Stop Being the Victim (You’re More Powerful than That!) - Christine Kane

Paula, one of my Platinum clients, is upleveling in a big way.

Paula works in a male-dominated service industry setting where each person is responsible for his own business, but the group operates out of the same building.  She is the only woman.

Several months ago, Paula realized that she had to stop complaining that the “good ol’ boy” network wasn’t sending referrals her way.  She decided to stop waiting, to step into her power as a business-owner, and start creating her own outcomes by upleveling her marketing, her brand, and her clients’ experience.

Well, guess what?  It’s working.

She has already doubled the TOTAL number of clients she had last year, her team is happier – and she’s in control of her business for the first time in a long time.

Recently, Paula found herself confronted by the aforementioned men who weren’t particularly happy to discover the extra work she’d done on herself and her business.  Although Paula hadn’t violated any rules, her male colleagues positioned themselves as victims to her newfound success.  They accused her of not honoring “the group.”

Now, in situations like this, most of us react.  We hear the accusations and we can’t help ourselves.  We rush away from our power and rush toward the drama.  We want everyone to know that we, in fact, are the victim here!

So, Paula’s response to these men was the same response many of us would give:

“Sure, you can say we’re a ‘group,’ but none of you were referring anyone to me – so I had no choice but to do something about it.”  (In other words, they were the perpetrators in the first place!  Paula was forced to react to their bad behavior!)

Eventually, she made it through the conflict, but there were still hard feelings and she felt a little bruised by the conversation.

Here’s what I told Paula:

When you begin upleveling, the people in your life often do not know how to face the truth of their own feelings or reactions, so they might try to “hook” you with drama.  They may accuse you of causing harm to them, rather than claiming their own feelings.  It can catch you off guard – and suddenly, you find that, instead of standing in your power, you want them to know that it’s YOU who is the victim.

Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level – one of the best books I read last year – calls this “racing to occupy the victim position in the relationship.” He writes that almost every argument among couples is about this dynamic of trying to be the victim. (Just think of how many times you hear someone say to his spouse, “Well, YOU’RE the one who…”)

Even though Paula wasn’t arguing with her spouse here, she did catch herself racing to the victim position.  She had stepped out of her power and her personal responsibility. (And her truth.)

It’s understandable, of course.  But you can handle conflict, or even criticism, while staying centered and clear. Here’s what to do:

1 – Get present.

When you are caught “off guard,” it means that your attention is not where it needs to be.  In any situation where someone steps into accusing you or hooking you into a drama, the very first thing to do is call on your most powerful tool: Your attention.   This is the time for high alert. Be fully in your body and call your attention to the present moment.

2 – Put off the conversation for 24 hours.

When the time comes for your response, you can thank the person for their observations and let them know that you’d like to address each one, but that you would like to schedule time later in the week.  Schedule a time, and assure the person that you will be able to give him a higher level of attention when you meet.

3 – Remember the drama triangle.

Many people spend their entire lives moving from position to position on the drama triangle.   The drama triangle consists of 3 positions: perpetrator, victim and rescuer.  Stay aware of this and get clear on your response by making sure that you are not playing into the drama triangle.  Step out of it and find a more powerful platform to speak from!

4 – Take time to explore the accusations.

When you are quiet and centered, ask yourself if there was any truth in the accusations.  If there were highly-charged accusations, be sure to use language that is neutral.  See if you can find any lesson or truth in what was said.

5 – Share your intentions. Admit your mistakes.

When the time comes, start by thanking the person for his observations.  Tell him you’d like to address each point he made and ask him if he’d be willing to listen until you are complete.

Then, share your intentions and frame them from a place of your own power and creativity.

Next, admit where you might have messed up or could have done something better.

The end result will be a higher level of communication and resolution.

The coolest thing about NOT racing for the victim position is that you learn how to handle yourself OUTSIDE of the drama triangle. You learn that there is a more powerful way to respond than the knee-jerk methods that have been modeled for us all our lives.

Note: This is a topic people rarely talk about when it comes to their work in the world, so please add your thoughts, experiences or questions below. I’d love to chat with you about this!

  • Janika Skembo

    Accountability, I think, is the word that breaks the cycle. When you take personal responsibility for your emotions and responses, you don’t need a scapegoat, or a hero, and you cannot be a victim. Not being emotionally involved in the situation, my first thought was about how Paula could move into a position of power by responding, “I’m sorry. I didn’t try to slight you. In fact I would love to help all of you learn what I did to create this success. I really do want to see us succeed as a team.” They may reject the offer because “some play men consumed by loss,” but they are free to choose their own way.

    Great article–as always.

  • Alease Michelle

    I love this post and totally agree. I find that if I keep my voice calm and listen, it helps to deflect the drama. I also then clarify my intention because I find that some people filter information from their past experiences and react. I love all your advice reminding us to remain in our powerful place.

  • Katy Tafoya

    Christine thanks for this. I’m a huge believer in everything happens for a reason. This past year I’ve finally gotten a really clear reason for some crazy stuff that went down a couple years ago. Luckily, I never really stepped into playing the role of the victim when it all went down, but I learned quite quickly how to separate my garbage from your garbage (or as I like to tell my clients…it’s not your crap to have to deal with and clean up, it’s theirs and they’re just hoping you’ll join in their mess).

    You’d think after working on upleveling with you that I’d have recognized that “when you begin upleveling, the people in your life often do not know how to face the truth of their own feelings or reactions, so they might try to “hook” you with drama.” Who knew I started my upleveling journey that long ago.

    Thanks Christine for all you do!!

  • Alison Gude

    Christine: Your post was so timely. I am at a conference where my best friend has suddenly turned on me. From a place of love, I see why she is doing it as things are falling apart in herr life. I have often been a rescuer in her drama triangles. Anyway, I am quite distraught by the whole situation. Your post and others’ comments have allowed me to give myself permission to step out of the current drama where I’ve taken on the role as the victim. Not anymore. I am a strong, capable, awesome woman. While I feel sad, and I am grieving what seems to be the beginning of the loss of an important relationship, I am not making any decisions and taking care of myself.

    This is a different process for me. I am so looking forward to meeting with you in July. Thank you!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks Jan! Can’t wait to meet you too! Yay!!! 🙂

  • Jan Schochet

    Hi Christine,
    So timely for me as this is the dynamic I realize I’ve been in the middle of with my childhood good friend for some time now. For some reason, her high drama has settled on me for the past year and has really taken a turn for the jugular, surprising me. These are some really great and helpful tactics that I’ll love putting into action. It will definitely help me come from a place of my own personal power. Not to obliterate her, or anything like that–just so I don’t feel like a victim. Looking forward to Charlotte! counting the days.

  • Jayzon

    I did enjoy the article and the comments but I felt angered by another article that gave me who, what, where, when, and not the how and why. Telling someone to “step out” of the victim position is great if you have an escape, but if you don’t the situation becomes much more stressful since our instincts are to protect ourselves. Also there are problems when we are the victim of something very traumatic and it causes us to react much stronger in situations that other people would accept.

    I also find admitting your mistakes can be very bad. Its very hard to find truth within with all the external noise and just as your ego can falsely convince you that you are right and the victim, it can also convince you that you are wrong and the aggressor. The ego can easily become a perfectionist that replaces the bullies in our lives. We simply don’t like it when others judge us or push us around so we end up doing it with our own ego, that way when we get attacked by others we are ready for it.

    This strategy may prepare us for war, but it doesn’t teach us how to be at peace.

    The root of these problems are simply this.

    We view agreements from our perception
    Our perception is never exactly like the other persons or people
    a break in our perception in the agreement may not be a break in the other persons

    On top of that, the other person may actually get off on breaking agreements and use rules to justify their attack on you and make you feel ashamed for not admitting guilt of breaking rules that were not your understanding.

    Here the only thing I feel the person needs to “admit” is that they didn’t understand the agreement in that way. There is no should have unless you are doing something you know is wrong, i.e. outside the agreement.

    I would love to hear anyone’s advice on how to deal with being a victim, when you are being victimized and unable to escape. Particularly how to fight back without crossing the line of defense, and how to avoid the escalation of you beating up a bully, then the bully hitting you from behind some other time and beating you up, then you getting friends….and on and on till the nuclear holocaust.

    It seems that endurance and tolerance are the way to go, but feelings of anger and revenge stay with you for as long as you still feel the pain from the attack. When you feel better you can say and mean you forgive them, but if they or someone else does the same thing its like opening an old wound.

    Also, our old wounds can cause what appears to be an over reaction to being “poked” by others (sometimes by your “newer” friends in jest, and sometimes by antagonists and pushers) This can cause a problem and make us feel like we need to apologize to the person who hit us in our wound. If its a friend in jest, it seems like an apology is in order. If its a pusher poking around for buttons, it seems an apology may be a good tactic.

    Maybe we need to heal completely in order to forgive, but this seems really hard to do in today’s society. You can’t heal a wound while someone is poking at it which means that in order to be pain free you have to give up what you want out of life and change yourself to fit your circumstances, but this conclusion pisses me off because there is no reason why we can’t have agreement and banish the pushers. Why the hell should we always have to leave and change and war. There must be a way to create peace without being okay with being warred. But if you’re at peace and a WAR comes your way, you are now at war unless you can avoid it. but if your looking to avoid it, then you are not at peace.

    the power of love vs the love of power. The never ending war.

    • Christine Kane

      Jayzon – There’s a lot going on in your response here.

      One thing to practice daily is to ask yourself the LESSON you are learning in this situation and how you might have actually attracted it or created it. This is not about blame or fault. It’s about power.

      Also – whenever someone listens to me talk about the Drama Triangle and quickly points out the holocaust — then I often question that they “went there first.” In other words, this is a lesson for YOU and for YOUR power right now. There are many levels on which to answer the question of deep levels of human unconsciousness and the many ways it becomes evil. But what I’m MOST interested in is how YOU can walk a different path in your life so that you can become a leader and a present powerful human.

      I would also suggest that you click on the “Archives” link in the right sidebar and read through my older blog posts because this issue is addressed often! Thanks for your response!

    • jonathan

      I can really identify with what jayzon is pointing out, that while, yes, in theory all of these tactics are sound, in the real world of causality, there is no time for rational processes during a conflict. Some of these replies are from individuals in the corporate bubble, where all this corporate psychology is the only mindset and there are more formal rules to the triangle, and a boss to level the field of play ultimately.
      My problems have all occurred in casual situations outside of any structured social set, in other words on the street. And you can bet that when conflict arises on that level, the cops are only there for clean up after the fact, and they would identify with the perps first before ever considering the other positions, so there is no real right or wrong, just the quick, the dead and the ugly. I know this from exp. unfortunately, and trying to forgive is nuts when someone who you thought was a ‘friend’ just pulled a knife on you with the hopes of relieving you from that guitar you bought, or your money or your life. I had something like this actually happen in a public park in SF, and it was broad daylight before lunch in Buena Vista Park (near Haight) and there were at least 40 people around who could not have helped but hear what was happening, and it was slander and threats of violence that went seemingly un-noticed. I noticed, because this ‘friend’ was digging his claws into my arm and holding me down, other hand ready to strike at me with all of his peers standing around egging him on. It was an escalation from past interactions with these, whome I had (mistakenly) forgiven and, well, you can probably guess how I truly feel about that now… So it is difficult to find that positive space, and then knowing that you are about to need a police officer and you know it will be too late for them to do anything, while these thugs act as if they can get away with anything they want, because the law is set up in thier favor anyhow, so what is the point? Has anyone considered this? Hello, superman, jesus, buddha, kermit the frog, please help me now in my time of need. It is oppurtunity for all parties who are here to ‘help’ to merely profit from your pain by writing books and theoretical manuals that promise to help you, that end up pissing you off because do any of the authors spend anytime hardly at all outside the comfort of the office or home or anywhere they aren’t dominant entities researching why thier theories are speculatory at best? (Tell me I’m wrong) People in the corporate world are easy meat in my opinion, because they will only hire individuals who have been hard conditioned to this corporate psychology, so it’s probably less of a challenge to analyze them and get to the real issues (“oh, my gosh, I gave the boss a blow job, but didn’t get that promotion”) when there are people that couldn’t afford the help of a counsellor or lawyer that face a much harsher reality daily than any suit will ever endure in thier whole lifetime. So you sell a few books, talk shop with your colleagues and discuss where you will be dining over the weekend and stumble past dozens of people that have been run over by your corporate hustle, that you would not think twice about running over with your new 45,000$ BMW again and again so you won’t have to admit that you don’t care about anything but your own bottom line, and everyone who won’t feed it and your corporate sized ego are expendable. I am a bit overwhelmed at trying to live a peaceful existence when it is less popular than ever due to events we all are too familiar with from seeing it on t.v. constantly. But this is why we can believe in christ and go and bomb the holyland, leave our own people sick and dying in the streets while our sweet little investments bubble over with the corrupt moneyflow and blissfulness and ignorance are skipping along to a new world order… and I agree that everytime I meet anyone now, I am always second guessing myself and them, and being on egde constantly is terrifying, the littlest things set me off, and not one person of any value will befriend me because they will be the next perp just by proxy. I felt that I should make an example of these punks to do the rest of the world a favor, but I get the feeling that you will side with them in the moment just to see a victim get the punishment that you actually deserve for turning your back on your fellow humans. These are my feelings, and thanks Jayzon, for allowing me to vent. If I pissed someone off for my comments here, I’m sorry up front! Just because the corporate world is a stale cracker on my tongue doesn’t mean that it won’t make you righteous (because it seems that you must believe that), and I would come to your rescue if I could, but I am too busy trying to figure out how to make a dollar to get to where, if anywhere, one can go to avoid nuclear holocaust… but don’t fret, I’m sure the wealthiest of you won’t be affected at all.

      • Jayzon

        I hear what you are saying about the corporate world, but i don’t view it as a corporate problem. I view it as an individual problem. a problem of intent vs intuition. The corporation is a hierarchy of intent that like all hierarchies grows through assimilation of symbiotic structures. Unlike bees and ants and such, human hierarchical structures war in assimilation, similar to the amazon ants who war other ants and they make the offspring believe they are amazon ants and slaves. This would be like one religion taking over another and then converting the children of future generations to follow the religious hierarchy. a corporation is no different in that it has the same rights as an individual (without the same responsibility) and acts as a hierarchy. when one corporation battles another, the losing corporation gets a new corporate religion, those who don’t follow, get expelled/fired. If the corporation were made up entirely of shareholders, there may still be a hierarchy, but the top and the bottom would be responsible to everyone in the circle (as opposed to a pyramid the pushes responsibility lower and pulls power higher)

  • Trish

    Christine, thanks for this article, this topic is so important for all of us. The Four Agreements (Ruiz) was particularly helpful to me when I first discovered the book ten years ago. I really needed to stop taking things personally (and still work on this daily). Somewhere in my personal study, this phrase stuck with me: “The way that you treat me says nothing about me, my value or worth. It only tells me what journey you are on.” This is powerful medicine, in my opinion :). Playing the victim is a hard habit to break, but once you start to pay attention to and recognize the hooks, it gets easier. Sending you love, CK!

    • Christine Kane

      Hey Trish! (Fun fact: my Ruby coaching client Cari Cole worked with Ruiz and created the accompanying music CD for The Four Agreements!) And wow, i LOVE that quote. Thanks!

  • Sarah

    Hi Christine,
    Thanks for another great post. I love them all and rarely get round to thanking you for your inspiring work! I remember the Drama Triangle so well from my days as a piano teacher…the way the teacher (me) would fluctuate from Persecutor to Rescuer, with the “Victim” actually controlling it all! It was like this: “first I will punish you for not doing any work. Then I will rescue you by telling you yet again how to surmount the difficulties in the music.” Meanwhile the little victim sat there passively, enjoying their weekly routine. It was tricky to get round this, but eventually I learned a few techniques: such as “Okay, you haven’t done any practice; so do some now. I’ll listen.” …and then get them to figure out for themselves how to tackle the tricky bits of the music. They knew how because I’d told them a thousand times. At least it forced them to be a bit more self-aware and less helpless. Anyway… your post made me curious about situations where I too may be playing the role of victim. I really enjoy your tips on interpersonal relationships! (The thing you wrote ages ago about the “pre-emptive No” was so valuable!!!) Thanks again.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Sarah! You sound like a great piano teacher! Very aware of your role and how to empower your students best. (My old piano teacher is probably the reason I don’t play anymore! He just sat there and ate chunks of cheese. I have NO idea why!) Anyway, thanks for your thoughts here!

  • Stephanie Wellington, MD

    Christine, I really love your articles. They seem to speak to me at just the right time. I appreciate your comments about not running into the victim role. I am in the midst of creating a lecture on speaking with parents in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for new nurses. I think the points about remaining in your power and responding rather than reacting are important to maintain open, clear communication, especially in this emotionally charged setting. Thank you.
    Stephanie Wellington, MD, Postpartum Neonatal Coach

    • Christine Kane

      Wow – what great work you’re doing Stephanie! (I assume you know my client Sue Ludwig?) Thanks for your kind words, too.

  • Allison J

    After being in therapy for 5 years I decided to train as a counsellor/therapist – I wanted to be able to give back. During my training I realised that I also had another ulterior motive. I was tired of feeling like the “victim” and I wanted to be the “rescuer”. While its not always pretty to open your eyes to yourself, this realisation allowed me to step out of the drama and be there more authentically. I see this in my personal relationships as well, but it absolutely takes practice. I think that we as people are so multifaceted that different people in our lives hook us in in different ways, it’s why relationships are such great oppotunities for personal growth. But it means that getting hooked every now and agin is inevitable, part of being human, not something to beat ourselves up about. Its being able to step back, notice and be curious as to why it happened that allows us to grow and to (to borrow a word of your’s Christine) uplevel.

    • Christine Kane

      The cool thing, Allison, is that you were able to recognize your own motivation here. That’s the start of huge success. However, I do still think you can move forward and create this purpose-based life while working through that ego desire to be the rescuer. And of course you’ll get hooked in every now and then! It happens to all of us! (Upleveling is so much fun, isn’t it?)

  • Stephanie

    Sooooooo timely! Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Here is a quote I just received today that relates:

    “Whenever we find ourselves emotionally triggered or upset, we are listening to the voice of the ego. The ego is that part of us we invited in as children to protect the psyche. It is an essential part of you. However, it is not your highest nature. You are part of the light of the creation of the Universe; you are part of the Divine. When you are emotionally activated, you have forgotten about your divinity. You are looking to another for your security. It is the small ego that is asking for respect, for love, for validation. Your God-Self does not need these things; it dwells in the consciousness of the Universe and is love” -Ewers 2010

  • Angela W Rockett

    Thanks to your Uplevel Your Business course, I can feel myself upleveling in so many ways. And one of those ways is standing up for my time and my schedule. As a self-employed fine art painter, I’ve spent years giving into the needs of other people’s schedules because I let them seem more important than mine simply because they have employers. That’s no longer the case, and this particular newsletter (rather eerily) came at just the right time. I’ve got a big day of marketing ahead of me, and goals I want to meet and one of my friends called early this morning to ask me a huge favor that would have taken at least 3 hours out of my day, just so she could go to work. And instead of giving in to that little nagging voice that was telling my I should do it to be good person, or she won’t like me anymore, etc., I found that, finally, I couldn’t place her work needs ahead of mine! This is quite a turnaround for me, one of many since I signed up for your program. Thank you so much, Christine!!! You are truly a Godsend. I cannot wait to meet you in July!

    • Christine Kane

      Go Angela! So happy to know that Uplevel Your Business is helping you with boundaries AND marketing! Our businesses truly teach us everything we need to learn, no? 🙂

  • Lynn Ruby

    Thank you Christine! This is good stuff. And very timely. Love the drama triangle. I know which corner of that triangle I’m typically on (ouch!) and now I have tools for getting off of it entirely. Thank you.

    • Christine Kane

      Lynn – when it comes to the triangle, if you’re on one corner – you tend to be on the other ones, too! 🙂 Great discovery, though, huh? Keep me posted on your progress!

  • Brian Lambert

    This article came just at the right time. I am transitioning from working in a family insurance business to a song writing and performing career. My grandfather, my uncles with whom I work is in the process of dying and as a result I have been alone to handle the business during a time when there has been 5 hail strorms or as we call them catastophes in the insurance busness. The workload has been unbelieveable and inevitably some things have slipped through the cracks as a result of the volume of work and the lack of manpower to handle it. Instead of being applauded for my efforts I have been criticised for my shortcomings. The feeling that has come up was anger. I have been working internally as my wife and I have done your Up Level your life program and the changes have been profound. This article came just in time.
    I have also found focusing on forgiveness being very helpful during this time. Mostly forgiving myself for perceived shortcomings and not being able to rise above this situation. The forgiveness part is extremely healing and I can feel the the difference in my body when I say internally, aloud and into a mirror. ” I forgive myself”. It seems counterintuitive to forgive yourself when the prevailing feeling is that you have been wronged. Taking a little from Louise Hay that these outer situations are just reflections of our inner world, this need to forgive others is just a reflection of the need to forgive ourselves.

    • Christine Kane

      Powerful stuff, Brian. I’m deeply touched to know that Uplevel Your Life has helped you so deeply! Thanks for your note!

  • Laura Smith

    Wow. Very insightful stuff. I realize now that often, when I tell the story of my failed marriage, I put myself in the “victim” position. Regardless of what transpired in my relationship, I can see how that story really disempowers me. I totally understand the meaning of the quote “racing to occupy the victim’s position.” Next time I have the opportunity to paint myself as the victim, I’m going to remember this blog and make a choice about my words — a choice that honors me. Thanks so much, Christine!

    • Christine Kane

      yay Laura!

    • Monique

      I just went “Aha!” Not a marriage, but a failed relationship that caused an incredible amount of pain, two years ago. I’m still trying to make him the bad guy, feeling sorry for myself because I was hard done by. It’s time to tell a different story.

      Christine – my story is similar to the Horrible Break Up story you’ve shared in the past – would you have any tips on translating this in a more empowering way?

  • Lydia Puhak

    I don’t know what it is, but lately I’ve had nearly zero tolerance for being around other people when they’re trying to hook me into their drama! Maybe it’s because I read The Big Leap a few months ago and have been applying it along with The Empowerment Dynamic to keep myself in the mode of Creator (vs. Victim, Prosecutor or Rescuer). My husband’s a big time Rescuer and it’s tough to be steps (or better leaps) ahead of him on a path of being mostly drama-free and increasingly aware of the difference between my business and his or getting caught up in solving the world’s problems. I love your concise perspective here, Christine! Very helpful. Thanks so much!

    I’m currently reading Just Listen by Mark Goulston which is adding yet another lovely layer of wisdom to my ability to deal with others in drama.

    • Christine Kane

      Lydia – pretty soon, you won’t even ATTRACT those peeps! It won’t even be about the energy of tolerance. They’ll vanish and go elsewhere! Thanks for the extra resources!

  • Kerry

    this have given me new perspective on misunderstanding with a friend. now to decide how to put this wisdom into practice. thanks for the clarity of your ideas.

  • Joy #2

    Such a timely article for me, Christine. I’m going into my 5th therapy session with my estranged sister, and it hasn’t been going well. I recognize a whole lot of “drama triangle” going on, and this week, I am tasked with responding to accusations of last week. I have given this thoughtful consideration all week and am assembling non-accusatory notes for today. I have already taken the step of acknowledging and apologizing for the hurts I have caused, and unfortunately, my sister refuses to do likewise or to forgive.
    That said, I continue to pray for her to grow past this so her bitterness does not turn self-destructive. I am near the point where I may be backing off, feeling that I have done all I can in genuinely good spirit. Life is too short for energy drains like this, esp. once one has taken steps to make things better.

    • Christine Kane

      Joy2 – You’ll notice that you have SO much more space when you don’t make space for the “gunk” I talk about in this post. You just upleveled you! Yay!

  • Anna Garrett

    Great post! And you’re right, this is something that’s not talked about in the workplace much. Recently, there’s been some talk of cutting my job back to half-time (NOT initiated by me!) The first place I went was “how dare they, no one knows what I do”. But when I stepped out of feeling like a victim… all sorts of possibilities started to appear!

    • Christine Kane

      Great turnaround Anna – and yes, you need that extra time to rev up your coaching biz!

  • Noreen Campbell

    Great article, Christine. It’s a great reminder for me today as I have a challenging conversation coming up this afternoon.

    A similar tool I use is The Power of T.E.D. (The Empowerment Dynamic) by David Emerald. A quick read that clearly shows alternatives to the drama triangle. I have used this technique and shared it many times over.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Noreen – you always share such GREAT additional resources!

  • Kathryn

    Wow! I just experienced this last night with a close friend. I feel better that I hopefully have handled it properly. However, my mother has a habit of keeping the drama triangle going all of the time and always keeps herself in the victim position. How do I permanently put myself out of her triangle and what is the best way to respond to such a close family member?

    • Christine Kane

      Kathryn – this is all about “practice.” There’s no one-time event. So you keep working it and seeing what changes and how you feel. Test, tweak and try again. It’s ALL process!

  • Julie

    In my office we’ve been working for over a year not to be the rescuer part of this triangle, or being the “care-taker” for each other or our patients. Patients, and so many others, do love to play the part! If we participate it just puts us “down in the hole” along with the victim and stuck. Its been a surprisingly difiicult awaremness to build but we all help each other to recognize when we fall into either role. I’m going to print out this colum too and put it in our inspired reading place (appropriately in the staff bathroom. It’s not the first time your blog has been there. Where else can I get their quiet attention several times a day for some good messages?!). Thanks for all your wisdom!

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Julie! I was almost hesitant to post this article BECAUSE of what you wrote here. We are all so conditioned to think this way – that exploring another option can be very triggery for people, especially those of us who SERVE or coach or heal. But it’s really the only option for health. Keep me posted on your progress and thanks for the kind words!

  • Leonie

    This comes at such a good time for me. I think I’ll print this out and put it up on the wall.

    I’ve been trying to stand my ground and be assertive as I’ve moved into a new role that is demanding and hectic. Certain people in the company I work for are quick to jump to accusations and I recently found myself so tired of feeling like I have to defend myself all the time. It made me grizzly, snap-happy and… powerless. The harder I was trying to be assertive, the less I liked what was coming out of my mouth.

    I think the approach you described above will help me be assertive in a calm way, which will make me feel more professional and stronger.

  • Julie

    Your eyes are so pretty in your video. I JUST put up my first video. It took overcoming fears to do so and I’m glad I did. I’m working on my vision board in these days. I can’t decide if I want to do it digitally or with paper.


    • Christine Kane

      Julie – Do what’s easiest and what will get you to do it. That’s all. 🙂

  • Joy


    Thank you for another awesome post!!

    I’m SO looking forward to UpLevel Your Purpose in July…wow…that’s very soon….sweet.

    • Christine Kane

      I’m looking forward to it, too! It’s an amazing group of purpose-based entrepreneurs – very very cool people. You’ll LOVE them! (And they’ll love you too, Joy!)

  • Joy


    I LOVE your approach and explanation, and congratulations on believing in yourself by standing in your power to serve your higher-level clients!!

  • Michelle

    “The coolest thing about NOT racing for the victim position is that you learn how to handle yourself OUTSIDE of the drama triangle. You learn that there is a more powerful way to respond than the knee-jerk methods that have been modeled for us all our lives.”

    I can see that often in everyday Life … and not only at work. I hadn’t realized there existed a drama triangle … I had noticed the energy level in it though.
    Thank you for the clarification and the tips.

    A book I find very useful in conflict resolution is Hostage at The Table by George Kohlrieser.

  • Miranda

    I should add – I realize THE MARKET is not a person, but Christine, I follow your advice every time I negotiate with a client who believes in THE MARKET and wants to argue me into lowering my rates.

  • Lotte Engelund

    Dear Christine
    Thank you for your newsletter & Webpage . it is an never ending resource to “aha”-experiences 🙂
    Reading this article I just realised that my life is so much better, richer, funny, happy ect. when I slide away from the drama & victim. I never realised that I could do anything about it my self, but… So this is one of the aims for the rest of 2011 🙂


  • Miranda

    This couldn’t be truer! I am self-employed in an industry plagued by a dark force known as THE MARKET. All my colleagues are victims of this terrifying monster. There’s nothing to do about it: THE MARKET is destroying us, THE MARKET is pushing us to lower rates, THE MARKET makes it impossible to do good work at a fair price, etc. etc.

    I recently decided it was downright silly to believe in THE MARKET – or at least to believe I could be its victim. I realized I was in charge: of myself, of the quality I had to offer, of the way I want to work. I quit accepting clients who didn’t want to pay for that quality. It was a bit scary, but what do you know? The clients I let go were immediately replaced with clients not only willing but HAPPY to pay what I was charging.

    Now I work fewer hours on projects I enjoy with clients I like… and THE MARKET has slunk back off to wherever monsters go when you lay them to rest.

  • Tamara Brennan

    Christine, Love your articles and everything you generously send out. (I just got off messenger with ex, whose fav sport is boxing. So good timing here… In my experience there are a couple of things I have learned from these folks, the ones who come and try to push you off balance for their own reason/stuff. The heavy duty ones will not let you close the discussion because they feed off the energy they extract from you. There may not be any peace treaty signed. So the ONLY thing you can do is act in integrity for yourself. I especially find it good to admit, as you suggest, when I may have goofed and apologize. A little active listening helps (I understand that you are angry because…) but there is a fine line between doing that for the integrity bit and rescuing. Two things a great teacher taught me from Cherokee psychology: 1. If you have buttons, the point of uncomfortable confrontations is to learn what they are so you can LOOSE your buttons and 2. there are people who are “tyrant teachers” people who show up to push you. They come in several varieties but overall they push you, terrorize you, etc. and… bring you to the place where you can heal and come out the other side more whole if you find your power and stay with the process of loosing those buttons that they push with such exactitude. So we ultimate should thank them for showing up. Two more thingies… 1. before the meeting, reinforce your energy field and center in your heart and 2. I try to remember the word Namaste while it’s going on – “I honor the place in your where light dwells, we are one” something like that. Heh thanks for letting me share, did me good. Love to you from Tam in the SIerra Madre next to the Guatemala border… PEACE and Namaste

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks for the additional coaching here Tamara! I do think that some people in our lives show up JUST to show us our buttons. I like Carlos Castenada’s phrase “Petty Tyrant.” To me, that makes it easier to swallow! (Paula calls these men “the puppies” because they are always drooling and climbing all over each other. It makes them less threatening to her!)