Resolving Conflict – Breaking Free from the Drama Triangle

By Val Boyko • December 27th, 2010

This is a re-post to help everyone who wants to break free of mother and family conflict right now. (I hope you are reading this Bro) Tis the button season after all…. and buttons and conflict go hand in hand!

A good friend asked me  “How can we end the drama triangle? It’s draining everyone, yet everyone is so set in their ways!” Once we recognize that we are in the drama triangle and want to step beyond it once and for all, what can we do?

Here’s where we can start:

  • Remember it’s up to us. The first thing is to realize that it is up to us. We can only control ourselves, not others. So if we want it to end then we need to take on the responsibility for our part and be prepared to act differently. Ask yourself: How have I contributed to this? What can I do differently?

  • Step back. Make an objective assessment of the situation. Make observations rather than evaluations based on our interpretations and judgments of others’ roles. By stepping back, we can then bring empathy for each of the people in the drama.


  • Find common ground. For example, agree that we are a family; we love each other; we push each others buttons sometimes; things gets out of hand when we drink too much; we want to find a way to get on better and prevent these upsets occurring in the future.

  • Let go of your role. Gary Harper in “The Joy of Conflict Resolution” writes: “To eliminate villains from our conflicts we must be prepared to give up being a victim ( and the sympathy and apparent safety the role offers). We also need to relinquish the mantle of the hero (and the self righteousness that accompanies this role.”

To give up our victim role we must take responsibility for our feelings, speak our truth without blaming or complaining and identify the problem to be discussed and resolved.

If we are being seen as the villain, then we need to let go of our need to be right and be willing to relinquish our need for control. Most villains are given that label because they are perceived as trying to control. No one likes to be controlled, so the first thing is to relinquish your control.

  • Focus on the problem that everyone acknowledges exists. Come together in agreement.  Let the villain be the problem to be resolved, not the people stuck in the drama.

  • Be the hero in a new way –  by exhibiting the hero’s courage to raise the issue rather than attack, and enter into the uncomfortable place where conflict resides.

  • Share your story – your point of view and your feelings in an empathetic truthful way and let others share their side. Listen for understanding. (Rather than justification or to put forward the winning argument).

Val’s Comment: Trust is the foundation of all good relationships. With openness and understanding, trust can be rebuilt. Communicating with kindness rather than judgment will lead to better relationships. Give up your role and give it a try. It isn’t easy, but there’s so much to gain.



Breaking Free From the Drama Triangle was spot on. With the family we’ve done the first three steps and started a dialogue that has been healing. The big steps are ahead when we all get together. Thanks for the guidance. Mother Whisperers is really about all relationships.

Hey Tisha, I’m so happy that opening up a new way of communicating is starting some healing for you. You are right – this works for all relationships, not just with our mothers! It’s a journey worth traveling.

Excellent article and excellent blog! The mother-daughter relationship is a forever imprint, even after our moms have passed. So what could be more precious than to understand this relationship, cherish it, learn from it. Lorraine

Thank you for your insights Val,

Have you read David Emerald’s book, The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)? It is a little book with a big message, an actual escape from the drama triangle.

It is all in a change of perspective from that of a victim reacting to problems to that of a creator, someone who focuses on desired outcomes. I have had such wonderful results with both my daughter and mother.

Check out his website at

Thank you Lorraine for all your support and ongoing kindness! 🙂

Hi Kathy, Thanks for the book recommendation. I haven’t read it mysefl, but I do like your site. I would encourage all of us wanting to find ways to break through the Drama Triangle to check it out. cheers, Val

Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

Hi Kathy
I am glad to hear you have had wonderful results with your mother and daughter using the concepts from the Power of TED.
Would you be willing to share them with us? Marlene

We are glad you enjoyed the site and appreciate your sharing it with some friends.
We look forward to having you continue to be part of our community.

Nice site, nice and easy on the eyes and great content too.

Sorry for the delay Marlene,

I would love to share our successes and challenges with you. Where to start?!

I broke free of the drama triangle but my family didn’t want to. They wanted to continue and increased their roles towards me when I didn’t play. They got worse and worse towards me, the more even and balanced I got. I simply felt calm and good on the inside. Things got so bad that I had to leave my family. I always remained calm and they hated that.

Angie, Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s so good that you found that peaceful place inside of you. Your comment brings to light how we can only control ourselves, and not others behaviors towards us. I wonder if your family didn’t know any other way to relate or show their “love”….what legacy did they inherit from their own family(?) It sounds like you have broken the chain of dram and conflict. I’m sorry that the cost was so high for you.


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