Standing your ground is a powerful thing. So too is knowing how to pick your battles.

The drama triangle is one of the most powerful metaphors that I have come across to make sense of how people get trapped in dysfunctional relationships as Rescuer – Persecutor – Victim. (Usually combinations thereof – check out the work of Stephen Karpman). These roles are swapped about and exist in a relationship known as the drama cycle – as it keeps feeding itself.

Whilst one school of thought tells us that standing up for ourselves is the mark of independence and strength, another tells us that doing so can just mean that you´re playing right into some other dynamic. Context tells us which interpretation works.

Have you ever had the same argument with someone again and again, and again? Even though you´ve covered the same bases before, given them ample of information, time and energy to understand what you will and will not accept? And they do the same thing that pissed you off or made you upset the last time? And it starts to feel like a scripted exchange they´re comfortable playing out at some level?

Sometimes it´s a case of a lack of understanding (first couple of times at least).

And sometimes it´s because that person has found a way to get your attention and energetic engagement in a way they can handle, often de-centering you in the process.

It takes a certain degree of maturation to accept people as loving, kind beings. Some people just can´t handle you at your best, so they attempt to bring you to your worst.

No amount of logic or inspired argument helps in those cases and engagement is just another form of feeding the cycle they have set up.

When we seek to walk away from the drama cycle, we no longer feel the need to respond to such forms of baiting. Seeing them for what they are: methods to access your energy in ways that dishonor you.

When we engage, we´re really just trying to get their view to align with ours in some way. This is not always necessary. Acceptance is a far harder – and far more lasting solution.

Remember that everyone is entitled to see the world in the way they need to. We cannot control the perceptions of others – however – we do not need to be bound by them. Another person´s opinion of you does not need to dictate your reality.

So do you just ignore anyone who´s being a jackass to you?
Not always.

When someone is trying to put you down, standing up for yourself is absolutely the right thing to do. In so doing, you establish who you are, in your eyes and what you will and will not tolerate. In other words, you draw the line and make it clear.

You then have a choice to keep doing that over, and over again – or to walk away from dynamics that seek to victimize you. If you need to keep drawing that line, they haven´t honored you or your truth. Further engagement in the same way – as part of the drama cycle – is not likely to change that.

Be sure you do so to end a cycle, and not to hold power over someone else. That´s simply going to repeat the cycle, in a passive-aggressive form.

Ending a cycle or dysfunctional mode of relating to someone does not always mean ending a relationship or cutting your ties. It can just mean drawing firming boundaries when you see the tell-tale signs of an energetic trap at play.

That act of non-participation – not allowing your buttons to be pushed – will force the dynamic to change one way or another.

Again – Be sure you do so with the intention to end your role in a particular exchange, not to swap your role for another in the drama triangle. Your intention needs to be crystal clear.

Being stuck in ´rescuer´, ´victim´, or ´perpetrator´ has its own set of problems – and each has been thoroughly romanticized-slash-vilified in some form or another. They´re powerful archetypes that have been used to tell parts of the story of humanity. Word to note: parts. It doesn´t make up the full story though.

Remember that who you are and the quality of your relationships has so much more range, breadth and depth that these labels can convey. Of course you will play out some of these dramas from time to time with other humans in your journey – – – the key is not to let it form a stable pattern or cycle ….

Give yourself the permission to Be your multifaceted, multi-dimensional self in all things that you do and all relationships that you are a part of. Dynamics that seek to limit you are not worth participating in.

As you walk way from the drama cycle, you walk towards a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life.

Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD
The Sky Priestess

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Post © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2017. All rights reserved

Image: Gold Footpath by George Hodan. Public Domain.


  1. Casey says:

    This literally came At the exact right time for me to read when I awoke this morning. Wow! Thank you for this, I needed it! I would love to further engage and read into this topic As I see this to be one of my stumbling blocks with (authoritive men) in my life . Thanks you!!

    On Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 11:42 PM Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD wrote:

    > Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD posted: ” Standing your ground is a > powerful thing. So too is knowing how to pick your battles. The drama > triangle is one of the most powerful metaphors that I have come across to > make sense of how people get trapped in dysfunctional relationships as > Rescuer – P” >


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