The empowerment triangle, developed by David Emerald gives groups a healthy way of working with scapegoating. It’s the alternative to the drama triangle that transforms the persecutor to challenger, persecutor to coach, and victim to creator. Way of seeing negative dynamics that makes it easier to work with.
In the drama triangle, the persecutor works with issues of power, the rescuer works with issues of responsibility, and the victim works with area of vulnerability:
Work the energy so that it’s a transformation. If you can work this in a group, then you’ve subdued the scapegoat archetype. Notion of the transformation shows how you work with what you’ve got and you aikido (Aikido is a movement from point a to point b) it into something more life affirming.
The most important thing about the drama triangle is to make people aware of it and how this is a kind of destructive pattern that somehow we all know inside ourselves. Uncouple that from our organizational and personal lives is the key. The personal part for me is: I find myself often in the role of rescuer, fighting for the underdog, and I couldn’t see the system for so long, I would only see what is in front of me. It was illuminating to feel what it was like when I started to be pulled in either of these roles. Group as a whole can embody a role to create safety and make sense of the system. If it takes the placeholder for the energy, then it looks for others to project the other energy’s on. For example, “it’s marketing’s fault” “its designs fault” “its Naropa’s fault”. Claiming your own archetype instead of falling into one.
Transformation from the drama to the redeemed starts with a pause, then an inquiry of what’s happening here, then a recall of the 3 roles and who is playing what role in this context, then throw in the question: “what else is possible?” “How can I become so centered that something new can happen? That some new perception can take place?”.
I once taught a workshop to a very sophisticated professional group of about 35 people in Brazil. I love the Brazilians for their expressiveness and culture. I had split this group into three subgroups and led them through the process of connection and chaos. As we were entering into the final session on creative evolution (which I also call consciousness), one of the groups exploded into conflict. These sophisticated and professional stars started throwing things, running out of the room, and cursing each other. They were as expressive as anything I’d ever seen. On the last day of training, I met with a conflict pair that was spitting insults at each other, and none of my interventions with this pair changed anything. So after all of my attempts, I told the pair “I quit,” and I really did step back into trusting the healing impulse.
Needing to complete the session, we moved ahead as planned with each of the groups doing their final presentation. The first and second groups went, and when it was time for the last group to go, the whole room could feel the mean vibes of their hatred for one another. One woman in the final group stood up to present, but instead of going forward with what the group had prepared, she started singing the word “connection” over and over to the tune of “Frère Jacques.” Her singing and movements were so loud and boisterous that they began to change the dynamic of the group’s energy. One at a time, she held out her hands to both of the members of the conflict pair, and they joined in, eventually inviting their whole subgroup and then the rest of the participants. By the end of the class, everyone in the room was singing and dancing and crying and laughing in connection. All of a sudden, the love in the room has been transformed and restored.
I had truly let go knowing I had done my best in the situation, and when nothing else had worked, the Brazilians will sing and dance. The moment when healing peaks through is the moment of new creation. This begins the next cycle and turning of the wheel in connection, chaos, and creative evolution. You can’t do anything to make it happen, but it’s always there. The more I remember it, the more I can offer myself to it.
Practice: Consider patterns in organization and what pattern they get captured by. What role am I in? What’s happening to me? How did I create this? How do I work with this? Start to see experiences not happening to me, but for me. How can we work together to create a new reality?
This is a preview excerpt from Mukara’s upcoming book, MatrixWorks: A Life Affirming Guide to Facilitation Mastery.