A few years back, I introduced the Karpman Drama Triangle as “The Three V’s” — the TL;DR on that is this:
We’ve got this dynamic of relationships in which there’s a role we each play, and if we find ourselves feeling powerless and getting sad a lot, we may be in the victim role. If we’re easily angered and need everyone to do things differently, we’re likely the villain in the story. And while victor may sound like the best word in this trio, please note that this is you if you need control at all costs.
And that ain’t a good look either. (It’s always just the illusion of control anyway.)
Lately I’ve been playing with a fourth role in the whole triangle dynamic (and yeah, I know, a fourth role makes this not a triangle anymore, but bear with me here) and that’s the role of VISITOR.
The visitor is less a participant in the triangle of V’s and more an observer, hanging out around the triangle, taking in the experience the players in the drama may be having without getting swept up in it all.
Dispassionately labeling what’s happening without a stake in the outcome. Noticing… without needing to charge in and make something different than it is.
I’ve been noticing a pattern in my 1:1 sessions with my glorious clients lately: I keep saying the phrase, “How can we lower the stakes on this a little bit?”
We creatives LOVE high stakes. We thrive on ’em. We use them for our art, of course, but if we’re not careful, we become a magnet for high-stakes nonsense (things that needn’t be high-stakes status, but we amp everything up out of habit, inertia, or our place in the drama triangle).
We BECOME so completely one of the three V’s that we attract the other V’s because that’s what makes it all feel RIGHT. And right now with so much wonky in the world, we gravitate toward anything that feels right. Even drama. Even high-stakes nonsense. Even playing a role we really don’t enjoy (we enjoy it somewhere in our nervous system or we wouldn’t keep going back to it).
So here’s the fix: Become the visitor.
When something feels high-stakes and you are whipped up in the story of it all, take a breath, ask yourself if you could just CONSIDER observing this from a different point of view rather than doubling down on your V-role-of-choice for a moment, and then from the visitor perspective notice which V you were in (victim, villain, victor) and ask yourself if you can STAY in visitor mode with this particular issue.
That’s how we lower the stakes.
And from a lower-stakes perspective, the field of possible solutions expands. Like, literally, our brain’s VISION for what’s available to us in terms of resources to not only survive the situation but thrive in it no matter what GETS LARGER when we lower the stakes even the tiniest bit.
Come practice this with me! I’d love to know how this is playing out for you! Comments are open just below.
So much love flowing your way,