We have an image in our mind about how something should be, how we expect it to be, wether it is a person, a behavior, a scene, an issue, an opinion etc., and what we experience turns out to be very different in reality. There is a gap between our expectation, our mental image and reality. When this happens – and I’m sure you will agree with me, it happens quite often – we have a conflict.
Now what exactly is this conflict, that tends to cause so many problems in our lives? What is it made of? – Well, conflict is nothing else, but pure energy. It is the energy that builds up from us experiencing a gap between our expectations and reality. Energy in and of itself, however, is neither positive, nor negative. It is a force, the quality of which will depend on how it is channelled, what it is used for. So consequently, conflict can be positive or negative, depending on how we navigate the energy within.
But what influences how we experience and navigate this energy? We ourselves influence that. We, the participants of any given conflict have the choice to either allow the energy of the conflict to be negative, destructive, often even toxic to our health and relationships, or we can turn it into something constructive, something valuable that ends up serving us and the relationship with the conflict partner in the long run. However, we only have a choice when understand our options and are able to make a decision, and for that to happen we need to be free. Free of the constraints of the roles the drama triangle (S. Karpman) defines for us. Free of feeling like a victim, of wanting to save the other person or being the one who judges and condemns. And this is where things start getting complicated.
Most of us – if not all of us, but some may not yet have enough awareness to accept this – are often acting from one of the three Drama Roles Steven Karpman defines so precisely in his famous model the Drama Triangle:
When we are acting from one of these roles during a conflict, the energy of that conflict will inevitably be negative because we have no freedom of choice. In all 3 corners of the Drama Triangle we are stuck in a role without control over our thoughts, emotions and behavior. We often are not even aware of the role we take. It is a nasty and destructive phenomenon that creeps into our relations over time and slowly but surely poisons them one by one. Wether at the workplace or at home, conflicts with drama will create long term problems within relationships.
The only way to avoid this is to increase self-awareness and find out which role you tend to take. Here are some useful links to learn more about this model and where you are with it: