The Winners Triangle

You may have come across the Drama Triangle if you’ve had Couples Therapy. It’s a way of explaining the games we play in our relationships. The three roles are explained below:

  • Victim
  • Rescuer
  • Persecutor

You may recognise yourself in one of these roles, or maybe someone else in your family.

Victims often feel that the world is against them and that no matter what they do, things will never improve. They see the world in black and white and through a negative lens.  A good way of recognising someone in this role, is the “Yes, but” response.

Rescuers  feel the need to make things better for others and are often convinced they are doing it for the best possible reason. They will take on too much responsibility, as well as doing things they do not want to do. They see themselves as selfless and forget their own needs.

Persecutors feel the need to punish and others will suffer from their behaviour. Punishment can take different forms, i.e active, retaliatory and/or passive.

We can switch roles in this game, depending on the situation that we are in at the time. Rescuers may tire of not getting their own needs met and switch to persecution. Victims may get tired of feeling out of control and start to persecute the Rescuer. Persecutors can start to feel guilty about their behaviour and and move into the role of rescuer. However the roles may change, the situation never improves and everyone ends up feeling bad.

This is where the Winners Triangle comes in. This allows us to take on a positive role in our relationships. So, instead of Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor, we have:

  • Vulnerable
  • Caring
  • Assertive

Vulnerable people are different from victims in that they are willing to ask for help and support to get their needs met. Instead of going into child mode, they are aware of the need to behave in an adult way. The skill they need in order to manage their relationships is problem solving.

Caring people are motivated by a genuine concern for others. They are more self aware and use this to tune into their own feelings and needs. Unlike rescuers, they do not do things that they do not want to do. They also respect others’ need for autonomy. The skill needed here is listening.

Assertive people get their own needs met, but have no interest in punishing others in the process. They will state clearly why something needs to change without resorting to anger or aggression. The skill needed in this corner of the triangle is increased assertiveness.

Look out for Part 2 for helpful hints to improve problem solving, listening and assertiveness.