Last Man Standing

Which role do we normally play in our lives? Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim? How do we feel when playing such role(s)? More importantly, how do we know when is enough is enough?

In my previous article, “Sow a Seed”, I outlined what counselling is about and what is my ultimate goal for my clients – be their own counsellors, for the similar challenges and obstacles that they may face in the future. I will be expanding some of the themes covered in “Sow a Seed” in the following articles.

Let’s begin by highlighting the roles of Persecutor, Rescuer and Victim. Roles that we may unconsciously or, dare I say it, deliberately play.


The Drama Triangle

So, who are the Persecutor, Rescuer and Victim? What are some of their traits? And how are they intertwined?

Persecutors are typically “colour blind”. Everything to them is only black or white; no shades of grey in-between. They believe they are always right, as caused by a strong or false sense of self-entitlement. Their “righteousness” is in fact, possibly a cover-up of their anger, insecurity and vulnerability.

To be accepted and recognised, Rescuers tend to appease others at the expense of meeting their own needs and wants. They may even have difficulties in identifying their requests and desires. The enormous guilt of saying “no”, stops them expressing how actually they want to be treated.

Victims usually discount their abilities and resources, thus making themselves feel powerless and stuck. To them, life is always hard and unfair. They may even believe that they are the ones attracting misfortunes. A victim-mentality helps them to have “reasons” in coping with life’s sufferings.

This unique 3-way relationship is also known as The Drama Triangle, a model created by Dr Stephen Karpman, within the framework of Transactional Analysis.

We sure are complex, aren’t we?

Here is a quick and simplified summary of the three roles.

Do any of these traits remind you of someone in your life? Or do you identify with these descriptions as well?

The truth is, most of us are, unknowingly, Persecutors, Rescuers and Victims, one time or another.


You Need To Be You

Remember, we usually have a choice. We can lead a more balanced, healthier and happier life we were meant to live. We do not have to be a Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim. Our authentic self does not need to play any of these additional roles.

To be our authentic self, I believe we need to have three “Selves in place:

(1) Self-Awareness

Be mindful of the roles we are playing. Always make time for self-reflection, observing ourselves objectively and fairly. Learn to be conscious of what we are doing to ourselves and others.

(2) Self-Compassion

Accept that we are perfectly imperfect, always a “work-in-progress”. We should love ourselves more, but not to the point of self-indulgence that is harmful to ourselves and others.

(3) Self-Concept

Truly identify and understand what and who we are. We need to be aware of our genuine needs, wants, requests and desires deep within. This is so that we clearly know what to do with ourselves.

This self-discovery process may take a long time. However, with professional leading and guidance, it can be shortened during the process for gaining some realizations, awareness, consciousness and insights about ourselves.

During the process, we should focus on incremental changes rather than an absolute change. In my experience, I have noticed that the positive impact on my clients of an evolution (gradual development or changes over some time) tend to be much more lasting and greater, as compared to a revolution (sudden, complete, or radical change).

So, what other roles should we play, if it is not Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim?

May I suggest, be a Survivor. Let us get healed and gain the capacity and capability for being our own counsellor, ready to face those similar stressors and troubles in life!

Survivor = Be Our Own Counsellor = Last Man Standing

Instead of Last Man Standing,

it’ll be Last Man Smiling.

John Currin

Note: The word “man” used in this article refers to all genders and other demographical profiles of all individuals.




This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 7 Nov 2021.