As I and the other participants enacted our typical conflicts, I moved around from position to position, replaying the oh-so-familiar power struggles of my relationships. I felt the high of swooping in and trying to save the day; then the exhaustion and give-up when my heroics failed.
And—worst of all—I relived the toxic, lip-curling contempt of blame and criticism of my mean, Villain self, as I flipped out of those “nice” roles into my ugliest self.
But it wasn’t the recognition of my devotion to the Triangle that sent my mood plummeting. Seeing this new form emerge out of the fog was quite exhilarating. Suddenly I had an explanation for much of this major frustration and heartache of my life, why relationships just weren’t working and I needed tips for cocreating a better way.
What took me aback was the realization that, if I wasn’t in the Triangle, I had no idea of what to do or who I was.
I was very skilled at creating Drama; what else was I capable of doing in life?
I have great admiration for artists. Musicians, painters, sculptors, poets; those who have made the choice to step away from the mundane and devote themselves to the creative are like a fascinating alien species to me. Alternatively, I’ve seen myself as a non-artist, non-creative type who was good at nuts and bolts, analyzing, sorting, handling the rote and routine. That was okay until that moment. But faced with how my best efforts at keeping order—and keeping going—were resulting in this endless spin between only these three points sent me into despair. What was I to do??
Fortunately, I didn’t completely give up at that point.
In some ways, that’s what worry is for,
a way to prepare ourselves for life’s uncertainties
so that we can gain a sense of control
by continuously turning over and
imagining every detail.
If you’ve had a very upsetting or dangerous experience, of course your mind wants to figure out what occurred. We do this to process how in the world that could have happened, and how to prevent it in the future.
When I finally moved out of that initial bleakness, I began to try out the antidotes to living in the Triangle that were suggested. Things like breathing. Moving. Wondering and intending. Trying out new possibilities. Stepping into new, uncharted territory. I discovered some concepts along the way that might be useful for you, too, as you imagine leaving the familiar territory of the Triangle behind.
First I learned that there really is no way to not be creative. No matter what we’re doing, we’re choosing, and choosing is creating.
I might choose to sit on the couch and binge-watch Netflix, but that’s me creating an experience of sitting and watching. These days I understand that every single one of us is here to do this very thing, simply create our lives. And yes, I was excellent at creating the Drama Triangle, thank you very much. The difference for me now is that I’m consciously creating just sitting there or jumping in to the Hero, Victim or Villain. I know I’m choosing.
As I got the hang of being more conscious, I started to appreciate what I was creating as the Julie work-of-art that my life is. Turning towards my life this way shone a light on it, showed me the sparkles and exquisite detail that was always there. Far from a bleak landscape, with love and appreciation my life began to unfurl like a wilted plant that was finally getting water.
And then the best part began to unfold. I realized that, while I am delighted by experiencing my creations, I am absolutely thrilled when I get to co-create with others.
The energy of bouncing back and forth between what someone else is generating, then what that brings forth in me, and then what happens when I send it back again —now, that dance makes my whole being want to twirl around and kick my heels.
I know now that I can cocreate the Victim/Villain/Hero Triangle with folks around me, but doing that consciously means I can play. It’s the melodrama it was always meant to be (“I can’t pay the rent!” “You MUST pay the rent!!” “I’ll pay the rent…” “My hero!!”), and so we get to play it out, not take it so seriously. But I’d prefer to cocreate experiences I’ve never had before, parachute out into the unknown with my partner, my friends, my colleagues and see what wants to happen.
Now that I’ve been doing it awhile, here are some tips I can share about cocreation (and, of course—you’ll have more! Want to cocreate??)
7 TIPS FOR COCREATION
- Being unhappily stuck in the Karpman Drama Triangle is the result of being in Reactive Brain and not knowing how to get out. True cocreativity happens while we’re in Creative Brain. (And getting out is a matter of shifting our physiology out of reactivity.)
- When I’m in the river of cocreation, I know because my body feels the same excitement it does when I’m river-rafting through the rapids. I’m totally in the moment; I don’t know what’s going to happen next; my senses are open and available; I’m willing to respond to whatever is coming up in the next moment.
- Cocreativity is a balanced experience of sending out an idea, impulse, expression; seeing where it lands; and being available for whatever comes back. Like the rules of Improv, it’s experience of saying “yes” to whatever is going on.
- In an intimate partnership, co-creativity is about each person’s self being fully expressed, met, and then influenced by the other person’s self. The resulting creation is then and expression of each person, creating something different from what either would have done on their own.
- The question “what wants to happen?” implies that there’s an energy beyond each cocreator, bringing into form something that seems to be lurking out in the ethers.
- Cocreation is the experience of two (or more) equals totally meeting each other from essence. It’s the most delicious, satisfying, connecting and fulfilling element of any relationship.
- Finally, the ultimate cocreative question of “how can everybody get everything they want?” takes us all into this fantastic new possibility that none of us could have conjured up alone. I’ve experienced this countless times, from the wall colors at home to the EPI programming you see–to ending up in a villa on the Amalfi coast with nine beloved friends. (“What’s the Amalfi Coast?” I wondered at the time.)
Now that you understand this part of my path, from the stark flashpoint of seeing my life in the Drama Triangle, and now, today, where much of my time is spent in cocreation, you can see what’s behind the Evolutionary Power Institute–and my ongoing invitations to you to step in and join me. You are my cocreators, my playmates. Without you, I wouldn’t get to experience some of my best joy.
*Gay and Katie Hendricks revised Karpman’s original roles of Rescuer, Victim, and Persecutor)
Blessings to you, as you discover how to have your biggest, most powerful life!