Let’s apply a theory about interaction between people to you and your procrastination tendencies. Just for fun. I’ll introduce you to the drama triangle – something that may be surprisingly familiar when you think about people you know. Mind you: you need only two people for a full triangle! Do you recognise any of these?
The drama triangle
The Karpman Drama Triangle models the connection between personal responsibility and power in conflicts, and the destructive and shifting roles people play:
- The Victim: The Victim’s stance is “Poor me!” The Victim feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed, and seems unable to make decisions, solve problems, take pleasure in life, or achieve insight. The Victim, if not being persecuted, will seek out a Persecutor and also a Rescuer who will save the day but also perpetuate the Victim’s negative feelings.
- The Rescuer: The rescuer’s line is “Let me help you.” A classic enabler, the Rescuer feels guilty if he/she doesn’t go to the rescue. Yet his/her rescuing has negative effects: It keeps the Victim dependent and gives the Victim permission to fail. The rewards derived from this rescue role are that the focus is taken off of the rescuer. When he/she focuses their energy on someone else, it enables them to ignore their own anxiety and issues. This rescue role is also very pivotal because their actual primary interest is really an avoidance of their own problems disguised as concern for the victim’s needs.
- The Persecutor: (a.k.a. Villain) The Persecutor insists, “It’s all your fault.” The Persecutor is controlling, blaming, critical, oppressive, angry, authoritative, rigid, and superior.
[This explanation is copied from Wikiedia, from its page on drama triangle -> a social model that was conceived by Stephen Karpman, a student studying under Eric Berne, the father of transactional analysis.]
A typical example could sound like this:
- Victim (helpless voice): I don’t know what to do
- Rescuer (energetic): I have some greate advice for you
- Persecuter 1 (blaming voice): Your advice doesn’t work for me
- Persecutor 2 (blaming voice): You just don’t want to be helped
- Persecutor turns to victim: I work so hard to help you and you just don’t appreciate it
- Former Victim turns Rescuer: It’s not you, my problems are very intricate
Two people, changing roles, a full traingle.
Transactional analysis is an intereaction model, meaning it describes how people may respond to each other. I’ll try it out as an introspection model now, to see how I may respond to myself:
- The Victim: For whatever reson, big or small, I feel victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed, or unable to make decisions/achieve insight/solve problems/take pleasure in life. When I give into “Poor me!”, the procrastination dynamic starts…
- The Rescuer: Procrastination to the rescue! ” Not doing something will feel like self care. Yet this rescuing has negative effects: It keeps the Victim dependent and gives the Victim permission to fail. The rewards derived from the procrastiation are that the focus is taken off of the the difficult feelings. It enables me to ignore what’s really going on, for example my own anxiety or other issues.
- The Persecutor: (a.k.a. Villain) The Persecutor insists, “It’s all your fault.” The Persecutor is controlling, blaming, critical, oppressive, angry, authoritative, rigid, and superior. In this case it’s trying to whip the Victim into productivity. (You may have met this person before in my earlier posts, then named the inner critic.)
Source https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADramTri.png By Cdw1952 (Own work) [Attribution, CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Tomorrow I’ll follow up with a post on how to deal with the procrastination drama. Simply pushing through is not the answer. Sometimes it might be. More often (and if you’re looking for a life that works for you) it’s helpful to address the actual thing that going on – and THEN get your thing(s) done.