July 7, 2015

TrishBits #11: The Trap of Triangulation

Here’s your Coach’s advice: Stop Complaining. It’ll truly get you nowhere.

Is somebody or something driving you crazy? How’re you handling that? If you’re like most of us, you find somebody to complain to about it – before you explode! It actually releases tension to ‘vent,’ and so we do it. But – venting is a trap. It’ll keep you stuck.

Here’s why: Finding a friend (or a helpless ‘underling’) to vent to actually releases just enough tension to maintain the status quo. Family Systems people call this, “triangulation.” Imagine that you and your crazy-making person are two points on an ‘axis’ that is fraught with tension. The theory is that if you go complaining, perhaps to your spouse, then you bring in a third point to make a triangle, and the whole system stabilizes (unhappily, but there you have it…).

Here’s your coach’s advice: Stop Complaining. It’ll truly get you nowhere.

You basically have 3 options when you’re dealing with a difficult person, and they’re not mutually exclusive:

  1. Love what is. This is Byron Katie’s advice. Tolerate the tension, learn the lesson that the universe is offering you, and let go of your ideas of how other people should behave.
  2. Do the work to change the relationship. Come clean, be assertive, change the pattern, or stop being a control freak – whatever you need to work on, do the work.
  3. Let go of the relationship. Sometimes, it’s the kindest thing to do, for yourself and for others.

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