INTRO: Hello and welcome to The Storyteller's Mission with Zena Dell Lowe, a podcast for artists and storytellers about changing the world for the better through story.
RECAP: On the last episode, I talked about one particular thing that you can do to start taking radical action in your life and being honest. And all it was was Karpman's triangle where we feel victimized, which causes resentment. So, we traveled to the next corner of the triangle, and now we lash out. We become a perpetrator. We abuse somebody else, but then we feel bad about it. And so now we travel along the bottom of the triangle, and we get to the other corner. And now we want to rescue that other person and try to make up for it by being nice. And then the other person, of course, doesn't respond to your manipulative behavior. So now we feel resentful again. Which causes us to travel back up to the top of the triangle, where we feel victimized again. And now we're in the cycle and we just keep going and going and going forever.
And so the question was raised, how do you get off the triangle? And the answer is, you take personal responsibility. Okay, so taking personal responsibility is the very first thing that you can do to take radical action in the new year. And I challenged you to do that. Just take personal responsibility. Just own your stuff. Just tell the truth about what you need to do, or what you did wrong, that sort of thing.
TOPIC INTRODUCTION: So ask yourself, are you honest? Are you being honest in your personal relationships? Are you telling people the truth about how you feel? Let me add that when I say you tell the truth, I don't mean what we hear that phrase, right. It's the brutal truth. Brutal honesty is just another way to abuse. It's just you're putting a pretty little cover on it and trying to make it look more noble than it is. So there's no such thing as brutal honesty. It's just brutal.
So, if that's the case, then what are you supposed to do? Well, again, I'm going to share with you another lovely phrase from recovery. "Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean."
"Hey, you're a really attractive person, I'd you know, hey, I'd like to take you out to dinner." "Oh, thank you. That's very nice of you. I'm not interested. But I appreciate the offer." How hard is that? And yet, so many women don't know how to do that.
Just tell the truth. Anytime you don't tell the truth, it leads to damage. You are not fixing anything. We have this tendency to think that all the truth is too hard to hear. Oh, it's too hard to hear.
There are even movies that promote this idea, right? I hated the Batman movie, where at the end of the day, he decides to take on the persona of the villain for the good of the people, because the people were too weak, to be able to tell the difference or to be able to hear the truth. He was protecting them by being the lie. That's a terrible message. Terrible. And it's a victimization oriented thing.
PRESENTATION: When we take personal responsibility, we tell the truth in all situations. So another way that I see this happening a lot is when instead of telling the truth and being honest and being willing to engage—see, that's the thing. People avoid the pain, the uncomfortable pain of telling the truth. They just avoid it. They don't want to deal with it. But it's a very selfish state. It's a very selfish thing to do. But they're uncomfortable. So they avoid it by doing something that's become very common.
They ghost. Or they cut people off. Or they just disappear. They block them on Facebook or social media or you block them in your phone. They just make it so that the other person can't ever reach them. How cruel is that? And how selfish. Ghosting is the ultimate coward's weapon. Accusing somebody of wrong behavior and then cutting them off and preventing them from having any way to engage with you and try to discuss that openly is a coward's move.
My mom used to say the silent treatment is the cruelest form of communication. And it's true. If you give people the silent treatment, even if you're a husband and a wife and you're at home or you have kids or whatever, and they do something wrong, and you give them the silent treatment, you're not only cruel, but you're a coward.
We have to actually address it. Most people cut off other people prematurely without even giving them that opportunity. But it's because of their own arrogance, pride, feelings of discomfort or just their selfishness and unwillingness to deal with the other person's emotions. Because they're so arrogant, they don't think the other person's emotions are as important as their own. What a horrible message to send somebody else.
Now, it might be true that you have too much going on, and that you can't deal with somebody else's emotions at that time, in which case, you say it that way. You say, "Listen, your feelings are important. I understand how you feel this way. I am not in a position—I don't have the emotional capacity right now to adequately respond to this or address this. I have to take care of some things for myself first. But I will get back to this when I'm a little further along. I want you to know I hear you, I see you. And I'll get back to it. I'm just not in a place right now where I can handle it."
That's fair. Now you're practicing good self care. And you're communicating honestly. And clearly. You're not just telling the other person, "Your feelings are stupid and invalid. Mine are more important. And how dare you have emotions right now, when I'm clearly going through so much." Because we all have to take our personal responsibility. Even if we're being victimized.
By the way, I should add one thing, if you're a child who was molested or something like that, you took no responsibility. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about as an adult, as an adult, in adult relationships, okay. I'm not talking about when you're a kid, and you're being abused. You had no responsibility. You bear no guilt in that. Or even if you're an adult, and you get raped. You don't bear any guilt in that.
You only though, have responsibility with how you're going to respond to it. How you're going to respond to that. And that's what I'm talking about. So don't misunderstand me. Some of these things can be taken out of context. And I don't mean to say that.
But in this case, your responsibility, if you're in a relationship, or a series of relationships, where you're chronically being devalued, and dismissed and discarded, then your personal responsibility is to not allow that sort of abusive pattern to continue, in which case, you may have to temporarily suspend the relationship.
And I say temporarily suspend because I really believe that only in rare cases should you completely sever a relationship. It needs to be of the most heinous abusive caliber. And the other person needs to demonstrate no ability or willingness to repent. Only on rare occasions is permanent severance, a good idea.
I say temporary, because what you're always looking for—and this is part of the truth of being a Christian. And this is part of how we should take radical action and be honest. We all fall short. We all fail. And so what we want to have in our lives is a willingness to forgive, a willingness to extend grace. Assuming that certain criteria are met, like a willingness to repent, and a willingness to take personal responsibility.
If a person is able to do those two things, then there is a capacity for reconciliation in that relationship. If the person isn't willing to do those two things, then there's still a breach in the relationship at which point the relationship can't be restored. But the minute the other person demonstrates a willingness to repent and own their actions, then I think as Christians, there should always be that willingness, that openness, for restored relationship.
So the invitation is always there. But it is dependent on the other person's demonstrations that would warrant them worthy of being invited back into relationship. And that's why we have to have judgment. That's why we have to have discernment to know whether or not it is manipulative behavior, or is it a true demonstration of repentance? Are they bearing fruit in keeping with repentance? Are they trying to make it right? Are they seeking to understand? Or are they blame shifting? Are they justifying?
And by the way, there's a difference between a person trying to give context for their actions, and a person trying to justify their actions. We all have context. We shouldn't misunderstand those things. There have been times where I've done something wrong, but in the context, you can kind of understand why I've done it. It doesn't mean I'm trying to say that what I did wasn't wrong. It was, but if you look at it in this context, you can sort of see how I came to do that, without just determining that I'm a complete piece of crap. "Oh, oh, I see. So it was sort of, you know, following a pattern of trauma reenactment, and this is what you were really after."
And so it's about revealing and tracing the psychological chain of events. That doesn't mean that the action wasn't wrong at the end of the day, but rather that you're trying to understand how you got there in the first place, so that you can make a different decision. You can arrest the cycle at an earlier point in the process. My point is, we need to take some radical actions in our personal relationships. We need to be telling the truth in our personal relationships. We need to stop being on Karpman's triangle—seeing ourselves as victims, acting out, lashing out, feeling entitled to act out against other people and perpetrating them. We need to stop rescuing the other people. We need to stop trying to make up for it without owning our actions.
See, how we actually, quote "rescue" or make up for it is step off the triangle and own our behavior and apologize for it. We take personal responsibility. And that's not manipulative, but anything that isn't that, is a manipulative attempt to try to get a person to perform how we want them to perform. But people aren't monkeys. They don't perform like trained monkeys at a circus. And so we shouldn't try to make them. That's wrong. That's bad for us to do.
And so how do we do that? We stop trying to control other people by stepping off the triangle and taking personal responsibility, telling the truth about how we feel, telling the truth about what we did. If we did something wrong, owning it. Don't hide it. Don't try to sweep it under the rug, or pretend that it didn't happen or justify it or explain it away. Own it, own it, own it. That is a radical thing.
If the church just did that, and nothing else, if that is all we did, it would be radical. But unfortunately, you have to have courage to do it. And most of us are obedient cowards.
And by the way, we're obeying our sin nature when we're on the triangle. We're obedient cowards to our sin nature, our tendency to want to hide our sin. And that's always and forever what we want to do. We want others to think that we're good and holy, and we want them to see us as being wonderful people, and we want to hide our sin. We don't want to see us for who we really are. So we hide it, and we justify it and we blame others for our actions. And that is being a slave to our sin nature.
So we stop being a slave to our sin nature, when we take ownership. We admit, and we repent. So this is how we can be courageous and take radical action. Recovery is not for the weak. Telling the truth is not for the weak. Self-care is not for the weak. You have to be willing to face the pain, the uncomfortable pain of doing those things.
And also of sticking to our guns. Instead of letting the other person wiggle back in or sweeping it under the rug, we stick to our guns. We wait. We have to wait until a true demonstration of repentance has happened. So that true Shalom can be reached. Too often, we allow people to come back in prematurely, because it's uncomfortable for us to keep them out or to temporarily suspend the relationship.
We have to be bold. We have to be dangerous. Dangerous people can exercise restraint. Dangerous people can have the other person railing against us and telling us how we are the problem. And we did it wrong. And we should do this. And we caused this. A dangerous person doesn't defend in that situation. They take action in the form of radical self-care, where they don't continue to expose themselves to that abuse. And then they stick to their guns until something changes.
And if it doesn't change, then you don't do anything different. It's always just a willingness, a willingness to accept reconciliation, an attitude of willingness.
CONCLUSION: So these are just a couple of ways where I see us really failing in our personal lives and they're so related to everything that we're talking about in story. They just are. They just are. Especially If you think about what a hero has to be like, right? And how a hero has to demonstrate true repentance too. But if you don't know what that looks like in your own life, when other people do it or when you do it yourself, you certainly aren't going to be able to manifest that in a story with your hero.
And if you don't know what villainous tactics are in real life by people that are gaslighting you or manipulating you, or abusing you, or you abusing and victimizing them, and lashing out and doing all those things, and then trying to rescue—that is all villainous behavior to a certain degree. And if you're not able to recognize that in yourself, then how on earth are you going to accurately reflect that in your story? This is where we have to be amateur psychologists. We have to understand ourselves as humans. We have to be in touch with our own sin nature, know what we're capable of, and then take radical action. Take radical action to do something different so we can be healthier as human people. And so we can write stronger and better and deeper stories that actually have the power to change the world for the better.
Okay, I hope that this has been helpful for you. I know that I'm talking about things that probably seem a little outside of our realm, but they're really not. They're really not. They're right up in there. And it's important.
CALL TO ACTION: If you could make this a goal for yourself for the new year, if everybody made this one of their New Year's resolutions, to tell the truth, to say what you mean, mean what you say. And don't say it mean. It would be huge. It would be huge. It would change your life. It will give you freedom that you never knew existed. It will give you peace. It will help you walk in shalom. It will help you have good self-care, self-love in the right way, not the entitled way. It will prevent you from falling into victimization mode where you're going to hurt others. And instead it will teach you personal responsibility.
And guess what, you'll feel better about yourself because people who take personal responsibility have hope. Victims don't. You will change your life if you just implement this as your New Year's resolution. So I encourage you to do that.
Alright, if you enjoyed this podcast, may I ask you to please rate and review the show on Apple podcasts or the podcast of your choice? Or of course on YouTube where you can now watch the show. And would you also share it and subscribe? Subscribe to the show and share it with somebody. Share it with somebody who you think needs to hear these things.
OUTRO: I want to thank you so much for joining me on The Storyteller's Mission with Zena Dell Lowe. May you go forth inspired to change the world for the better through story.