Sunday, March 13, 2011

Circles and Triangles

The second I hear the "circle of life" I think of the song in The Lion King and it starts rolling around in my head.  It's a circle we are all familiar with, life and death.  But there is a circle in life that I wasn't even aware of.  One day in therapy my therapist said that we all need to "recuperate" and I said, "what?"  I had been telling her that I was so tired and found myself just sitting and watching tv a lot lately and how guilty I felt about that.  That is when she said that I was probably tired and needed to recuperate.

I honestly had never thought about having a need to recuperate.  I just did and did and did.  I especially had a problem with pushing and pushing through things regardless of how much energy I had left.  So needless to say this was a completely new concept for me.  She shared with me the circle we each follow to take better care of ourselves, most people just do it automatically without even thinking about it.  It goes like this: 

1 - Homeostasis - balance, restful state
2 - Impulse - desire to do something (earn money at a job, create something, etc.)
3 - Action - moving on the impulse (going to work, working on a project, etc.)
4 - Recuperation - taking time to rest your body and mind from your action
5 - Reintegration - activity or thoughts getting back into your life

Learning about this circle was huge for me, understanding that in order to complete it we need to follow through with recuperation, then getting back into our life and the restful state of homeostasis.  I realized I had only been going through phases 2 and 3, impulse and action, impulse and action, never giving myself a chance to recuperate and keep moving around the circle.  No wonder I was exhausted.

What was even bigger for me was when I discovered the triangle, more specifically the co-dependent triangle.  The co-dependent cycle is a triangle of three steps that happen over and over again.  I first read about this triangle in Co-Dependent No More by Melodie Beattie.  It is called the "Karpman Drama Triangle."  When I read about this cycle I could see my life flashing before my eyes.  I could see every single triangle that I had done in my life, the big triangles and the little triangles.

Here are the steps in the Karpman Drama Triangle:

1.  Rescue/caretaking - rescue someone we believe is not capable of taking care of themselves.

2.  Persecution/resentful - We become resentful and angry at the person we have helped, we've done something we didn't want to do, we've done something that wasn't our responsibility to do, we've ignored our own needs, and we get angry about it.

3.  Victim - feelings of helplessness, hurt, sorrow, shame and self-pity abound.  We have been used again.  We have gone unappreciated.

Unlike the circle which is very beneficial for our emotions and bodies, this triangle is very self-destructive.  It has taken awhile, but I have learned how to stop a triangle cycle and have learned how to complete a circle cycle. 

In the triangle cycle, when I am feeling resentment, then I know that I am in a co-dependent triangle and stop what I am doing.  I have also come to notice when I start a "rescue" and can immediately stop things before I move further into that triangle.  I have learned to notice when I am exhausted and understand that I have been in the action phase of the circle and know that I need to allow myself to move to the next phase which is recuperation and move forward to again reach homeostasis.

I have found that as I properly follow the circle I have more energy emotionally and physically.  Additionally I'm a much happier person as I shut down the triangles, even better if I don't start the triangles at all. 

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