Episode 10-Getting Off the Triangle

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How do you get out of the vicious cycle of fear once you’re trapped in it? How can we better our relationships by getting off the triangle? How do we deal with past hurts and become a less fearful person?

In this episode, Nathan and Aaron answer these questions and discuss how you can escape the relentless Fear Triangle. They talk about a couple of practical strategies to keep in mind and practice. Most importantly, they offer so much hope and advice from their own experiences!

In This Podcast


  • Review of the Fear Triangle and what it looks like to be on it
  • The common shame response to escaping the Triangle
  • Boundaries and Compassion, and the sacrifices of each role
  • The role of vulnerability and responsibility in healing

Review of the Triangle

  • The Fear Triangle is a loop people often find themselves in as a result of deep-rooted fear
  • There are three roles, or corners, of the Triangle: Persecutor, Rescuer, and Victim
  • People enter the Triangle in order to protect themselves, escape responsibility, and to avoid vulnerability and intimacy

The Shame Response

  • Once you realize your location on the Triangle and see how often you’re on it, it can be frustrating and cause shame – which is a normal response!
  • The goal is to work to avoid getting onto the Triangle or be on it as little as possible
  • Although it’s a difficult pill to swallow, once we know ourselves and our relationship to the Fear Triangle, there are many useful applications
  • Avoiding the problem makes it worse; once we accept the fear and move beyond the shame, we can deal with it much better

Boundaries and Compassion

  • A balance between boundaries and compassion brings vulnerability
  • A “Fear Statement” is very useful for any role. It allows you to understand and reason with your fear
  • Persecutors:
    • Sacrifice compassion for boundaries
    • Need to let down their walls and be open with others
    • Need to focus less on themselves and more on others
    • Need to learn that not everyone wants to hurt you and having too many boundaries can hurt the relationship
  • Rescuers:
    • Sacrifice boundaries for compassion
    • Need to be able to say no and realize that having boundaries doesn’t mean you’re being mean and won’t compromise your relationships
    • Often need to be more direct and honest. Otherwise, they will be broken down by constantly sacrificing themselves for the other person
  • Victims:
    • Overly focused on themselves, even if negatively (e.g., “I’m so awful!”)
    • Accept their constructed worthlessness

Vulnerability and Responsibility

  • Vulnerability is achieved when we balance boundaries (being open and direct with your desires) and compassion (sacrificing yourself for others and valuing their needs)
  • We need to realize our relationship with vulnerability and responsibility in order to improve ourselves
  • Things don’t always go perfectly. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see instant success!

Useful Links

Thanks for Listening!

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Meet Nathan & Aaron

Nathan Hawkins and Aaron Potratz are both licensed therapists and clinical supervisors in the state of Oregon. They each own their own private group counseling practices and co-own a third group practice together. Nathan and Aaron have been in the field since 2004 and 2007, respectively, and have over 100,000 hours of therapy experience each. On their show, they discuss facing fears and common challenges from a therapist’s point of view, imparting wisdom and humanity to their viewers. Along the way, they hope to not only share their insights but bring some light-hearted entertainment to make the journey easier.

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