The Winners’ Triangle
The Winner’s Triangle developed by Acey Choy [Choy, 1990] is another elegant piece of theory adapting Karpman’s Drama Triangle [Karpman, 1968] showing the three roles without discounting other peoples’ ability and human worth.
Look how the naming of the roles has changed. From Persecutor to Potent. From Rescuer to Responsible. And from Victim to Vulnerable. These are ways of being in the world that are not at the expense of ourselves or others.
Fig.1 The Winner’s Triangle
The Vulnerable Position
People in the Vulnerable position, like people in the Victim position, know they’re going through a difficult time but they don’t discount their own abilities to use their thinking and feeling to work out how to get their needs met appropriately. They know they can ask for help and if someone says ‘no’ to them, they themselves are still ok, not ‘bad’ because someone said ‘no’. They can ask for their needs to met by others. They are Vulnerable and they’re going through difficulties but they do not discount their ability to problem solve.
And problem solving is the key skill for the Vulnerable position. What resources do I have to get my needs met?
The Responsilble Position
Responsible people, like Rescuers, care about others. But Responsible people respect the abilities of others to think, feel and ask for their needs to be met. Responsible people take responsibility for their own feelings and needs, so unlike Rescuers, they don’t do things they’re not comfortable with. They are able to assert their own needs, so they can say no to people in a way that is honest and respectful to both sides. The key skill for Responsible people is to listen to others without solving their problems for them.
The Potent Position
But Potent people don’t do it at the expense of picking on others and putting them down.
Potent people use their energy to solve problems and not to punish, shame or belittle. The key skill here is in identifying what you need, and negotiating with others. If the other person won’t change, then using problem solving skills to get your needs met even though they won’t change.
The Drama Triangle and The Winner’s Triangle are two powerful tools to help with our glass-bottomed boat, looking at what goes on underneath the surface of human beings interacting with each other. They help us to be more actively aware of our thinking, feeling and behaving, so that we don’t have to go through our lives on a kind of emotional default setting, which we worked out without knowing it to survive the environments we grew up in.
[Have a look at my Lifejacket explanation in my About Counselling section.]