Risk & Business Magazine California Risk & Business Magazine Summer 2017 | Page 17

FEATURE STORY I t was time to make the call this writer had been dreading. Not because my friend wasn’t knowledgeable about the topic at hand—the preferred destination of a daughter’s college trip abroad—but because she was so good at playing the victim. And after so many years of playing the rescuer, I knew the friendship had become difficult to sustain. Let’s call my friend Vicki, as in Vicki-the-Victim. “Hi Vicki,” I started. “How are things going?” I asked innocently enough. “Just trying to survive,” she responded wearily. It was the same old story about the same old difficulties. Vicki had immigrated to the United States in her early twenties, leaving behind the country soon to be the destination of my daughter’s trip. For years— decades really—Vicki had claimed to be unable to get a job because of her foreign accent and inability to speak English fluently, and as a result, was living in near poverty and struggling. Vicki began her tale of woe once again, and I listened patiently and volunteered my well-worn advice— take an English class, move to a less expensive home, accept a position she thought was beneath her—before finally asking Vicki which city she’d recommend for my daughter’s stay in her home country. Perhaps we all have a Vicki in our lives or have acted as one ourselves, but there are proven ways to escape a life devoid of the optimism and joy that every person deserves. For those who want to commit to change, or suggest change to a friend, reading The Power of TED * by David Emerald is a great place to start. Unrelated to the popular TED Talks series (but coined long before them), Emerald’s TED * is an acronym for The Empowerment Dynamic, a self-empowerment model that describes how to build a better life by escaping the victimhood mentality and converting to a more productive “creator” way of thinking. THE CREATION OF TED Emerald—whose full name is David Emerald Womeldorff—developed his TED * model to resurrect his own spirit following a series of personal set backs, including the loss of his father, the discovery of his infertility, and the dissolution of his first marriage. He even applied TED * to his personal crusade against the destructive potential of his diabetes diagnosis, which he chronicles in his book TED for Diabetes, cowritten with Scott Conard, MD. While wallowing in despair one morning during his period of reflection, or “quiet time,” Emerald pointedly made the decision to relinquish his victimhood in return for becoming a “creator.” It was an “utterly unexpected personal epiphany,” he says, that would transform his mission in life from that point forward to help himself and others participate in life from a vantage point of strength. Based on research developed by the psychotherapist Stephen Karpman, MD, in the 1960s, Emerald’s TED * describes how the destructive roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer can be reconstructed into the more dynamic roles of Creator, Challenger, and Coach (See Figure 1 on page 19). Karpman’s research described the “drama triangle,” which “models the connection between personal responsibility and power in conflicts, and the destructive and shifting roles people play.” These were the ideas that Emerald sought to challenge. In his own example of despair, Emerald was able to realize that he had been living his life through the eyes of a victim, wondering why everything bad had happened to him. As he explains in his book, the Victim feels as though other people or situations are acting upon the Victim who feels powerless to change them. The Persecutor is the cause of the Victim’s woes, while the Rescuer intervenes to save the Victim. Victims, according to Emerald, operate from a position of fear or weakness, reacting to difficult situations by learning to fight, flee, or freeze. The Victim may become pessimistic in life, always expecting another disappointment to emerge right around the corner. The Persecutor, on the other hand, has the mentality that he or she must win rather than risk stumbling and becoming a Victim. Meanwhile, the Rescuer is determined to assist others lest becoming unneeded and also falling into the role of Victim. CHOOSING POSITIVITY From this dysfunctional model, Emerald drew up a new model that he called The Empowerment Dynamic, which allows all three points of the “drama triangle” to experience growth and maturity in overcoming adverse situations. Under the TED * paradigm, the Victim transitions into the role of Creator, seeking to choose a future of hope and resiliency rather than one that is trapped in misfortune and does not allow for change. The Persecutor evolves from a mindset of domination to one of self-awareness and empowerment (the Challenger). And the Rescuer no longer must save others, but as a Coach, can simply encourage them and provide positive > 17