Control Dramas: The Poor Me

The first control drama I’d like to explore is the Poor Me. In this drama the individual will play the victim to get attention and energy from others.  They also induce feelings of guilt and responsibility. This is the most passive of all the control dramas.

Eeyore is the perfect example of a Poor Me. He is sad most of the time, no matter how cheerful his friends are. He finds fault in himself easily. He complains constantly. A dark rain cloud follows him wherever he goes! Despite his gloomy disposition it is obvious he enjoys the attention and company of the rest of the gang of Hundred Acre Woods. He’s also quite sweet and lovable (once you get past all the whining!).

I have a few close family members that fall under the Poor Me category. The moment I see them I can immediately feel myself losing energy. I usually leave their company feeling deflated, like a week old balloon. On more extreme encounters I will feel frustrated, even angry, as if I spent that time beating my head against a wall!

We can always tell when we enter the energy field of a Poor Me because we are immediately drawn into a particular kind of dialogue in which we are pulled off center. Out of the blue, we begin to feel guilty for no reason, as though we are being cast into that role by the other person. The individual might say, “Well, I expected you to call yesterday, but you never did,” or “I had all these bad things happen to me and you were nowhere to be found.” He might even add, “All these other bad things are about to happen to me, and you probably won’t be around then, either.” James Redfield

The Poor Me drama evolves due to a lack of support and nurturing at a young age. At some point in the individual’s past he likely experienced some form of trauma or neglect. Redfield writes,

To the Poor Me, the world is a place where people can’t be counted on to meet one’s needs for nurturing and well-being, and it is too scary a place to risk pursuing these needs directly or assertively. In the Poor Me’s world, the only reasonable way of acting is to bid for sympathy through guilt trips and perceived slights.

Unfortunately, because of the effect on the World of these unconscious beliefs and intentions, very often the same kind of, abusive people the Poor Me fears are exactly the ones that they allow into their lives. And the events that befall them are often traumatic. The universe responds by producing exactly the kind of world the person expects, and in this way, the drama is always circular and self validating. The Poor Me is caught unknowingly in a vicious trap.

The Poor Me strategy is fairly simple to identify, but how do we deal with a Poor Me without avoiding them altogether? Here are the best tips I have found, and they are directly from author of the Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield:

Dealing with the Poor Me

In dealing with the Poor Me, it is important to remind ourselves that the purpose of the drama is to win energy. We must begin with the willingness to consciously give the Poor Me energy as we talk with him; this is the fastest way to break the drama. (Sending energy is a precise process that we will discuss in Chapter 9.)

The next thing we must do is to consider whether the guilt trip is justified. Certainly, there will be plenty of cases in our lives when we should feel concern over having let someone down or sympathy for someone in a difficult situation. But these realities must be determined by us, not by someone else. Only we can decide to what extent and when we are responsible to help someone in need.

Once we have given the Poor Me energy and determined that we are facing a control drama in action, the next step is to name the game – that is, to make the control drama itself the topic of conversation.2 No unconscious game can be sustained if it is pulled into consciousness and placed on the table for discussion. This can be done with a statement such as, “You know, right now I feel as though you think I should feel guilty.”

Here we must be prepared to proceed with courage, because while we are seeking to deal honestly with the situation, the other person might interpret what we say as a rejection. In this case, the typical reaction might be “Oh, well, I knew you really didn’t like me.” In other cases, the person may feel insulted and angry. It is very important, in my opinion, to appeal to the person to listen and to continue the conversation. But this can only work if we are constantly giving this person the energy he wants during the conversation. Above all, we must persevere if we want the quality of the relationship to improve. In the best case, the person will hear what we are saying as we point out the drama and be able to open up to a higher state of self-awareness.

If you identify yourself with the Poor Me strategy fear not! Like any habit it can be changed! Awareness is the first step. The second step is making small positive changes, a little bit at a time. I recommend positive affirmations. I recite, read or write a positive affirmation on a daily basis. I leave myself positive messages on sticky notes, on calendars, on my fridge etc…This website offers daily positive messages and would be a great place to start if you feel you need an energy boost! The trick is learning to get energy from yourself and the Universe, rather than getting it from others. When you do this you will be amazed at how people respond to you! You will actually get more love and attention by taking care of yourself. Plus, your friends and family will no longer be acting out of guilt, but sheer love for you!

Affirmations for Love, Daily Affirmations

I also believe that eating right, exercising, watching less television, creating things, doing yoga, practicing meditation, and simply taking time to stop, be quiet and breathe can also make a world of difference when you’re feeling low on energy! The most important thing is to remember to love yourself and adopt an attitude of gratitude for all that you have! You are unique, wonderful and creative! Start acting like it!

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
Lao Tzu


5 responses to “Control Dramas: The Poor Me

  1. Kaycers,
    One remembers the characters on Saturday Night Live. Debbie Downer and The Whiners. It’s odd how people think they are displaying intellectual ability while emphasizing negativity. Human beings have the ability to eliminate negative thoughts. It requires effort but it is entirely possible.
    Thank you,

    • You are so right, Jerry, but I know I sometimes fall into the negative trap and I catch myself doing more often around my family members who use this control strategy. I sometimes wish I were stronger, but I realize I make that wish for their sake…as if I have the ability to help “fix” their energy problems. I’m learning to let go and just try to support them. I’m also learning to walk away when I catch myself enabling!

      Also, thank you for the mention of the SNL sketch. I love the good old days of SNL! Searching for one of those videos led me to this artcle, which I foudn somewhat fascinating. I hope I’m not an “evil do-gooder”!

  2. Kaycers,
    Perhaps simply speaking honestly, saying something like, “You deserve to be much happier” would start a good conversation. Perhaps it is not “coincidence” that we meet people. We could look at such occurrences as great opportunities to help a fellow brother or sister to experience more joy, more love. Then what is cool is that person then goes on to touch another in a good way, and they go on…
    As an example we may notice that the gal at the supermarket checkout seems a little down. We have the opportunity to say a few kind words, little effort whatsoever, and that will result in that gal’s spirit being lifted. God only knows how many people we will finally lift because of the ripple effect.
    Thank you,

  3. The more we encourage or give in to the “poor me” behavior of someone the more damage we do. As an insightful individual I feel responsible for being able to tell the difference between someone genuinely having a bad day, and someone who seems to have a bad day everyday. If we give in and empathize intensely these “poor me” characters not only continue this behavior, but do so without even realizing they are doing it. It is like you said “in their nature”. If they are never, for lack of better words, “called out” they may never even realize what they are doing and how it is affecting those around them. I think a lot of the time it is not an intentional behavior and they aren’t necessarily doing it to make the other person feel bad, but just to make themselves feel better. My mother was a “poor me”. I couldn’t take her to the grocery store without her telling the cashier about all of her problems…they would give her the “aww poor thing” she needed and she would instantly feel better. It is my acknowledgement of her behavior however that has made me feel the need to find the light in every situation versus allowing myself to wallow. I have become thankful for all I have and all that I don’t have. So yes I believe the poor me drama, just like all the others, is negative when taken to that certain level, but it has made me a better person and a more self aware person. I think we all have our differences and learning from each other is of such importance. All of the dramas have their place I guess.

  4. It’s funny, as “harmful” as these dramas can be, they are also so educational/revealing. I too grew up with a parent who was a poor me and it has made me a stronger person, I believe. It has also made me a person obsessed with doing things out of guilt…something I am slowly learning to recognize and let go of. At this stage I am learning to observe without judging myself. I stop and say, “he’s making you feel guilty, is this guilt deserved?” if the answer is no I tell myself to relax, breathe and find a way to communicate with the other person in a loving, open way. I also try to remind myself that if I don’t allow guilt to rule over me I’m much more fun, energetic and inspiring to myself and others. It’s worth all the work!

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