- “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”– Lao Tsu
- The Paradoxical Nature of Understanding
“The whole secret of mysticism is that a person can understand everything with the help of what he does not understand. The logician seeks to make everything clear, and only succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows a few things to remain mysterious, and everything else becomes clear.”
- For whom enough is too little – nothing is ever enough.
Great relationships uplift and empower you. They’re a place of refuge and nourishment, deep connection and understanding. They make life easier, not harder.
However relationships are not for the faint-hearted. It requires super-human self-awareness, a willingness to have tough conversations, and a commitment to doing the work.
But the reward is a relationship that meets our most fundamental needs for security, love, and belonging, right up to our life-affirming needs for personal and spiritual development.
A conscious relationship is a relationship that is:
- created purposefully,
- with intention.
- clarity and choice around how you want your relationship to feel, how you like to love and be loved, and what your boundaries and non-negotiables are.
- It is intentionally structured to support those needs and desires.
Relationships are no longer about simply teaming up to meet our basic needs for food, shelter, and security. Modern relationships go beyond biological needs and into the realm of the emotional and spiritual:
As we ask more of our relationships, our rising expectations lead to increased pressure, and create greater levels of dissatisfaction.
But the relationships that get it right experience more happiness and fulfilment than ever before.
By their very nature, conscious relationships are not prescriptive. You’re not following someone else’s rulebook. You’re writing the rules for yourself.
This means that from the outside, one version of a conscious relationship will look entirely different to another.
Four Important Qualities of Conscious Relationships.
- Radical Responsibility
- Growth Mindset
- Presence & Appreciation
CONSCIOUS RELATIONSHIP QUALITY #1:
Also known as ‘owning your shit’.
Radical responsibility requires taking ownership of your limitations and admitting your short-comings:
- The places where you can do better
- The relationship skills you need to improve
- Your triggers, past hurts, unhelpful coping mechanisms, and your neurotic and compulsive behaviours.
Radical responsibility also means taking ownership of what you want.
Which is surprisingly difficult.
From the day we’re born we’re subject to the relentless conditioning of society.
This makes it hard to differentiate between what you really want, and what you’re supposed to want.
And even if you can identify what you want, we’re taught to prioritise other people’s needs above our own in order to be a ‘good person’ and a ‘good partner’.
Maintaining the status quo feels like the safer (but exhausting) option.
Yet this is how we ‘lose ourselves’ in relationships – by sacrificing our sense of self for the comfort and security of relationships that ultimately don’t serve us.
Instead, radical responsibility asks that you take a courageous stand for yourself – even in the face of rejection or misunderstanding. That you identify your non-negotiables and prioritise them over comfort, security and acceptance. That you admit to having needs, and take responsibility for what’s truly important to you.
This isn’t demanding your own way or refusing to meet your partner’s needs. It’s not making your partner responsible for meeting your needs either. (Being open to influence and learning how to collaborate are essential aspects of a conscious relationship too.)
But it does mean that you refuse to compromise your standards, long-term happiness, or fulfilment for fear of conflict or rejection.
Your needs, your happiness – your LIFE – are your responsibility. If you don’t prioritise them, no one else will.
- Know your personal boundaries and needs
- Validate your own feelings and emotions
- Maintain your friendships
- Prioritise YOU time, passion projects and hobbies
- Be willing to risk rejection for what’s important to you
- Learn to embrace healthy conflict
CONSCIOUS RELATIONSHIP QUALITY #2:
We rarely come into relationships with the best toolkit for success. As radical responsibility identifies – we each have our triggers, past wounds, and unhelpful ways of dealing with conflict.
But a growth mindset assumes we can learn to do better.
All relationships provide the perfect opportunity for those hidden hurts to arise. (That’s why no one will push your buttons quite like your partner does).
A conscious relationship doesn’t see this as a problem however, it sees this as the point.
In a conscious relationship your baggage is brought to the surface so that you can learn to heal and grow through it. It’s how your relationship helps you become a more loving, compassionate, and courageous version of yourself.
A growth-mindset acknowledges that there’ll be times of challenge and conflict in your relationship – but that’s not a bad thing. Anticipating and encouraging these natural relationship growth stages invites us into higher-order thinking and problem solving. It’s an invitation to collaborate, work as a team, and face these inevitable challenges together.
The problem with a growth mindset however, is that growth can easily become over-emphasised.
Most definitions of conscious relationships focus on ‘prioritising growth above all else’. Welcoming growth and change in relationships is healthy and necessary. Constantly seeking it out is not.
Over-prioritising growth will burn out a relationship just as quickly as avoiding it will. A relationship that is constantly ‘processing’ creates imbalance and unnecessary drama.
Despite the ideology pushed by popular personal development memes, you don’t always have to be pushing the envelope or stretching outside of your comfort zone. In secure, high-functioning relationships the comfort zone is prized and valued.
Connection, fun, intimacy, security, relaxation, healing, bonding – even growth – all occur in the comfort zone.
Yes, facing your fears and challenging yourself is important. And, having a safe, nurturing place to integrate those challenges is just as important.
Ultimately, a conscious relationship doesn’t need to force growth. Life already presents endless opportunities to grow. But by adopting a growth mindset you hold yourself to a higher standard in order to embrace that growth, and to move beyond limiting relationship patterns.
CONSCIOUS RELATIONSHIP QUALITY #3:
Presence & Appreciation
Also known as ‘owning your shit’.
Radical responsibility requires taking ownership of your limitations and admitting your short-comings:
- The places where you can do better
- The relationship skills you need to improve
- Your triggers, past hurts, unhelpful coping mechanisms, and your neurotic and compulsive behaviours.
Because there’s no toxic behaviour that can’t be unlearnt. No skill that can’t be improved. No challenge that can’t be worked out. So long as you’re willing to hold yourself to a higher standard and do the work.
The problem with this is that our unresolved relationship baggage tends to lurk in our blindspots. Which by its very name makes it hard to see.
Radical responsibility therefore requires some next level self-awareness:
You have to be willing to show up and grow up. To continually develop your emotional intelligence, your communication skills, and your ability to understand and empathise.
Radical responsibility means taking 100% ownership for your 50% of the relationship.
Quotes from James Balwin’s 1962 essay “The Creative Process,” part of the anthology The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction
“A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”
“Perhaps the primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone. That all men are, when the chips are down, alone, is a banality — a banality because it is very frequently stated, but very rarely, on the evidence, believed. Most of us are not compelled to linger with the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this world. There are, forever, swamps to be drained, cities to be created, mines to be exploited, children to be fed. None of these things can be done alone. But the conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”
‘we have an opportunity in moving beyond the Old World concepts of race and class and caste, to create, finally, what we must have had in mind when we first began speaking of the New World. But the price of this is a long look backward when we came and an unflinching assessment of the record. For an artist, the record of that journey is most clearly revealed in the personalities of the people the journey produced. Societies never
know it, but the war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real.’
Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it’s true for everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace.
The state of birth, suffering, love, and death are extreme states – extreme, universal, and inescapable. We all know this, but we would rather not know it. The artist is present to correct the delusions to which we fall prey in our attempts to avoid this knowledge…
“A fight is going on inside of me,” he says to the boy. “It’s a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is full of rage, jealousy, arrogance, greed, sorrow, regret, lies, laziness, and self-pity.”
He continues, “The other is good – he is filled with love, joy, peace, generosity, truth, empathy, courage, humility, and faith. This same fight is going on inside the hearts of everyone, including you.”
The grandson thinks about this for a few minutes, and then asks his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replies, “They both win if you feed them right.”
“You see, if I starve one wolf, the other will become imbalanced with power. If I choose to feed only the light wolf, for example, the shadow one will become ravenous and resentful. He will hide around every corner and wait for my defences to lower, then attack. He will be filled with hatred and jealousy and will fight the light wolf endlessly.“
Create, Connect, and Consume: Balance Them to Get Your Best Work Done
I’ll start with the first. To be human and creative is to constantly dream up a bunch of cool ideas to do. Unfortunately, our ability to dream is not coupled with the ability to do everything we dream up — yet we often forget that as we’re writing things down on our ToDo lists.
It’s often the case that we find jobs or other work that allows us to manage our own time or do our creative stuff in the time we own. And those periods can carry the same terror for us as a blank screen can for writers — they’re filled with so many possibilities that it’s hard to focus on any one thing and get going.
So, on the one hand, we overcommit ourselves and get frustrated. On the other, we don’t commit ourselves and don’t have a clear idea of what we need to be doing. The middle ground is clearly where we want to be, but how do we get there?
The Important Things We Do Fall into Create, Connect, and Consume Buckets
The important stuff that we need to do falls within three broad categories. We need to create something. We need to connect with people. And we need to take in and digest information — we need to consume.
I used to describe what we need to do using breath metaphors: you can’t breathe in and breathe out at the same time. Taking in information is breathing in, and creating something is breathing out. The reason I liked this metaphor is that it helps us think about how off-balance we are.
Consider how much of our lives we spend in school, in training, or just reading the works of other people, when what we need to do is take that information and output something. There’s a balance in the rhythm of breathing, just as there should be a balance in the intake and output of information.
Where the metaphor breaks down, though, is that connecting with people is not something that should be squeezed in in the leftover time. True, meaningful connections with people happen only when we take the time to invest in those relationships and people, and we can’t do that as a byproduct of creating or consuming. We all know this on some level, yet it’s both too easy to forget and hard to put on a list, so we leave connecting with people to chance, habits, and history. Chance, habits, and history don’t create meaning; intentions (and following through on those intentions) make meaning.
Though I’ve presented these as discrete categories, the reality is that it’s possible to connect with people while you’re creating and/or consuming. For instance, making the deliberate choice to watch a movie with someone and being fully with them while watching is a way to both connect and consume. Working on a collaborative project that all parties enjoy and find meaningful is a way to connect while creating.
Knowing that we have only those three categories of things that we actually need to do makes it easier on the day-to-day level to figure out what we need to be doing. And the fact that they’re all qualitative helps us get over the tendency to beat ourselves up — there’s not a list of things to do per se, as much as a meaningful metric we can use to evaluate our day.
We can also use the categories to help us set priorities for the day. We know on a gut level which component we need to be working on, and as we become more self-aware, we know what we’re capable of doing. There are some times in which we can’t be creative but we do have the energy and desire to connect with people. There are times when we don’t have it in us to either create or connect. And there are times when all we want to do is create.
At the same time, though, we can’t leave all of this stuff to fate; and this is especially true with connecting with people since they have their own lives and time. This is the point behind the heatmapping ideas: grab the reins of your creativity by learning how to figure out the trends in your days and weeks — trust me, they’re there — so that you can plan around when you’re going to be able to do what you need to do. If you’re especially creative from 9:30 am – 11:30 am, that time block is probably not the best time to be consuming. If you’re dead past 4:00 pm, don’t plan your creative work for that time.
Develop a list (I know, yet another list) of action items that relate to those three categories. For example, logging onto Twitter can be a great way to connect with people. So can reading blogs with the intention to comment rather than just read. Or see how your friends are doing.
Do a similar thing for consuming and creating. What counts? What doesn’t? Are there some activities that you can do that are synergistic, i.e., both creating and connecting?
It may help if you see this like building a deck of cards. You may have a Create deck, a Connect deck, and a Consume deck. They should all be things that are actually important to you. Then you can use the deck in one of two ways.
The point of all this is to get you out of trying to figure out what you need to do when you should be doing it. There’s a time to plan and review (a Weekly Review, perhaps?) and a time to do and hopefully, thinking about some of this helps you develop a system that works for you.Taking it to the next level: Can each aspect of our beings — the physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual — be viewed this way, too?
‘Whether we know it, or not, most of us react to life as victims. Whenever we refuse to take responsibility for ourselves, we are unconsciously choosing to react as victim. This inevitably creates feelings of anger, fear, guilt or inadequacy and leaves us feeling betrayed, or taken advantage of by others. I refer to the “Drama Triangle,” as the victim triangle. I’ve sometimes referred to the victim triangle as a “shame generator” because through it we unconsciously re-enact painful life themes that create shame. This has the effect of reinforcing old, painful beliefs that keep us stuck in a limited version of reality. I believe that every dysfunctional interaction, in relationship with other or self, takes place on the victim triangle. We move around the triangle as rapidly inside our own minds as we do out in the world.. inner drama of any kind perpetuates a vicious cycle of shame and self loathing. Moving around the triangle keeps the self-disparaging messages running.The victim triangle becomes our very own shame-making machine. It’s up to us to learn how to turn this noisy mental machine off.
Placing the three positions on a straight line with Victim in the middle, is a way of demonstrating that Persecutor and Rescuer are simply the two extremes, or shadow aspects, of victim-hood.
Persecutor —— VICTIM —— Rescuer’
The drama triangle is a social model of human interaction – It was conceived by Stephen Karpman, a student studying under Eric Berne, the father of transactional analysis. Karpman, who had interests in acting and was a member of the Screen Actors Guild, chose the term “drama triangle” rather than the term “conflict triangle” as the Victim in his model is not intended to represent an actual victim, but rather someone feeling or acting like a victim. It defines the unconscious roles people take on (and can switch between) in stressful, emotional or high conflict situations. It is what it sounds like – creating drama, creating stress, conflict or rescuing people from their own responsibility of looking after themselves. Being in the drama triangle, can also prevent people from creating and leading their own lives (i.e. a life they love.)
So to sum up, for a simple concept, the Drama Triangle can get bloody confusing. Maybe this is because it is so easy to move around a Triangle when nobody can ever really be a winner. We’re all too busy blaming and shaming each other to notice that all of the roles available are distinctly unhealthy.
The Winner’s Triangle was published by Acey Choy in 1990 as a therapeutic model for showing people how to alter social transactions when entering a triangle at any of the three entry points.
The Power of TED, first published in 2009, recommends that the “victim” adopt the alternative role of creator, view the persecutor as a challenger, and enlist a coach instead of a rescuer
All of the positions in the Winner’s Triangle can be seen to be positive and valuable: Assertiveness is not about domination, abusing power, or being better than others; Caring is being supportive without discounting the attributes or abilities of the Vulnerable; and Vulnerability is not about being powerless or laying blame. Nobody steps on the other person, no one is one-down. The only way to move into this Triangle is to commit to positive change, self-responsibility, learning and growth; and leave behind those who refuse to do so. Now is the time to extract ourselves from the toxic drama and move into the Winner’s Triangle.
The role of Starting Gate Victim is also a shadow aspect. It is the wounded shadow of our inner child; that part of us that is innocent, vulnerable AND needy. This child-self does need support on occasion – that’s natural. It’s only when we become convinced that we can’t take care of ourselves, that we move into Victim. Believing that we are frail, powerless or defective keeps us needing rescue. This relegates us to a lifetime of crippling dependency on our primary relationships.
The very thing a Rescuer seeks (validation and appreciation) is the thing Victims most resent giving because it is a reminder to them of their own deficiencies. Instead they resent the help that is given. SGV’s eventually get tired of being in the one-down position and begin to find ways to feel equal. Unfortunately this usually involves some form of “getting even” and can quickly move to a persecutor. For a SGV, a move to persecutor on the triangle usually means sabotaging the efforts made to rescue them, often through passive-aggressive behaviour.
In terms of derailing resilience, victims have real difficulties making decisions, solving problems, finding much pleasure in life, or understanding their self-perpetuating behaviours.
The Rescuer might be described as a shadow aspect of the mother principle. Theirs is a misguided understanding of what it is to encourage, empower and protect. In terms of derailing resilience, rescuers are frequently harried, overworked, tired, caught in a martyr style while resentment festers underneath. A Starting Gate Rescuer is the classic, co-dependent. The SGR tends be enabling, overly protective – the one who wants to “fix it.” Rescuing is an addiction that comes from an unconscious need to feel valued. There’s no better way to feel important than to be a savior! Taking care of others may be the Rescuers best game plan for getting to feel worthwhile.
Like the other roles, the Starting Gate Persecutor is shame based. This role is most often taken on by someone who perceived mental and/or physical abuse during their childhood. As a result they are often secretly seething inside from a shame based wrath that ends up running their lives. SGP’s tend to adopt an attitude that says; “The world is hard and mean … only the ruthless survive. I’ll be one of those.” In other words, they become perpetrators. They “protect” themselves using authoritarian, controlling and downright punishing methods. Their greatest fear is powerlessness. Because they judge and deny their own inadequacy, fear and vulnerability, they will need some place else to project these disowned feelings. In other words, they need a victim. SGP’s also tend to compensate for inner feelings of worthlessness by putting on grandiose airs. Grandiosity inevitably comes from shame. It is a compensation and cover-up for deep inferiority. Superiority is the attempt to swing hard to the other side of “less than” in order to come across as “better than.”
Ironically, a main exit way off the triangle is through the persecutor position. This does not mean we become persecutors. It does mean however, that once we decide to get off the triangle, there most likely will be those who see us as persecutors. (”How can you do this to me?”) Once we decide to take self-responsibility and tell our truth, those still on the triangle are likely to accuse us of victimising them. “How dare you refuse to take care of me,” a Victim might cry. Or “What do you mean you don’t need my help?” a primary enabler storms when their victim decides to become accountable. In other words, to escape the victim grid, we must be willing to be perceived as the “bad guy.” This doesn’t make it so, but we must be willing to sit with the discomfort of being perceived as such.
These are the most extreme versions of these three roles, but we can encounter people playing milder versions of these roles on a pretty regular basis.
|The Victim Triangle||The Winner’s Triangle||Skills to learn|
|Rescuer||Caring||Listening and self awareness|
|Victim||Vulnerable||Problem solving and self awareness|
Obviously, these three roles need each other. If you function in one of these roles, you’ll try to draw someone into a corresponding role on the Drama Triangle. Or if you’re not in one of these roles, you may find someone else is trying to pull you into one of them.
The Drama Triangle Creates Pain and Misery
Most people operate from one primary or habitual role when they’re involved in a Drama Triangle. They typically embrace this role as their identity in life.
But we also move between roles. For example, a victim can become a persecutor or a rescuer can move into the victim role. You might even move between roles in a single conversation.
When you interact from a position on the Drama Triangle, you re-enact and reinforce painful beliefs and patterns that keep you from living a conscious, authentic, and fulfilled life.
So how do you move out of the Drama Triangle? Let’s take a look at the Empowerment Dynamic.
How to Get Out of The Drama Triangle
The Empowerment Dynamic was developed by David Emerald to help people move out of the Drama Triangle. It identifies three empowered roles: Creator, Coach, and Challenger.
Below are some of the actions you can take to move from a dysfunctional role in the Drama Triangle into an empowered one. You’ll have to take these actions again and again to create new modes of healthy interaction.
Victim -> Creator
To move from victim to creator take these steps:
- Take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
- Think like a problem solver and use your creative imagination.
- Take actions that will achieve your desires outcomes.
- Instead of looking for someone to save you, learn to take care of yourself.
- Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want.
- Ask empowering questions like: “What do I want?” and “What steps can I take to get what I want?”
- Look at what’s going right in your life. You can do this by practicing gratitude each day, reviewing your accomplishments often, and appreciating the goodness in life.
Rescuer -> Coach
To move from rescuer to coach, take these steps:
- Be helpful and supportive by acting like a teacher or a coach instead of a rescuer or a fixer.
- Help people learn to solve their own problems instead of solving problems for them.
- Encourage self-responsibility rather than dependency.
- Set boundaries on the amount of time you’ll listen and provide support.
- Ask empowering questions like: “What would you like to see happen in this situation?” or “What can you do to change this?”
- Trust that the other person can solve their own problems.
Persecutor -> Challenger
To move from persecutor to challenger, take these steps:
- Challenge people but don’t blame, criticize, or oppress them.
- Be firm but fair in your interactions.
- Ask for what you want, be clear but not punishing.
- Address the consequences of their actions and set boundaries.
- Ask questions like, “What do you think you react so strongly in this situation?” or “What would happen if you challenged the belief you can’t take care of yourself?”
Another empowered model, the Winner’s Triangle, was developed by Acey Choy in 1990. It recommends alternative ways of being to counteract the roles on the Drama Triangle: vulnerable and outcome oriented instead of victim, caring instead of rescuer, and assertive instead of persecutor.
Are You Ready To Get Out of the Drama Triangle?
There are characteristics of and consequences to being on the triangle that all three roles bear in common. Let’s talk about a few of them.
Lack of Personal Responsibility
Whenever we fail to take responsibility for ourselves, we end up on the triangle. Not even Rescuers, who pride themselves on being responsible, take responsibility for themselves. They take care of everyone else, but have no idea of how to do it for themselves. Not taking responsibility is a key identifying factor in recognizing when we are on the triangle. Persecutors shift responsibility by blaming others for their misery. Victims look for someone else to take responsibility for them. Not one of the three roles take responsibility for themselves.
As long as we chase ourselves and others around the triangle, we relegate ourselves to living in reaction. Rather than living spontaneously and free through self-responsibility and personal choice, we settle into dull and painful lives ruled by the agendas of others and our own unconscious beliefs. To experience a fulfilling life requires a conscious willingness to get off the triangle and extend grace to those still encumbered by their drama.
It’s not necessarily easy because we’ve practice and reinforced these patterns so many times. You need to give it your all. Take time to study the Drama Triangle and the Empowerment Dynamic. Journal about your reactions and and the role you see yourself playing. Make your own program to practice the skills for your corresponding role in the Empowerment Dynamic, one at a time.
Painful Beliefs Rule
Sometimes we simply need to sit with an uncomfortable feeling – such as shame, without acting on it. Shame does not necessarily imply that we have behaved wrong or unethically. Shame is often a learned response.
Frequently we get on the triangle through the port of painful feelings. It seems that many of us tend to let painful feelings rule us. We think a thought and it triggers shame or fear, which prompts us to react in a way that puts us back on the triangle. Our reaction is usually a misguided attempt to control or get rid of the painful feeling so that we can “feel better.”
Anytime we deny our feelings we set ourselves up for a victim perspective. Feelings are real. They are “energy-in-motion.” When we discount or undermine our emotions we end up being overtaken by them, becoming impulsive reactors. We can’t take responsibility for ourselves when we refuse to acknowledge our feelings, which means that these disavowed “inner tyrants” will go on driving our behavior from behind the scenes.
Although it is true that our feelings are generated by what we believe, feelings are nonetheless important. They alert us when we are thinking unhappy thoughts; feeling “bad,” for instance, lets us know we are thinking a most unhappy, possibly distorted, belief. Instead of denying the feeling, we learn to follow the feeling in to the belief behind it. This is where true intervention is possible. The feeling dissipates once the belief behind it is made conscious and addressed. We learn to recognise that our feelings are what point us to the limiting beliefs that are keeping us stuck on the triangle. When suppressed, these denied emotions become secret pockets of shame within the psyche. They only serve to alienate us from others and sentence us to a life on the triangle.
We tend to deny feelings and beliefs that we have judged as negative or unacceptable. As previously mentioned, we rescue ourselves by pushing these unacceptable parts into the dark unconscious. They don’t necessarily stay there, however. Whatever thoughts and feelings we don’t own, i.e., take responsibility for, will end up being projected out into our world, usually on someone we “love.” As soon as we judge some thought or feeling within us as unacceptable, we will unconsciously look around and find someone who has these same traits and hate them for it. This is called projection and it is a propelling force on the triangle. Projection ensures that the victim dance continues.
Chances are, you’ll return to and play out your former role in the Drama Triangle again and again. But every time you act from an empowered place, you build your capacity to interact in healthier and happier ways. Gradually, your relationships will feel more satisfying, you won’t feel so powerless, and you’ll be able to avoid toxic relationships that would only draw you back into the Drama Triangle.Your Turn: Which role on the Drama Triangle feels most familiar to you? What emotions come up when you see this? How do you notice when you’re in a self-defeating role and how do you get out of it?
The uses of Art, theories & the societal implications
by Thomas Moulson
Politics is the set of activities that are associated with the governance of a country, state or area. It involves making decisions that apply to groups of members and achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community. The academic study of politics is referred to as political science. Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as “the art or science of government” and “political principles”), but does often colloquially carry a negative connotation. The word has been used negatively for many years: the British national anthem as published in 1745 calls on God to “Confound their politics”, and the phrase “play politics”, for example, has been in use since at least 1853, when abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared: “We do not play politics; anti-slavery is no half-jest with us.”Prologue
Degenerate art (German: Entartete Kunst) was a term adopted in the 1920s by the Nazi Party in Germany to describe modern art. During the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler, German modernist art, including many works of internationally renowned artists, was removed from state-owned museums and banned in Nazi Germany on the grounds that such art was an “insult to German feeling”, un-German, Jewish, or Communist in nature. Those identified as degenerate artists were subjected to sanctions that included being dismissed from teaching positions, being forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, and in some cases being forbidden to produce art.
Degenerate Art also was the title of an exhibition, held by the Nazis in Munich in 1937, consisting of 650 modernist artworks chaotically hung and accompanied by text labels deriding the art. Designed to inflame public opinion against modernism, the exhibition subsequently traveled to several other cities in Germany and Austria.
While modern styles of art were prohibited, the Nazis promoted paintings and sculptures that were traditional in manner and that exalted the “blood and soil” values of racial purity, militarism, and obedience. Similar restrictions were placed upon music, which was expected to be tonal and free of any jazz influences; disapproved music was termed degenerate music. Films and plays were also censored.
Under the Weimar government of the 1920s, Germany emerged as a leading center of the avant-garde. It was the birthplace of Expressionism in painting and sculpture, of the atonal musical compositions of Arnold Schoenberg, and the jazz-influenced work of Paul Hindemith and Kurt Weill. Films such as Robert Wiene‘s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and F. W. Murnau‘s Nosferatu (1922) brought Expressionism to cinema.
The Nazis viewed the culture of the Weimar period with disgust. Their response stemmed partly from a conservative aesthetic taste and partly from their determination to use culture as a propaganda tool.
On both counts, a painting such as Otto Dix‘s War Cripples (1920) was anathema to them. It unsparingly depicts four badly disfigured veterans of the First World War, then a familiar sight on Berlin‘s streets, rendered in
caricatured style. (In 1937, it would be displayed in the Degenerate Art exhibition next to a label accusing Dix—himself a volunteer in World War I—of “an insult to the German heroes of the Great War”.)
After the war, Dix returned to Dresden and resumed his art practice. Taking inspiration from his wartime activities, he created a print series called “Der Krieg” (“The War”) (1924). The disturbing black-and-white imagery includes such grotesqueries as a skeleton soldier reclining against a cliff with a long rifle aimed at his face; a man with a bloodied brain, eye, and hand, whose tongue lolls out of his mouth; and stormtroopers with eerie masks reminiscent of horror-film villains. Starkness, despair, and inhumanity radiate from the series, which was consciously modeled on Francisco de Goya’s “The Disasters of War” prints (1810–20), which satirize a 19th-century Spanish conflict.
Roth was an atheist who once said, “When the whole world doesn’t believe in God, it’ll be a great place.” He also said during an interview with The Guardian: “I’m exactly the opposite of religious, I’m anti-religious. I find religious people hideous. I hate the religious lies. It’s all a big lie,” and “It’s not a neurotic thing, but the miserable record of religion—I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s not interesting to talk about the sheep referred to as believers. When I write, I’m alone. It’s filled with fear and loneliness and anxiety—and I never needed religion to save me.”
About the Author
Society in Nazi Germany
The Nazis believed in war as the primary engine of human progress, and argued that the purpose of a country’s economy should be to enable that country to fight and win wars of expansion. During the 1930s, Nazi Germany increased its military spending faster than any other state in peacetime.
This was funded mainly through deficit financing before the war, and the Nazis expected to cover their debt by plundering the wealth of conquered nations during and after the war. Such plunder did occur, but its results fell far short of Nazi expectations. The Nazi government developed a partnership with leading German business interests, who supported the goals of the regime and its war effort in exchange for advantageous contracts, subsidies, and the suppression of the trade union movement. Cartels and monopolies were encouraged at the expense of small businesses, even though the Nazis had received considerable electoral support from small business owners. Nazi Germany maintained a supply of slave labor, composed of prisoners and concentration camp inmates, which was greatly expanded after the beginning of World War II. In Poland alone, some 5 million citizens were used as slave labor throughout the war. Among the slave laborers in the occupied territories, hundreds of thousands were used by leading German corporations including Thyssen, Krupp, IG Farben, Bosch, Blaupunkt, Daimler-Benz, Demag, Henschel, Junkers, Messerschmitt, Siemens, and Volkswagen, as well as Dutch corporation Philips. By 1944, slave labor made up one quarter of Germany’s entire work force, and the majority of German factories had a contingent of prisoners.
How do I achieve emotional detachment from someone?Kasey Lofty, lives in Huntsville, AL (1978-present)Answered December 6, 2014
Healthy detachment does not mean complete disengagement as other answers have suggested. It’s just less ENTANGLED and dependent. It starts with the realization no matter how connected the relationship may be, people are still going to make their own choices for their own reasons.
What is detachment?
Detachment is the:
* Ability to allow people, places or things the freedom to be themselves.
* Holding back from the need to rescue, save or fix another person from being sick, dysfunctional or irrational.
* Giving another person “the space” to be his/her self.
* Disengaging from an over-enmeshed or dependent relationship with people.
* Willingness to accept that you cannot change or control a person, place or thing.
* Developing and maintaining of a safe, emotional distance from someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional outlook on life.
* Establishing of emotional boundaries between you and those people you have become overly enmeshed or dependent with in order that all of you might be able to develop your own sense of autonomy and independence.
* Process by which you are free to feel your own feelings when you see another person falter and fail and not be led by guilt to feel responsible for their failure or faltering.
* Ability to maintain an emotional bond of love, concern and caring without the negative results of rescuing, enabling, fixing or controlling.
* Placing of all things in life into a healthy, rational perspective and recognizing that there is a need to back away from the uncontrollable and unchangeable realities of life.
* Ability to exercise emotional self-protection and prevention so as not to experience greater emotional devastation from having hung on beyond a reasonable and rational point.
* Ability to let people you love and care for accept personal responsibility for their own actions and to practice tough love and not give in when they come to you to bail them out when their actions lead to failure or trouble for them.
* Ability to allow people to be who they “really are” rather than who you “want them to be.”
* Ability to avoid being hurt, abused, taken advantage of by people who in the past have been overly dependent or enmeshed with you.
If you are unable to detach emotionally for physically from something or someone, then you are either profoundly under its control or it is under your control.
How to Develop Detachment
In order to become detached from a person, place or thing, you need to:
First: Establish emotional boundaries between you and the person, place or thing with whom you have become overly enmeshed or dependent on.
Second: Take back power over your feelings from persons, places or things which in the past you have given power to affect your emotional well-being.
Third: “Hand over” to your Higher Power the persons, places and things which you would like to see changed but which you cannot change on your own.
Fourth: Make a commitment to your personal recovery and self-health by admitting to yourself and your Higher Power that there is only one person you can change and that is yourself and that for your serenity you need to let go of the “need” to fix, change, rescue or heal other persons, places and things.
Fifth: Recognize that it is “sick” and “unhealthy” to believe that you have the power or control enough to fix, correct, change, heal or rescue another person, place or thing if they do not want to get better nor see a need to change.
Sixth: Recognize that you need to be healthy yourself and be “squeaky clean” and a “role model” of health in order for another to recognize that there is something “wrong” with them that needs changing.
Seventh: Continue to own your feelings as your responsibility and not blame others for the way you feel.
Eighth: Accept personal responsibility for your own unhealthy actions, feelings and thinking and cease looking for the persons, places or things you can blame for your unhealthiness.
Ninth: Accept that addicted fixing, rescuing, enabling are “sick” behaviors and strive to extinguish these behaviors in your relationship to persons, places and things.
Tenth: Accept that many people, places and things in your past and current life are “irrational,” “unhealthy” and “toxic” influences in your life, label them honestly for what they truly are, and stop minimizing their negative impact in your life.
Eleventh: Reduce the impact of guilt and other irrational beliefs which impede your ability to develop detachment in your life.
Twelfth: Practice “letting go” of the need to correct, fix or make better the persons, places and things in life over which you have no control or power to change.
Steps in Developing Detachment
Step 1: It is important to first identify those people, places and things in your life from which you would be best to develop emotional detachment in order to retain your personal, physical, emotional and spiritual health. To do this you need to review the following types of toxic relationships and identify in your journal if any of the people, places or things in your life fit any of the following 20 categories.
Types of Toxic Relationships
* You find it hard to let go of because it is addictive.
* The other is emotionally unavailable to you.
* Coercive, threatening, intimidating to you.
* Punitive or abusive to you.
* Non-productive and non-reinforcing for you.
* Smothering you.
* Other is overly dependent on you.
* You are overly dependent on the other.
* Other has the power to impact your feelings about yourself.
* Relationship in which you are a chronic fixer, rescuer or enabler.
* Relationship in which your obligation and loyalty won’t allow you to let go.
* Other appears helpless, lost and out of control.
* Other is self-destructive or suicidal.
* Other has an addictive disease.
* Relationship in which you are being manipulated and conned.
* When guilt is a major motivating factor preventing your letting go and detaching.
* Relationship in which you have a fantasy or dream that the other will come around and change to be what you want.
* Relationship in which you and the other are competitive for control.
* Relationship in which there is no forgiveness or forgetting and all past hurts are still brought up to hurt one another.
* Relationship in which your needs and wants are ignored.
Step 2: Once you have identified the persons, places and things you have a toxic relationship with, then you need to take each one individually and work through the following steps.
Step 3: Identify the irrational beliefs in the toxic relationship which prevent you from becoming detached. Address these beliefs and replace them with healthy, more rational ones.
Step 4: Identify all of the reasons why you are being hurt and your physical, emotional and spiritual health is being threatened by the relationship.
Step 5: Accept and admit to yourself that the other person, place or thing is “sick,” dysfunctional or irrational, and that no matter what you say, do or demand you will not be able to control or change this reality. Accept that there is only one thing you can change in life and that is you. All others are the unchangeables in your life. Change your expectations that things will be better than what they really are. Hand these people, places or things over to your Higher Power and let go of the need to change them.
Step 6: Work out reasons why there is no need to feel guilt over letting go and being emotionally detached from this relationship and free yourself from guilt as you let go of the emotional “hooks” in the relationship.
Step 7: Affirm yourself as being a person who “deserves” healthy, wholesome, health-engendering relationships in your life. You are a good person and deserve healthy relationships, at home, work and in the community.
Step 8: Gain support for yourself as you begin to let go of your emotional enmeshment with these relationships.
Step 9: Continue to call upon your Higher Power for the strength to continue to let go and detach.
Step 10: Continue to give no person, place or thing the power to affect or impact your feelings about yourself.
Step 11: Continue to detach and let go and work at self-recovery and self-healing as this poem implies.
* To “let go” does not mean to stop caring; it means I can’t do it for someone else.
* To “let go” is not to cut myself off; it’s the realization I can’t control another.
* To “let go” is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.
* To “let go” is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
* To “let go” is not to try to change or blame another; it’s to make the most of myself.
* To “let go” is not to care for, but to care about.
* To “let go” is not to fix, but to be supportive.
* To “let go” is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
* To “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own destinies.
* To “let go” is not to be protective; it’s to permit another to face reality.
* To “let go” is not to deny, but to accept.
* To “let go” is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
* To “let go” is not to criticize and regulate anybody, but to try to become what I dream I can be.
* To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
* To “let go” is to not regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
* To “let go” is to fear less and love myself more.
Step 12: If you still have problems detaching, then return to Step 1 and begin all over again
Johann Hari – Causes of Depression
9 factors causing depression (7 are psychosocial, and 2 are biological)
Psychological reasons and upsets give rise to the physical symptoms of depression.
Disconnection from work that gives meaning and purpose (little control or autonomy in your work).
Disconnection from people (feeling profoundly lonely). Not sharing any meaningful experience with any other people.
Disconnection from meaningful values. Focusing on materialism, and doing things purely for extrinsic rewards instead of intrinsic reward.
Disconnection caused by childhood trauma. For every traumatic experience, you go through as a child it significantly increases the likelihood of a later diagnosis of depression.
Disconnection from respect. Modern life cultivates the view that status, celebrity and wealth are what denote success and anxiety over the loss of financial security and status often are underlying constant stress in people.
Disconnection from the natural world. Faced with the vista of the natural world we feel ‘small’ not ‘big’, and we feel like we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Animals in captivity rock, lose interest in sex (why they are so hard to breed in captivity) and show other compulsive and depressive behaviors they don’t exhibit in the wild. We are animals. We need to be outdoors. Rates of depression when exercising in the natural world, and spending time outdoors all reduce in comparison to time spent outside. We often feel ‘more alive’ when outdoors in nature. Grounded.
Disconnection from loss of hope for a better future.
The role of genes and biology in depression. Neuroplasticity means the brain is continually growing and changing and does not stay the same. This means the concept of a ‘broken’ brain that cannot be fixed is not supported by current scientific evidence. However, distress from the external world and brain changes occur together which lead to depression. Johann Hari in his book “Lost Connections” on page 146, says that these changes in the brain can then “acquire a momentum of their own that deepens the effects from the outside world.”
Scientists have discovered that for depression there is a 37% genetic inheritance, BUT for those who carry the gene and are born with it — the inherited gene HAS to be activated by your environment.
It is WHAT happens to you in life that determines if that gene for depression is switched on or not.
Biological factors can influence depression as it has been proven that suffering either glandular fever or underactive thyroid can significantly increase the rates of depression in people who are vulnerable.
Some forms of bipolar are seen by some (not all) scientists as having a greater biological component, but psychosocial factors are still seen as influencing and affecting all forms of depression.
When I studied psychology at university, I learned about the bio-psycho-social model about mental health. However, when I went to the doctors with acute symptoms, not one doctor has ever asked me:
“What happened to you?”
What has happened in your life?
What happened in your childhood?
What happened to you in the last year that has been a major trigger?
What support systems do you have in your life?
Do you have friends?
Do you have a family? Do you have a supportive family?
How is your marriage?
How are your children? What is happening to them?
How is your job? Are you fulfilled at work?
A psychiatrist that I was referred to 20 years ago when I had attempted suicide asked me all these questions over the period I saw her. I do not think I would be alive today if it were not for her superb care and attention to help me create new meaning rebuilding my life.
But the doctor gave me a prescription for some pills, and I was out the door in 10 minutes. I was given a chemical solution.
None of them ever fully worked. I increased the dosages to the maximum each time.
I stayed on the medication for over five years the first time.
I lost my sex drive.
I put on weight.
I felt flat and numb.
But I felt I could not exist without the medication. At least I was alive. That is how I felt.
It felt like my emotional pain increased too much when I tried to come off the tablets.
I went back on medication nearly a year ago. This new antidepressant does not affect libido and is meant to have no side effects when you come off it (no withdrawal symptoms). I tried to go off it a few months ago and started to get panic attacks and so started it again.
I then started to see a therapist who does body somatic therapy based on the work of Dr. Peter Levine on healing people from complex PTSD.
I can feel huge changes within my body and my ways of thinking since I have been exploring this healing modality on a regular basis.
I was told by my doctor to stay on the antidepressant for a minimum of one year before I tried to come off it. So I am going to do that.
What do I make of all this research as put together and researched by Johann Hari?
It all makes complete sense to me.
Stress is usually characterized as an unpleasant and unwelcome feeling that expresses itself both physically and mentally. The effects of stress range from irritability and anxiety to raised blood pressure and heart disease. When you think of stress in these terms, it’s no wonder you spend so much time trying to manage or avoid it altogether.
But what if, instead of stressing over how to rid your life of stress, you focused on ways to use it to your advantage? What would happen if you perceived stress as a helpful companion with benefits to offer rather than as an irritating foe out to make your life harder?
As Dr. Kelly McGonigal describes in her book The Upside of Stress, it is this shift in mindset that allows you to have a healthier, even beneficial relationship with stress. Dr. McGonigal, a health psychologist, once shared the same stance a majority of health professionals have adopted: stress is bad and you need to eliminate it immediately before it affects your health. However, she discovered that perceiving stress through such a negative lens can actually be harmful to your health. On the other hand, when you view stress as a helpful tool and motivator, and learn how to harness it to your advantage, your health is less likely to be negatively affected. In fact, stress may actually be good for you if you learn to embrace it and use it properly.
Benefits of Stress
Often when you think of stress, the first thing to come to mind are its negative symptoms (i.e., panic, headache, tightening in the chest, etc.). But stress actually has an abundance of benefits to offer, such as:
Stress can serve as a great motivator for reaching goals or accomplishing simple tasks. Whether it’s landing a new job promotion, meeting a deadline, or tackling a to-do list, a little stress can push you to take action. If you didn’t feel any stress at all, you might not feel inclined to break out of your comfort zone, which is essential for personal growth.
When you experience small amounts of stress, you are actually building up your resistance to future stressors. According to the American Psychological Association, over time humans are wired to adapt to stressful situations by building personal coping systems.
Boosting Cognitive Function
A 2013 study from the University of California – Berkeley found that acute stress can generate new nerve cells in the brain, improving cognitive and mental performance. According to the authors of the study, a certain amount of stress can promote:
- Optimal levels of focus
- Improved memory
- Enhanced learning of new tasks
Using Stress to Your Advantage
If stress has its benefits, then how do you take advantage of them? How can you make stress work for you rather than against you?
Retrain Your Brain
As previously discussed, how you view stress can determine how it affects you. Retraining the brain to view stress as a helpful tool rather than a roadblock will take time as the latter has likely become deeply ingrained. While it will take some practice, it is possible to change your response when stress rears its head.
Replace the negative thoughts that typically arise at the first sign of stress with more positive ones, such as, I’m experiencing stress and welcome it fully. Then, think of how you could best use it to solve a problem or reach a goal. How can you make the stress work for you?
Tip: Don’t stress over trying to think of a way to best use stress! This strategy will get easier over time. If you’re unable to think of how to take advantage of whatever stressor you’re facing, simply accept that it’s there. Sit with it rather than flee from it.
Reframe Your Perspective
When you attach purpose to a difficult situation, it becomes easier to handle or, at the very least, motivates you to handle it. When you reframe stressors in order to add meaning to your life, you are giving your stress a positive purpose.
Perhaps its purpose is one of the above benefits discussed such as motivating behavior, building resilience, or boosting cognitive performance, or it could be something else entirely. Pairing stress with a purpose will allow you to broaden your perspective as to why it exists and the benefits it provides.
Sometimes you feel stressed and can easily identify the cause; other times you’re unsure where it stems from. Pinpointing the root cause of your stress puts you in a position to work with it rather than against it. When you feel the symptoms of stress, either physically or psychologically, but don’t know what’s brought it on, you may feel as though you aren’t in control of what’s happening. However, identifying its origins and approaching it within a more positive framework puts you back in the driver’s seat.
Stress is a part of everyday life, and as much as you might try to will it away, it will inevitably creep up again. By making stress your ally, you can learn to use it to your advantage and perhaps even learn something new in the process. So next time you’re feeling stressed, accept it as part of the journey and embrace it whole-heartedly. You might be surprised by the result.