When you were growing up what role or roles were you cast in? Parents, siblings and even people themselves, often assign roles depending on factors such as: where in the pecking order you came, what natural abilities emerged and what personality traits were exhibited from an early age. This means that if you were the oldest you could be ‘The Boss’ or the youngest ‘Mr Irresponsible’ , if you showed musical talent you were the ‘The Musical One’ and if you constantly got in trouble at home or school you may have been called ‘The Wild One’.
The list is endless and we may even have had different roles in different contexts, being ‘The Good One’ at home, ‘The Chatterbox’ at school and the ‘Pushover’ with our friends.
The question, though, is what affect did those roles have on your sense of identity and how are they still playing out now in your life?
It is obvious that those who were endlessly labelled ‘difficult’, ‘troublesome’, ‘slow’ or ‘lazy’ may eventually accept these labels and begin to behave accordingly. This is something I now call ‘Labelism’.
As one boy said to me ‘I have always been called stupid so it must be true’. For some they would decide that they would be the best at being the worst! ‘If I’m bad, then I’ll be the best at being bad!’
This may lead to low self-esteem and low self-confidence, forcing us to continuously compare ourselves unfavourably with other people or an imaginary ‘perfect’ self. It also becomes harder to accept compliments and positive comments as they do not fit with the negative model the person has of themselves.
Interestingly, you may think that only the negative roles would have had a negative impact. Not so. Positive roles put enormous pressure on a person. You can’t always be ‘The Bright One’ or ‘The Good One’. In order to try and sustain our ‘positive image’, more and more needs to be achieved, nothing ever feels good enough and fear of being found out that we are less than prefect can cause huge anxiety and stress.
Exercise: Reflect on what comments you would have often heard when you were growing up. Now think of how those comments made you feel about yourself. What emotions are still evoked when you think about what you heard then? Now think of any roles that you are still acting from. Do they really represent who you truly are or are they causing you stress? Do you feel like the struggle to maintain that role is too hard or stopping you from following what your heart really tells you?
So, what can you do about it? Lots!! For starters you can begin to think about how you are a multifaceted person with no one role as being the ‘real’ you. No role is intrinsically right or wrong and we have allroles available to us. The question is when is the role right to play out and when is a better role more suited? The ‘Boss’ role is great when you’re in a position where you need to take charge but no so great when it is wiser to take a back seat. The ‘Lazy’ role can be positive when time is needed to rest and reflect rather than ‘do’. You get the idea.
If you are interested in exploring your ‘roles’ in life and how you can transform them into a positive force why not book a session and see how your life can be changed for the better.