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We’ve all been in some sort of drama in our lives, haven’t we? Not necessarily pulling someone’s hair and scratching their face or fist-fighting in the middle of the conference room. But you get the gist, don’t you? At some point, we willingly or unwillingly got into conflict with someone else. It could be a small confrontation once upon a time or a grudge that’s been going on for ages, either way, we’ve been there. However, most often than not, we are unaware of our roles in the whole drama and how we affect our relationships with other people.

A psychologist by the name Stephen Karpman came up with a social model of human interaction, which maps conflicted or intense-dramatic relationships. He called it ‘The Drama Triangle’.

The Drama Triangle consists of three players: The victim, The Rescuer and The Prosecutor.

The Victim: The Victim’s stance is “Poor me!” or “why is this happening to me?” The Victim feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, Shameful, Guilty. The Victim sees life as happening to them and feels powerless to change their circumstances. Victims place blame on a Persecutor who can be a person or a situation. Feeling helpless, the victim seeks a rescuer to save them or solve their problems.

The Rescuer:The rescuer’s line is “Let me help you.” The rescuer is an Enabler, Pain reliever, takes the responsibility of others’ problems. They feel guilty when they don’t rescue someone else. He/she keeps the victim dependent on him to always help and save him. The rescuer focuses their energy in helping other people in order to ignore their own anxiety and issues and feel good about themselves.

The Persecutor: The Persecutor insists, “It’s all your fault” or“They’re wrong I’m right. They need to do as I say.”  The Persecutor is critical, oppressive, frustrated, angry, critical, controlling, superior, blaming.

Image Courtesy: https://www.susannejegge.com/en/2019/05/29/drama-triangle-part-2/

We, as human beings, tend to switch around the three different roles in our lives. Sometimes we’re the victims, sometimes we’re the rescuers and sometimes we’re the persecutors. Each one of us has a starting gate, which is the dominant role we play i.e when a conflict arises, there’s the role we automatically take. For example, when a misunderstanding happens at work, you could automatically start blaming the other person for the mistake, which makes you the persecutor. Maybe a little while later, when summoned by your boss to explain the conflict, you turn to be a victim. And in case there was a third party involved who was not at fault, you become a rescuer, you stand up for them and fight for them even when they didn’t ask you to.

Rescuers most of the time have low self-worth and they tend to take part in destructive helping i.e. they do what they don’t want to. They say yes when they mean no and they fix other people’s problems and feelings, sometimes even when not asked. Rescuers typically feel unlovable so they settle for being needed. Caretaking provides them with a temporary hit of good feelings, self-worth, and power.  However, caretaking is also martyrdom and people-pleasing behaviour (not healthy AT ALL!).

Sometimes, rescuers use religious beliefs to justify their destructive helping. Religion does encourage us to help people but not at the expense of our own destruction. A rescuer needs to understand that there’s a difference between supporting someone and rescuing them. All that is expected from us is to support people, be there for them without necessarily sacrificing ourselves or our own lives for the sake of other people. Caretaking breeds anger: Unsatisfied, frustrated, confused and this is because ultimately, you will get tired of trying to save everyone. And this frustration and exhaustion is what typically makes one turn to be a prosecutor; you start getting angry that people don’t appreciate you enough and that’s when the cliche lines comes in (when the one helped tells the rescuer): “Did I ask you to do this for me?” Or you feel hurt when people don’t reciprocate the amount of energy you invest in them which could turn you into a victim: “People always mistreat me or under-value me.” It is noted that self-destructive behaviours like chemical abuse, sexual and eating disorders are developed through the victim role.

Now on the flip side, we have ‘The Empowerment Dynamic’ (TED) which is made up of three roles that stand as antidotes to (or escapes from) the Drama Triangle Roles:
1. The Creator: (previous victim): In this case, the victim asks themselves questions like “what creative ways can I deal with this problem?” “what are my goals?” “what is my passion?” They take charge of their own lives and have self-awareness.
2. The Coach: (previous rescuer): In this case, the rescuer is no longer an enabler but a supporter. They listen and hold your hand, they support and they want you to be the best version of yourself.
3. The Challenger: (previous persecutor): In this case, the persecutor asks themself questions like “Don’t you think you’re doing this because you want this?” They challenge you to grow.

Image Courtesy: https://rosaliepuiman.com/drama-triangle-and-leadership/

How To Save Yourself From The Drama Triangle:

1. Being aware of the toxic patterns: “what am I seeking when I play out the victim/rescuer/persecutor role?” “Am I seeking attention? Do I crave love? Do I yearn for power? Am I trying to hide my insecurities? Am I helping people to run away from my own problems?”

2. Honest communication: Say exactly what you need or seek from the other person or what you’re feeling. e.g. If you feel insecure whenever your husband goes out with his friends during weekends, then tell him you feel insecure and need reassurance. If your wife wants to go on a trip with her friends and you think they’re a bad influence, talk to her about it instead of just trying to sabotage the trip. Save everyone the drama and the conflict. Silent treatment doesn’t do anyone any good. Honest communication goes a VERY long way in building better connections (It can be very difficult to really be vulnerable and speak your heart out, but that’s exactly what is needed for healthier relationships)

3. Say no when you want to say no.

4. Do the things YOU want to do, not to please other people, not to rescue someone, but because you literally want to do the thing.

5. Refuse to guess people’s needs/wants i.e. If someone hasn’t directly asked you for something don’t do it (of course it depends on the situation. If someone is stabbed, please help them without them asking?). Sometimes your intention could be to help yet end up making matters worse or spoon-feeding the victim who should stand up for themselves.

6. Insist that others ask you directly for what they want or need from you. i.e. when someone is telling you their problem, ask them nicely what they need from you or how you can support them (if you are in a position to help that is, if not, don’t kill yourself with guilt over it).

7. Refuse to assume others’ responsibilities. Refuse to rescue and refuse that other people rescue you. At the end of the day, each human being should deal with their own lives. Not unless someone is disabled or mentally challenged, very ill, or very elderly, (even this depends on context), don’t be anyone’s saviour or persecutor. If your child does wrong, let him/her face the consequences of their actions. Saving sometimes leads to more terrible damage than we intended.

I honestly believe we’ve all been here, but some more than others. Accept your mistakes, take charge of your life and work on being better, build better connections and have healthier relationships!

P.S. We see these triangles a lot in soap operas movies and shows, (fairy tales too!) but that is why they are called ‘drama series/shows’. They are NOT healthy and there’s nothing romantic about it! Drama makes a good book, a good show or movie, but it doesn’t make a good life. Let’s please leave those for entertainment only.


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I came across this video online of a lady cat-walking in a fashion parade when she suddenly trips on her heels and falls on her knees. Instead of the expected embarrassed look, the lady stayed on her knees and made a dramatic pose like she was on a photo-shoot then proceeded to the front of the stage on all fours while the crowd cheered on. She then picked herself and elegantly walked away. Now think for a moment, had this lady ran off to backstage or sheepishly continued cat-walking, wouldn’t the reaction of the crowd be totally different as well?

In any kind of situation, it is how we respond that makes all the difference. You are allowed to feel anger, disappointment, joy, fear or any other emotion. The problem often comes in with WHAT we do with those emotions. When over-joyed, do you go for a super shopping spree and empty your wallet or do you rationally treat yourself with something nice and affordable? When angry, do you break everything in your house or do you opt to go to the gym or go for a walk? When we have faced failure, do we give up on the thing we’ve been working on or do we pick ourselves and soldier on? Most often than not, we do not ponder on the consequences of our reactions.

It becomes a bigger problem when it is conflict involving other people and our responses blow up everything out of proportion. Have you ever thought of how many fights you would have avoided had you just responded differently?

Truth be told, having self-control is one of the biggest challenges for everyone. At the heat of the moment, we are careless with our words, our actions and our body language. We feel under attack and would do ANYTHING to win this battle.

Virginia Satir, a family therapist, identified four defensive communication styles that we will most probably relate to.

1. Placating: In this case, one disregards their own feelings and worth.They say yes to everything and are eager to please everyone involved. One would take the blame for everything and be very apologetic. They also tend to walk on eggshells in their communication with others, and they tend to preface what they are about to say before they say it in the hopes that what they say won’t be misconstrued.  They do this to cover all their bases in order to preempt a misunderstanding that could unintentionally cause someone to be disappointed or angry with them.  To avoid conflict, they give up their authentic voice and opinions just to be safe.

2. Blaming: To protect ourselves, we harass and blame others; sometimes due to our own guilt. Blamers tend to look for and see problems and fault in others, and they tend to boss others around and try to manipulate and control them. Blamers can often be quite narcissistic, and they believe that they are better than everyone else. They do not believe that they are accountable or at cause for any of the problems that they face in their lives. Instead, they see themselves as victims and believe that everyone else is to blame for everything that goes wrong in their lives. They would distort events that have taken place, and their distorted, revisionist memories often serve to protect their fragile egos and preserve their pristine sense of self.

3. Super Reasonable: Also known as computing. This method of communication is whereby one focuses only on the context and superficial communication. They do not allow themselves to fully experience the feelings. Being overly reasonable means functioning with respect to context only, most frequently at the level of data and logic.  They are intent on delivering responses that are dry, cool, and calculated, and they tend to keep their voices even and often make use of abstract language. These individuals are often prone to communicating in a computing style because they’ve often developed a fear regarding expressing their own emotions.

4. Irrelevant: Uses jokes or other distractions to avoid dealing with primary emotions. Those that use this style tend to be clownish or amusing. This is an attempt to distract people’s attention from the issue under discussion. They are known to say or do things that are irrelevant to the language and actions of others; they are not emotionally attuned to others, and they are therefore unable to hold space for others because they’re so disconnected from their own thoughts and feelings. When they speak, they are often prone to being tangential and  jump from one topic to another. 

All the above mentioned styles are unhealthy communication styles because they don’t really deal with the issue at hand in an appropriate manner. One more identified style by Satir is the one called Leveling.

With leveling, it is the healthiest communication style. In this mode, one expresses oneself in an assertive manner so that one’s language and behavior is direct, straightforward, and congruent with one’s honest and authentic self.

People who adopt the leveling approach express themselves in a way where there is harmony between their actions, words, tone of voice, and posture/gestures. They engage in active listening, are comfortable with silence, and are able to properly express themselves.

Levelers seek first to understand, then to be understood.  They also tend to value partnership, and they  look to create win-win scenarios when they’re talking to people. In this mode, one shares feelings rather than trying to conceal them and they try to be empathetic as possible.

It is without a doubt that how we choose to communicate and respond to situations deeply affects the course of our lives. Think about it, how many times have you over-reacted about meaningless things and it is because of your reaction that you ruined important relationships in your life? Or how many times you chose to be heard rather than win an argument and this effectively and positively impacted your relationships?

You should take note that non-verbal expressions like body language and facial expressions still count as communication and how you react, sometimes even without words, does impact the course of what seems like a tragic situation.

So, from the reading, what kind of style do you often use?!





5 Distinguishable Styles of Communication


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Dear Reader,

Did you know that effective communication is very effective?

Did you know that it does not make you any less of the man/woman you are?

That speaking out doesn’t make your pizza any less tastier?

That opening up does not make you lose any body-part?

That talking honestly does not reduce the balance you have in your bank account?

Yet importantly, did you know, that most problems are caused by lack of communication?

That a lot of problems could be avoided if we actually, literally, realistically, honestly and frankly TALKED?

So my mother has always been preaching about communication, “C.O.M.M.U.N.I.C.A.T.E! What do you lose when you do?” She’d say. I can almost hear her voice echoing the words 😀 But then isn’t this something that we should actually think about more deeply?

How many ugly scenarios can we avoid if we actually talk, open up, communicate? Most of the divorces, friendship break-ups, job loss, strained family relationships are because of miscommunication, or the entire lack of it, or the failure to understand what is being communicated.

So here are several scenarios:

I have some urgent work that should be submitted by this afternoon.  I am not getting any close to finishing it by that time. It is IMPOSSIBLE to have it in time even if I had these supernatural powers of superman. But there is a client waiting for it. They will probably get mad for your lateness. They will probably blow your phone with insults. It doesn’t make it much better informing them that there will be a delay. But there will be one difference; you prepared them in advance. You will have given them room to find another solution or alternative ways to deal with the situation. They might even be understanding enough to grant you some more hours to finish up what is required of you.

Your friend has messed up. It could be a small one or a big one doesn’t matter. So you decide it is best to just shut them out of your life. No explanation. No goodbyes. Not even a ‘You betrayed me’ note lol. For real though, how do you expect someone to know how badly they’ve wronged you if you don’t tell them so? Well, some things may be obvious. It could be an open mistake but then once you speak it out to them, you give them room to justify themselves. Okay maybe sometimes it is not worth it, but sometimes it is. Perhaps listening to them will give you a fresh new point of view that you never thought about. Perhaps, it was just a humanly slip. Perhaps they deserve another chance from you. Perhaps you may even decide to forgive them…how will you know if you have let your ego possess you and right now no one is more right than you?

So we are working on something, it’s team work. Obviously at some point you and I will have different opinions or thoughts. You tell me your thoughts and I realize they are different from my own thoughts. Instead of discussing it through like adults, I decide to frown silently and just go mute. Hallo?? This is called TEAM work for a reason. Each individual is supposed to bring something on the table. Misunderstandings, differences are most probably going to happen. It’s almost an obvious thing. But do you discuss it out maturely or does each individual grump silently and let the work get messed up??

You heard something about me, or something I said about you. You heard ‘rumours’, you heard ‘grapevine’ as we call it but you never bother confirm the information with me. You never inquire if it is true, if it is accurate, if there is probably a sensible justification behind it.

These scenarios are too many, they could fill up my entire website. Main point is, always try to talk it out; in fact, it should be without any persuasion. You had a bad day and it ruined your mood? Tell your husband so. Don’t let him keep guessing what he did in the past twenty four hours that could have ruined your moods. You don’t like what I am saying? Tell me so, in a kind way. Tell me your thoughts. We don’t always have to have the ‘right answer’ or the ‘winner’. We can still be friends with different opinions. Can’t make it to the event or you just don’t want to attend? Stop beating about the bush and be honest. You don’t like someone’s behaviour? Advise them, in a good way. You can’t pay up the debt in time? Excuse yourself before your time is due instead of switching off your phone and ignoring someone’s texts.Will be absent at work? Call at work early enough and avoid any inconveniences.

I mean, don’t people understand the value of words. How when used kindly and appropriately, we could be a better world right now? Imagine if we opted for peace reconciliations rather than war? If we opted for what-went-wrong discussions rather than divorce? If we decided to be honest about what we feel about someone or their actions or their words? Just think about it. What if you decided to go sit with your mother, whom you are always in a fight with, and directly ask her what doesn’t she like in you or what could possibly be so wrong in your behaviour? Or what if you approached your cousin and cleared the air from the grudge you two have been holding for years on?? What if you were honest that you are still in bed rather than lie to someone who’s been waiting for you for two hours already? Don’t you think telling them in advance would save them some heat and maybe they’d find a place to use their time more effectively while waiting for you? (Hallo there late-comers 😀 )

It’s true that sometimes talking it out may not bring out any results but maybe it is worth the try?? Don’t allow your ego to stop you from reaching out to other people and straightening things with them. Just give it a try…after that, whatever happens, will not be upon you anymore for you’d have played your part.

Speaking out doesn’t necessarily mean blurting your thoughts out like diarrhea or being rude and arrogant. It just means you need to be straight forward; about your thoughts, feelings, opinions…you never have to make anyone keep guessing because they already know, if so and so had a problem with me, they’d have approached me about it. It keeps you on the clear. It keeps you away from avoidable misunderstandings and grudges. It makes you honest. It grants you a peace of mind. Sooo…talk it out maybe??

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Every word, every sound you make has great weight more than you can perceive. It’s like they have gravity in the air and a slip of the tongue could cost you your life. It is precisely why I don’t believe in ‘We are friends, remember? No please. No thank you. No sorry.’ In fact being a friend should give you more reason to say thank you, sorry and please. For I very well know the importance of these words. I know the impact they can make in another’s life. I know what it means like to be appreciated, being empathized or given your due respect. And most of all, I know what it feels like to know you are loved.

Unfortunately, this is where most of us go wrong. The assumptions we keep making about our loved ones, ‘ah, my mother loves me so much she will eventually forgive me’ or ‘He is my best friend, he won’t mind if I took this from him. I will inform him later.’ But these are the same kind of things that end up breaking people apart. The idea that someone will just understand you even without explaining yourself. It may be true; some people may understand your unsaid words, but have you ever thought of their unsaid words? That maybe your best friend didn’t really like it when you took his money without requesting for it? That maybe he just can’t face you and tell you that he needed it for something else? Or the fact that your mother was so deeply alarmed by your words yet you just assumed she will forgive you? Have you ever considered what it feels for her to forgive you even without you apologizing? As much as you may think that nothing may really go wrong when you are free with someone, do keep in mind that there is something called ‘long term frustrations.’ The more you take someone else’s emotions for granted, the more the pain builds up in them. However little the pain may be, it slowly keeps growing, whether it is in days, months or even years but it keeps building up and in the end comes that big fight that messes up everything created in years. It is in such situations that you may hear of two best friends or very close friends, or even family members who just stopped communicating for mysterious reasons. This is why; the fault in our communication.

I really admire people who speak out exactly what they feel about the second party; in fact I don’t mind being confronted with the truth someone has to say to me so long as they do it in a matured manner. This is because I really value my relationships with everyone and I would do anything to ensure they are only getting better. I’ve heard dear people call me names and such, but as much as I hurt I never hate them for what they say to me and about me. They are just showing me, the ME from their point of view and it is totally okay if their point of view is negative because you can’t really please everyone in the world. Nonetheless, they make me scrutinize myself more and want to rectify myself where necessary so that my relationship with them only gets better.

However, we have those who can’t really open up and it is upon you to think and feel for them. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how it would be for you in such and such a situation. You don’t really have to be overly empathetic to understand anyone, you just need to act like a human being who has a soul. So without being reminded, remember to use the simple words like ‘please, sorry and thank you.’ Remember to think of other people’s emotions before yourself but yet still; without forgetting yourself entirely. Always remember to communicate!

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Language is one of the most important aspects of life and without it, communication would have been impossible. With every generation, new vocabularies arose and a different language that they alone could understand. The youth always preferred a way to communicate among themselves that the elders wouldn’t get to ever know what they talked about. Maybe that is why, ‘lugha za mitaani’ never seized to grow. Just when the older generations caught up with the youth, they would purposely change into newly formed vocabularies. We had the ‘sheng’ that really threatened the official languages in school whereby students started applying it in their compositions and insha and even made it their commonly used language. Sheng really affected what could be called ‘pure English’ or ‘Kiswahili fasihi’.

Yet still, generations never seized to come up with new forms of language. Another one was the reversed way of talking whereby words are read backwards. Anita became ‘Atina’ and Amina became ‘Anima’ and much more of that. Apart from that, there are those who added the‘t’ and ‘r’ syllables in every word they said. ‘Wataka nini’ was said as ‘waratarakara niriniri?’ or ‘wewe njoo hapa’ became ‘werewere njoro harapara’. I remember how my classmates at high school would talk like that and so fast and it would practically take me some minutes before ever understanding what they were talking about. So when they laughed, I would be among the last ones to laugh when the joke was already stale; since I was slow in understanding their language.

With all that still, the most interesting way of talking was the direct translation one. It is very amazing how people quickly got to find shortcuts for themselves in language. I remember one time hearing a primary school student exclaiming ‘My mother parent!’ and it actually took me a minute before I understood that what she meant was the Kiswahili exclamation of ‘mamangu mzazi!’ When you ask them they say, we are supposed not to dare talk Kiswahili at school unless during Kiswahili lesson so they opted for direct translation. But what is even worse is that even the honorable people in the society have been caught doing the same. Without pointing fingers, one member of the parliament said ‘I am eyes’ to mean ‘niko macho’ when caught asleep in the parliament.

The youth actually find it fun to be talking in the direct translation form and well, I have to admit that it is quite interesting how fast they think. ‘Mum is scratching the coconut’ to mean ‘mama yuwakuna nazi’ Another example is how a boy was telling his teacher ‘my dad pulls the cigarette’ to mean ‘yuwavuta sigara’ but that’s not the end of it; they can actually write you an entire composition doing the same.

The most recent one and most widely spread is the internet language. Teachers have been made to cancel a lot of words in examination papers due to the effect of internet language. Words like ‘LOL’ for ‘laugh out loud’ ‘btw’ for ‘by the way’ tnx’ for ‘thanks’ among many others is what has made youths apparently ‘lazy’ in writing with correct spellings and proper language.

Well, it may be funny but the effect of it all is what is seen in the compositions and examination papers and students tend to fail miserably for such reasons. It is important that students know how to differentiate what is play time and when it is time to get serious with studies and