Partnering Lesson 11. Vulnerability, Potency, & Reflection
Summary of skill
- Understand and learn to recognize Drama Triangle & co-dependent dynamics, and respond with curative rather than entangling energies
- Vulnerability as a “cure” for victimhood
- Potency as a “cure” for bullying/domination
- Reflection as a “cure” for rescuing
- Discussion about helping work in general: As helpers, we encounter people in various kinds of suffering, distress, and need. Our compassionate longing to help others may cross a line from being centered in ourselves, and aware of appropriate boundaries and responsibilities (“a healthy space”), to a co-dependent space in which we are entangled with the others in an unhealthy way. A very common trap for this to happen is the story of “victim, bully, rescuer,” also known as the Karpman Drama Triangle. This set of roles is a no-win set as far as positive outcomes and resolution; it is a self-perpetuating, never-ending, “standing wave” of drama—a perfect example of a mass thoughtform, which is holding sway over our world in a myriad of ways. The roles can shift in a quicksilver moment, as victims become bullies and rescuers become victims; it’s a slippery business, as unstable a place to rest upon as quicksand, and thus not a very good platform for your pastoral service.
- Discussion about dynamics in spiritual healing and counseling situations: As a person who is perhaps seen as having a close connection to an awesome power, you may be “thrust” in to rescuer role, consciously or unconsciously, by those whom you serve, who may want sympathy and may go for that via playing the victim, against a villain or bully—a person, a situation, life, God, etc. You may have a deep need to rescue others as part of your own shadow or unconscious material; people who are attracted to the helping professions often do.
- You will get better outcomes for those you serve and you will have a better life yourself if you attend to staying out of the Drama Triangle. The first step is to become aware of it and observe your own feelings and thoughts in an ongoing way, through reflection. The next step is to become aware of what others are asking of you, with or without words. The next step is to have a positive way to utilize that incoming energy and turn it into something good—like Rumplestiltskin, spinning straw into gold. You take responsibility for what is happening and face it with your humanity and your divinity. In Sheila Ryan’s supervisory cure, “victim” becomes “vulnerable,” “bully” becomes “potent,” and “hero” or “rescuer” becomes “reflective.” (In David Emerald’s TED cure, the roles are “creator,” “challenger,” and “coach.”) Learning to cultivate Sheila’s “cure” qualities and to practice embodying them is a part of your skill package for your formation and development as an effective spiritual helper.
Resources for reflection & discussion
- “You cannot make anyone else stop playing games. Nor can you stop them trying to hook you into a game. But . . . you can stay out of game-playing yourself, or get back out of it if you find that you have already gotten in. And you maximize the chance that you will invite the other person out of their game, if this aim matters to you.”—Ian Stewart and Vann Joines, TA Today: A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis (Nottingham: Lifespace Publishing, 2008), p. 254
- Gary Harper, The Joy of Conflict Resolution: Transforming Victims,Villains, and Heroes in the Workplace and at Home, pp. 2 – 11
- Sheila Ryan, Vital Practice: Stories from the Healing Arts: The Homeopathic and Supervisory Way, pp. 91, 94
- David Emerald, The Power of TED, pp. 98 – 113