Melanie Landau

Leaving Slavery: The Freedom of a New Response

When we are a slave we don’t have agency or autonomy over our lives. It is hard to access our own capacity as creators. 

In any given situation when we have our full intelligence available to us there is a myriad of creative ways to respond to every single situation. On individual and collective levels. 

The “Drama Triangle ” was coined by Stephen. B. Karpman in 1986 and describes a negative dynamic between people in conflict where roles of perpetrator, victim and rescuer are continually exchanged between people in a conflict. The effect of this dynamic is that people often feel entrenched in their positions but no change actually happens. The way out of the triangle is to not be inferior or superior to anyone and to take responsibility for looking after one’s own boundaries.

We can not control another person. But what we can do is clear ourselves more and more to be able to access the greatest freedom we can  in order to respond creatively in given situations. At times we are also constrained by collective oppressions as well as intergenerational loyalties which are all very challenging to get untangled from. The experience is SO personal. But it also is not. 

If we take an X-ray into the workings of our system. One of the main things that stop us accessing our great intelligences in moments of stress and trigger and unfortunately sometimes in general, is that we have certain core wounds that get triggered in a given situation— as well as a general sometimes chronic feeling of unsafety. This has several consequences:

  1. We can be in a constant state of activation and hyper vigilance. Our system doesn’t relax. This puts huge pressure on our physical health as well. Compromising our adrenals and our immunity against disease. Wearing our system out. This can continue in a negative loop when we don’t learn how to look after ourselves and create the correct boundaries so that we can be as relaxed as possible. 
  1. The more we can create a baseline safety in our system it enables us to interrupt a trigger and do the fine differentiation between noticing a trigger as well as staying in the present and seeing a fuller picture of reality in addition to the trigger.  In order to that we need to look after ourselves in the present and really attune to what our needs are and learn how we can meet them.
  1. When we don’t manage to differentiate between the trigger and the present and navigate how to soothe and hold ourselves in the present we actually ADD to the trigger. In our system, when we don’t differentiate between the trigger and the present it is AS IF the thing is happening. 
  1. We can not think our way out of this. It’s a body job. BUT, if we have enough safety in our system it does enable us to have more agility and independence in our mind. Our mind can help us rather than being the puppet of the trigger.
  1. A  helpful image of an activated mind is like having the finger on the panic button non stop. Once the system gets more relaxed and unwound then we only need to press the panic button when we need to and it’s not stuck in position. 
  1. It’s not just that we need to relax our system, it’s that we need to use this relaxed system to dialogue with triggers as they come up. It’s like building a deep muscle and new pathway.  The similar triggers and situations will SURELY keep on arising. The GOOD thing about this is that we get a chance to keep working this muscle. It’s a practice. It’s also like an inner discipline but not activated by will alone. 
  1. We need to invest in supporting our system, body and emotional state, to be able to respond in more flexible ways. 
  1. The problem is that when we stay in the cycle, we well as taxing our system as explained above, we also recreate drama and enmity and disharmony with the people around us in the present. We can get into a range of confusing dynamics which further entrenches our patterns. 

It’s a great freedom to be in a familiar situation and to respond in a new way. (That is Maimonides’ description of repentance- to find ourselves in the same situation when we sinned and not to sin.) 

Change is possible. Slowly but surely. 

It’s an evolving spiral. We fall back but new possibilities emerge. 

This is our splitting of the sea.

It seems impossible. But it’s not.

Moving forward in prayer and gentleness. 

Freedom goes with taking full responsibility for ourselves and our reactions to things we can’t control. 

We make mistakes. We start again. In this trajectory of responsibility.

Chag Sameach 

About the Author
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Rabba Dr Melanie Landau has 20 years of experience in guiding individuals and groups in transformative processes.and cultivating the sacred. She is committed to the creativity and vitality of a living breathing expansive Torah. She is a couples therapist, empowerment coach and group facilitator. She can be reached on:
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