A. You accept where you are by facing the reality of your situation.
Think of the sides of the triangle as 3 warehouses of one-liners. Try to recall a discussion that bothers you and assess which side the statements come from. Here is a simplistic example: Jack and Jill in Fetching the Water.
Jack: (chewing on a toothpick) Hey Jill, run up the hill and fetch me some fresh spring water, will ya? (demand)
Jill: (hammering in the distance)
Jack: I’m talking to you! Are ya deaf or just dumb? Fetch me that spring water or you’ll be sorry! (insult and threat)
Jill: I know you don’t mean what you say to me (excusing), but I wish you’d be nicer.
Jack: You know I got this bandage on my head! I can’t go to the hilltop right now and you’re much better at running. Besides the last time I went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, I fell down and broke my crown! You want that again? (helpless)
Jill: I’m on my way, Jack. (appeasing) If I don’t come tumbling down again, I’ll be back soon with that pail of water. But you know what? As soon as I finish building the house and running plumbing to it, you’ll have all the spring water your little heart ever wants! (rescue, solving)
In order to escape our dead-end conversations, we have to identify the triangle game. Take a closer look.
Fight Side: blame, shame, attack, threats, demands, insults, criticism, acting superior
Flight Side: poor me, helpless and wanting to be rescued
Helping Side: rescuing, offer of help, making excuses, solving, appeasing
- You never… (blame and shame)
- You should… (criticism, endless tutoring, superior language)
- I’m tired of telling you to… (constant criticism, teaching and discipline tactics)
- I’m going to… (threats of unreasonable reactions to keep you in line)
- Did you… (obsessive reminders about details that are ways to establish your subservience)
- You’re … (stupid, fat, lazy etc.)
- You have… the finesse of a gorilla (comparisons to animals)
- I didn’t mean to…. (making excuses and explaining)
- It’s all my fault… (everything feels like it’s your fault)
- I’m sorry… (even if you’re not)
- Let’s talk about something else (changing the subject to avoid more hurt)
- I’ll do whatever you want, just tell me… (creating more situations where help is needed)
- I can do that for you. (putting oneself into the hero role)
- Look how hard I’ve tried. (needing credit for helping and over-helping, being a martyr)
- I’ll take care of this. (taking charge so that one feels needed)