One of the most common areas where professionals can get stuck is in our MINDSET and in our THINKING.  The reality is that what we think directly impacts what we say and do.
So, the first question is:  what are we thinking about?

Maybe one of these phrases looks and sounds familiar to you when you are under stress:

  • I’d like to do this, but he won’t
  • I can’t do my job because she
    I’m stuck because the company won’t….
    We can’t move forward because the government doesn’t….

Phrases like these are called being in a “victim” mentality.  We make assumptions that “nothing” is on our control, and that “if only” things were different or people were different, our lives would be better.

The role of a victim is one of three roles that are represented on the “Karpman Drama Triangle” – our topic for today’s blog.  The Drama Triangle is an excellent representation of how we can fall into one of three areas of “Drama” in our personal and professional lives.  For the purpose of this blog, we’re focusing on our professional roles.  However, I am sure you will see many similarities in personal relationships you may be in.

The three areas of the Karpman Drama Triangle are as follows:
1 – Victim – “Poor Me” attitude.  Helpless, can’t move forward because “they” get in the way.
2 – Persecutor – “I’m better than you!” attitude.  Demeaning, belittling, lack of care or concern, putting down others to make yourself look and feel better.
3 – Rescuer – “I’ll help you!”  Rescuers have an underlying “need to be needed” and use needless energy “saving” victims from themselves and – in effect – doing other’s work for them!

These roles are generally taken on in high-stress, emotional or chaotic situations where we “fall into” one of these drama roles.  We may know that it’s not helpful or pleasant, but our brains stop thinking and we start REACTING.

Here are a few questions for you to consider when evaluating the Karpman Drama Triangle:

  • Which role do you find yourself falling into when you are stressed out or dealing with others in difficult situations?
  • What emotions come to the forefront when you are actively playing this role?
  • How might you move from one role to the other, depending on who you are interacting with? Does it change from time to time, or do you find yourself in the same role?
  • What benefits might come from being a victim? A persecutor?  A rescuer?
  • What consequences – short-term or long-term – might there be in playing any of these roles?


The reality is, when we do not THINK, we tend to REACT when something happens to us.

In Stephen Covey’s famous book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, it shares a story of Viktor Frankl, a prisoner in the death camps of Nazi Germany.  Except for his sister, his entire family perished.  Frankl suffered torture, countless indignities, and the reality of not knowing whether each day were to be his last day on earth.

What Viktor Frankl learned through this horrific experience is that every day he had a choice.  He had the freedom to CHOOSE his response to everything that was said or done to him and around him.

We have a stimulus.
We have a response.
But in between those two – even if it is micro-seconds – we have a CHOICE.

The freedom to choose includes:

  • Self-awareness
  • Imagination
  • Conscience
  • Independent free will


This freedom DOES include being a victim….being a rescuer….or being a bully.
But, how does these choices serve you in your personal and your professional life?

  • Is it sustaining and improving relationships, or is it isolating you?
  • Is it building bridges, or is it burning them down?

In a future blog, I’ll be looking at the alternative to Karpman’s Drama Triangle, which is called “The Empowerment Dynamic” – a better and healthier way forward!

In the meantime, visit our website to view our offerings of webinars, training courses and leadership programmes that might be of use to you and to your teams in the area of personal and professional development.  We’d love to hear from you!


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(00353) 58 75 000

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