Do you have any friends who, no matter what happens, refuse to get caught in the drama triangle?
Two friends were having dinner together and catching up when one of them accidentally knocked over his cup of chai. It spilled all over his lap so he got up to go to the bathroom to clean himself off. While the other friend sat waiting for him, he noticed a woman sitting directly behind his friend’s seat.
Her white denim jacket was draped over her chair and was now stained with chai. He got up, walked over to the woman, and apologized on behalf of his friend, and even offered to get the coat dry cleaned or pay to replace the coat if it was ruined.
The woman looked at him with no emotion, making him wonder if she was pissed, trying to hold it together, or about to explode. The woman replied, “I chose to be here, and I chose to wear this coat. Sit down, have fun, and enjoy your meal.”
The woman didn’t create any drama around her jacket. Could you have done the same?
You have a choice every day to be a drama queen or chill. I know the choice seems cut and dry, but the thing is, the drama starts with us. Even right now I’m sure you can think of people who project their drama on others when in reality, if they looked at themselves, the drama would stop.
What I’m suggesting is doing inner work is the key to ending drama.
Therefore, ditching drama is not about dealing with the person or the situation. It’s about managing your ego in moments of crisis so you don’t repeat the drama cycle. I’ll discuss why your ego creates drama in the first place, help you identify which negative mindsets you default to according to Drama Triangle Theory, and finally explain my five-step method to get yourself out of drama for good.
The Drama Triangle Comes From the Ego
Back in the ‘60s, behavioral psychology identified three negative mindsets that perpetuate drama-filled relationships. The working theory is called the Drama Triangle, and it demonstrates that constant conflict is related to being stuck in one of these negative emotional states.
The Drama Triangle is like the Bermuda Triangle of emotions. Once you’re lost in the triangle, you’ll always cause drama with harmful intentions and never take control of your life.
Because the drama blinds you to the real problem — your ego.
You get sucked into drama because your ego gets bruised. In an immediate response, the ego tries to repair the damage by acting like a victim, hero, or villain.
Where Do You Default in the Drama Triangle?
The triangle is dynamic and we can shift between the roles. However, we have a state we enter frequently. Identifying where in the drama triangle we typically land is crucial to pulling out drama by its root.
Related: How to Legit Control Your Thoughts
When you’re in the victim corner, you always feel shitted on by the world. You believe life is happening to you without your control. You degrade your self-value and make excuses that justify your victimhood. Your intentions are out of self-pity, powerlessness, sadness, and hopelessness.
You’re being a straight-up victim when you think:
- “I can’t get a break. This really sucks.”
- “This always happens to me.”
- “It’s not what you said, but the way you said it.”
- “Life is tough and not fair.”
- “Why is this happening to me?”
Bottom line: Victims always feel like someone or something did them wrong and never look at themselves first to figure out what’s wrong with them.
When you’re in the hero corner, you continuously look to solve people’s problems to save the day. You’d rather give a person a fish sandwich than teach them how to fish because you need to feel needed. You’ll provide temporary relief without tackling the core issue until you or other people become dependent.
You’re being a straight-up hero when you think:
- “I’ll just do it myself.”
- “You’re lucky to have me.”
- “I’ll put the team on my back.”
- “If you did what I said, you’d be happy.”
- “I’m the only one that can do it.”
Bottom line: Heroes search to fix people because they won’t fix themselves.
When you’re in the villain corner, you are seeking to prove your point even if it means becoming a bully. Your intentions are out of superiority and judgment of people’s integrity. Your persecution is justified in anger and revenge.
You’re being a straight-up villain when you think:
- “I’ll show you. I can do it better.”
- “You’re wrong, I’m right.”
- “I’ll never trust you again.”
- “Wait till I give you what you deserve.”
- “You didn’t give your best effort.”
Bottom line: Villains always blame others because they feel self-righteous.
Though we have a role we default to, in the end, we always end up the victim. We can’t be a visionary if we’re feeling victimized, which is why it’s essential to have strategies to get yourself out of the drama triangle.
How to Elevate Yourself Out of the Drama Triangle
When you’ve noticed you’re in the midst of the triangle, you can make the decision that you don’t need your ego’s drama to find peace. But someone still did you wrong, someone said some shit, and your life went up in flames. You need resolution fast, so what do you do?
Here’s where the Five Fingers of Life come in handy to stop you from getting sucked into drama.
1. Be present
Stay in the moment and don’t let yourself get caught up in the ego’s stories. Don’t focus on the “Why did this happen to me?” Instead, focus on the here and now. Presence helps us distinguish when our egos put up a defense so we can keep our hearts open to love and kindness.
2. Accept what is
You can’t control or change what people do or how life unfolds. You have to accept what life deals you and take personal responsibility for your part in the drama. You don’t have to forgive and forget, you just need to accept and move on. If you need help, try writing a letter of fury and burning it after.
3. Make a choice
Once you get to a genuine place of acceptance, then you can start dealing with the situation. Remember, you have to own 100% of your part in the drama to really design a solution that takes your ego out of the equation. Otherwise, you’ll come up with choices that don’t really solve the problem. You’ll try instead to solve your inner hurt.
4. Play the game
Now that you’ve decided what’s best, go play! A person may have screwed you with one situation or another, but you’re still alive and breathing. Life is a game, also known as lila, so what are you going to do about it? Warm the bench? No! You’re an all-star player, baby! Brush off your shoulders, get out there, play hard, and make shit happen.
5. Surrender the outcome
Make big moves and take big risks without attachment to their outcome. Have no expectations and you’ll never be disappointed or injured in the game. When you expect a result, which includes expecting someone to change, you’ve already lost. When you turn over the game of life to the universe and be cool with whatever comes your way, then you’re experiencing true freedom.
Drama Is Toxic to Your Potential
The bottom line — drama is toxic. It will always prevent you from doing the right things, with the right people, for the right reasons. By detoxing drama and operating from presence, you keep your ego in check and your intentions pure. You don’t allow people’s shit to make you hot and bothered and you don’t trigger other people. Ultimately, operating outside of the drama triangle allows you to live with more creativity, energy, kindness, and passion to go out into the world and crush your goals.
So the next time someone spills chai all over your white jacket, ask yourself, “Will I choose drama or will I choose presence?”