Susan Dunlop: Lead Believe Create

Our TED*™ Creator Essence

This is the second last blog of the series focused on the topic of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ that I started in January. Today, we’re exploring our TED*™ (*The Empowerment Dynamic) Creator Essence!

If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, I have shared links to all of them at the bottom of this post.

Recap – If you know this section from last week’s read, you can scroll down to begin at the section titled The Good News!
The Drama Triangle is a model of roles we human beings default to in times of stress.

It was a model developed by Dr Stephen Karpman in the 1960s. In the work I deliver it has been re-termed the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT™), with the permission of Dr Karpman, by the Center for The Empowerment Dynamic’s founder, David Emerald. David liked the idea of it being DDT™, because of the toxic nature of these roles at play.

In 2018, I was introduced to the healthy, empowering antidote roles to the DDT™, that of The Empowerment Dynamic (TED*)™, a model developed by David Emerald.

David is the best-selling author of The Power of TED*™. In 2021 I became Australia’s first certified facilitator in David’s work. Now I deliver training programs to organisational leaders, teams and individual coaching clients across Australasia and the Asia-Pacific.

The DDT™ is a triangle of toxic roles we all default to in times of stress and drama.

The roles are closely related to our reactive state. As a survivor of childhood trauma, that’s where I first connected the dots. You’ll likely have heard of the fight, flight, freeze and appease (or fawn) reaction? The DDT™ roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer can be tied back to those reactions, that most often originated for us in childhood.

What I came to understand years later, after childhood, and all the adult roles I’ve played in life, is that these default roles stay with us until we recognise them, and break the cycle of drama reactivity.

The DDT™ is not bad, it’s just what it is. The part that’s not good is if we stay stuck in these roles as our way of operating daily – that’s an unhealthy place to come from in terms of our relationship with ourselves, with those we love and whom we relate to daily.

The Good News!

The good news or empowering news is that within us we have what is termed our Creator Essence: not roles but who we are at our core. TED*™ (*The Empowerment Dynamic) triangle was created by David Emerald to show us alternative ways of operating in life and at work. Instead of playing the Victim role we get to be the Creator; the Persecutor role becomes the Challenger; and the Rescuer role becomes the Coach.

TED* The Empowerment Dynamic Triangle by David Emerald

These three TED*™ roles are described below in an easy-to-read format.

Once you read over them, you’ll likely remember hearing, feeling or experiencing them in action, possibly by you and also by others. If you can’t envisage these as easily as the DDT™ roles, it’s okay; they take conscious effort, and quite possibly, you’ve not been surrounded by others who comfortably live by TED*™ yet.

Last week I gave tips on how begin the shift towards a better way of showing up each day. This week I’m sharing how you can Deepen the Shift.

When Victims* take responsibility for their thoughts and actions, they become Creators. Their focus is on desired outcomes and continuous learning. They let go of the need to have it all figured out. They move forward, one Baby Step at a time. Creators know they can choose their response to life’s challenges.

Sounds like:

‘What do I most care about?’ ‘How do I choose to respond?’ ‘What is the outcome I want, given the current reality?’ ‘What is the next step I will take?’

Feels like:
  • Hopeful, resilient and resourceful
  • Inspired and connected to the desired outcome
  • Takes responsibility for the desired outcome
  • Uses Baby Steps to learn and chooses their response to life’s challenges
Deepen the Shift:
  • Learn to be with uncomfortable feelings, rather than resisting them
  • Nurture self-compassion, taking time for reflection and creating what you want
  • Reframe ‘problems’ into opportunities and desired outcomes

*In the work as a TED*™ facilitator, I clarify every time we speak of Victim, that the Victim is the key role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™. However, it is not referring to a Victim of abuse, or natural disaster; it is referring to the state of Victimhood one can adopt and live by.


Challengers are catalysts for learning and are willing to stand for the vision, even when others do not. Challengers have a knack for letting go of the details and staying focused on the desired outcome. They often shake things up and are sometimes called the ‘truth-tellers’. Challengers go to the heart of the matter, often delivering facts, while inspiring themselves and others to reach for the highest good.

Sounds like:

‘Your (our) actions are not consistent with our values.’ ‘You (we) can learn from this experience.’

  • Compassion for self and others (as learning is often uncomfortable)
  • Stays motivated by remaining focused on values and desired outcomes
  • Calls for ‘the best’ in others as Creators
  • Holds self and others accountable for continuous learning and growth
Deepen the Shift:
  • Develop self-awareness in the moment, learning to pause and reflect
  • Readily discern the intention behind your own challenging behaviour

A Rescuer shifts to the Coach when they hold others as Creators. Unlike a Rescuer, who reinforces the powerlessness of a Victim by being overly helpful and pleasing, a Coach uses the art of inquiry, curiosity, and deep listening to support others in discovering what is best for themselves. A Coach sees others as ultimately resourceful and resilient.

Sounds like:

‘What is working that you can build upon?’

‘What is one Baby Step that is yours to do in this situation?’

  • Supportive while ‘non-attached’ to the outcome of others
  • Is supportive and encouraging as others get into action via Baby Steps
  • Asks powerful and direct questions to clarify outcomes
  • Partners with others to determine incremental (Baby Step) actions
  • Uses positive reinforcement and encouragement
Deepen the Shift:
  • Deepen your own commitment and responsibility for self-care
  • Let go of the subtle need for approval
  • Expand your personal presence and the art of inquiry
In conclusion, I usually tell my class participants to give themselves the gift of space and grace to begin again.

When the DDT™ hits, we can hit the pause button, take three deep breaths, and say ‘I can do this over. I am going to try again’. You can say it out loud to other TED*™ participants; they’ll smile and give you that space and grace, too. This work is wonderful when you do it with others, so you get to practice it together and learn the language of personal empowerment.

All humans want to grow and change, and ‘do-overs’ encourage learning. Whatever our focus and desire, we can give ourselves the gift of space and grace.

If you’d like to learn more about the programs available in this work, please message me via the Contact Form – follow this link.

Take care,


I look forward to sharing the final blog of the series next week – our DDT™ personas.  In the meantime, you are welcome to explore my previous posts for a more comprehensive understanding:

  1. Breaking Down the Karpman Drama Triangle: Understanding the Roles we Default to in Stress.
  2. Understanding Our Childhood Response to Fear and the Dreaded Drama Triangle.
  3. The DDT™ Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer Roles.

As I mentioned above, I am a certified TED*™ (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™ facilitator, and share this content here under licence, with permission of The Center for The Empowerment Dynamic © 2021. All rights are reserved.

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