The roles we play….

3rd January 2012

If you ask yourself who you are, a good way to understand the question is to consider what roles you take on in your life. What does that mean? Well, for a start look at someone who has  parents, a job and a partner. Part of their identity is son or daughter, another is the job they have (for example a manager or teacher), and another is husband or wife. Each of these roles or identities brings with it certain expectations around behaviour, values, and perception. Some of these expectations are culturally specific, some are personal to our circumstances, and others are determined by the environment in which we live and work. Through these expectations – which we both accept from others and create for ourselves (whether consciously or unconsciously) – we take on roles and use these roles to live and learn through our experiences.

Is there anything wrong or untoward about this process of taking on roles? Well, no there is not. However, when we experience a crisis in our life or deep unhappiness, it is common for people to start to look at who they are and how they behave in relationship to themselves and others. It is through this process of self-examination that we can start to look at and understand what roles we are playing in our lives. And in playing a part we are often unconsciously trying to fulfil a deep need in ourselves – for example, to be a man means behaving in a certain way, or to be safe means living in a particular way. Another good example is where someone has had a dysfunctional childhood and this has affected the type of relationships that they have as an adult, both with a partner and with friends and colleagues. The role of the critical or distant parent is taken on by a partner or a manager, and the person cannot see that they are repeating a learnt pattern because that is their unconscious expectation.  Stepping outside of ourselves creates the opportunity to see and understand these roles, and in  so doing we have the opportunity to be more conscious of how we live.

In a previous post I wrote about dreams, and how they are interpreted through archetypes of consciousness. In the roles that we take on, there is the quality of the archetype and we can experiment with different archetypes in the course of our lifetime: child; adult; son; father; mother; teacher; master; nurturer; healer; victim; and so on.



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