote to the Drama Triangle, and it is glorious!

Before diving headfirst into that, it’s important to draw a distinction between victimization and victimhood:

Victimization happens when one’s dream or desire is being denied or thwarted by another person or circumstance. If you think about it, you can be victimized quite often throughout the day, whether it’s a traffic jam that makes you late for work, or your economic situation that isn’t allowing you to take your kids to Disneyland, or more serious incidences which cause you pain and suffering. You can find 10-point scales out there ranking different incidences in terms of severity. First-world problems (or the “cruise-world problems” I wrote about in this satirical post) would be 1-3 on the scale, with more life-altering situations such as job loss or illness in the middle of the ranking, and disasters such as those which make news headlines in the 8-10 extreme. As varied as our experiences may be, victimization is a part of life in this fallen world for every one of us.

Victimhood, on the other hand, is a source of identity, an orientation, a way of being in the world, in response to victimization. Victimhood is distinct from victimization in that an external event is being given power to define one’s very identity. When we say things like “This always happens to me,” or “I can never catch a break,” etc., it’s an indication that we’ve taken on victimhood orientation. Here’s the important part: even though we may be victimized, we can always choose whether or not to take on victimhood. Without putting our head in the sand, we can acknowledge the reality of victimization, while choosing our attitude and actions in response to it. The stories we tell ourselves are very powerful.

The key is where we put our focus. Are we focusing on problems or outcomes? Instead of looking for someone to blame, or someone to rescue you, think instead about the choices you have available to you and about what your ultimate end goal is. It feels a lot more comfortable in the moment to lounge in victimhood and point fingers outward rather than take responsibility for moving forward. But I promise you, when you live your life primarily as a creator, you will find joy and satisfaction far surpassing the momentary pleasure and comfort one may find in victimhood.

Okay, so here’s David Emerald’s diagram of the Empowerment triangle, placed over the Drama triangle. Each of the three players in the Drama triangle has an antidote counterpart in the Empowerment triangle, and I’ll go into those in a minute.


Just as you choose to put yourself into the Drama Triangle by focusing on problems, you also choose to put yourself into the Empowerment Triangle (aka TED: The Empowerment Dynamic) by focusing on outcomes–what you want to create, contribute to, have, do, become, see happening, etc. It’s as simple as a shift in perspective and can be done in the snap of the fingers.

The drama triangle operates through anxiety, whereas the Empowerment Dynamic is fueled by passion. I’ll talk more about passion in a future post, but it actually means “to suffer.” Being passionate about something means we are willing to suffer for it, which probably won’t be pleasant or comfortable, but the rewards of peace, fulfillment, love and joy come through the creation process and in no other way. When we’re passionate about the positive outcomes we intend to produce, we become creators, generating growth and progress for ourselves, others, and the whole world!

Persecutors or Villains are still operating in the Empowerment Dynamic, making things difficult and causing situations that we’d rather not be in. That’s just always going to be the case. The difference is, in Creator mode, we label them Challengers. Nothing about them changes except our perception of them. Instead of viewing them as persecuting us, we view them as challenging us to rise up and be our best selves, to spur our growth and development. In this way, we hold onto our own power over ourselves, and those former villains do nothing more dastardly than “red-flag” our weaknesses or become catalysts for our growth. If nothing else, Challengers help us develop patience and resilience, which can’t be brought about any other way than by going through challenges.

Can you imagine how boring it would be if everyone was perfect and behaved exactly as we expected and wanted them to? If every situation went exactly according to our plans? When we recognize and celebrate our differences from one person to the next, and the randomness of life, it becomes so much richer and more vibrant. Think about that the next time you want to wish away your particular Challengers.

Rescuers or Saviors still come into play as well, but we view them instead as Coaches or Mentors. We no longer give away our power to them, but allow them to guide and instruct us. We retain our power over our own lives by taking personal responsibility for our own results, and then that power grows.We turn to coaches and mentors not to get out of a challenging situation, as we would with a rescuer, but for support and guidance through our challenges. A real coach or mentor doesn’t take credit for our successes, but is more like a teammate and supporter, sharing in and celebrating our successes with us.

A coach or mentor can even be someone we’ve never met, but who we’ve learned from or whose example we follow, such as Christ, the Buddha, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, Justin Timberlake, etc. Nor does a coach even have to be a person. I believe animals also support us and can be examples to us, and that we can find great strength just from being in nature. There are also habits and routines that support us, as well as physical objects which we particularly love.

Is all of this making sense? Please ask away if you have any questions, and feel free to share your experiences in the comment section. I’ve planned one more installment in this series, in which I will be giving you powerful questions to ask yourself to help you shift out of the lower triangle and into the upper.

Remember, the choice is yours. Are you going to give away your power, operate under anxiety, and worry constantly about problems? Or are you going to retain and grow your power, live with passion, and make your dreams come true? It’s up to YOU!