I propose that we continue our talk about conflict, following the ”Conflicts – a good evil?” article
Let’s approach the theory of the three roles we keep playing in any relationship.
Those 3 roles are:
Being the Abuser doesn’t necessarily mean that one abuses physically or emotionally, but that there is someone who is a Master. They decide. They dictate the rules. They use the power.
The victim is the “study object” of the Abuser. They are defensive or with a passive-aggressive attitude. They obey the Master.
The Saviour – this is the most interesting role. Especially because it’s the role that can easily become the Victim.
How it happens: the Victim is aggressed. And when they can no longer resist, they either withdraw and pity themselves (like a true Victim), either become the Saviour and try to find a list of excuses for the Aggressor’s behavior.
The good part is that they are off the Victim’s status. At first glance, it can seem a good thing. Because, at the end of the day, they just encourage the Aggressor’s behavior. The one in that role will receive support and apologies. And they will learn to enjoy it. Therefore, next, they will push their aggressive behavior even more, until the Victim gives in to offer what the Aggressor needs and craves: apologies.
If you recognize this, it’s a good sign. I know this feeling. It has a bitter taste. But it’s an important step – the first. You became aware.
Now, you have to accept it! Let the guilt aside and all the attempts to understand why you are doing this. You don’t need to search further, I will explain it for you: you do this out of fear – of rejection, conflict or others. And you don’t have trust in yourself. You don’t love and respect yourself enough in order not to not tolerate the situation anymore. Ok, now that we settled this, let’s find some solutions. You already have the first two steps: admit/ become aware and accept it.
The third step: what benefits you get out of the Victim role? What do you win by playing it? But what about the role of Saviour?
I will offer you an example: most of the time, the Victim gets compassion. And the more the person gets it, the more the behavior will continue. You complain to your friends, family, colleagues etc. and they pity you. How do you feel? Understood, accepted, important.
Therefore, you maintain this role because it feeds your deep needs.
The Saviour role is even more interesting. What do you win out of saving the Aggressor and your relationship? You feel powerful, important, forgiving, tolerant and more.
Those are the roles. Even though you are aware of them and understand the reasons, it’s still hard to give up on them. Why? Because they satisfy important needs and values. Now, that you understand this, too, take a pen and a piece of paper and write it down: “How do I see myself in relationship with X?” and answer it.
What is the first step you feel you need to do in regards to that relationship? What about the second? Write some more. And don’t just write them; it would be a waste of time. Apply those steps!
And one more thing: you are not always the Victim or the Saviour. If you are truly honest to yourself, you will find, through your life experience, situation where you were (or still are) the Aggressor. Even against your best wishes.
No matter what role you are in, remember this: it’s not your whole being, but your EGO!
No matter what kind of conflict it is: family of work related, the same rule can be applied – due the imbalance of one or more of your values you can become either the roles.
Meaning, every time you find yourself being part of a conflict, ask yourself: what is the unbalanced value now? How it is manifested: too much, too little?
The others have no duty to make us feel good about ourselves. Each of us has to do it for themselves. And, as long as you have expectations for them, you will be disappointed. No one owes you anything and you don’t owe them something in return. Regarding your values, obviously.
Did you like this article? We discuss how personal or company-related situations can be resolved within the individual or team coaching program.