Shed off your typecast… Play a new role in your life!

We unconsciously a sign ourselves repeatedly to play the same roles in life. Take a moment to think about how many roles you might play.....

We are born into certain roles …  those of brother, sister, parent, student, women, man, Christian, Muslim or Sikh, cancer survivor, our ethnicity and nationally.

Then there are the roles that we take on because we have a choice …. wife, husband, friend, lover, team mate, entrepreneur Football fan, Emo, neighbour, our job title, blogger.

Then there are the roles in life that we take on personally that shape our identify .... the joker, the victim, the optimist, the daredevil, the villain, the superhero, the caretaker, the warrior, the scapegoat or troublemaker.

Our earliest experiences start to shape our identity. Our personalities emerge as a result of mirroring what we see and how we respond to what is happening. We learn responses and coping strategies to deal with life’s stressors and everyday challenges. What were the identities that you developed in your class at school or in your family? What was the purpose of your role? We all play roles and these roles contribute to the identity of the system as a whole.

Our roles greatly influence how we see ourselves in relation to other people. Other people can reflect back to us who we are like a mirror. Which is why when in a period of isolation we can lose our sense of self as we have nobody around us to reflect back. Which is why if a person is bullied or criticised over a period of time it can impact self esteem and they start to believe what others are saying about them. We all have an inner voice that is often critical, telling us what to do how we ought to behave or what we should say. Our critical voice can prevent us from taking risks or trying new things. We can also project our critical voice onto others perceiving them as critical.

So how do you go about creating a new improved version of yourself? An updated model that has been cleared of previous negative, distorted, outdated or faulty thinking?

It’s good to start off asking what purpose playing a particular role has served you & your wider system? Sometimes you may need the help of a professional to help you discover this. It can also be useful to think about your natural personality traits. What are your strengths and key skills? How do you play to your strengths?

Dr Kirsten Neff spent years studying authenticity and how we go about developing a self concept. She believes that we should stop chasing self esteem and start developing self compassion. Instead of mercilessly judging and criticising yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. It is feeling good about ourselves, without feeling we have to be better than others.  Self compassion is made up of self kindness, mindfulness and humility. Self kindness combats the critical voice.  Self care ensures that we nurture ourselves on a daily basis. Mindfulness allows us to sit with our thoughts and feelings without judging or criticising. It helps us to see that we are not our thoughts. Finally humility teaches us that suffering and making mistakes is all part of the human condition.

So what role would you like to play in your life? Making your new role a reality happens only when you focus on it, when you visualise yourself in the new role and when you work daily on moving towards it.

Anna had been working for an organisation for about two years. She was recently promoted into a managerial role, requiring her to manage both staff and volunteers, take on more of a strategic & influencing role. The identity that Anna had within her organisation was one of being a solid reliable team player. Through a series of coaching session I was able to support her in making the best impression in her new role. This required a new identity. She needed to change the way she viewed herself at work which in turn would influence how other people view to her. Through exploration in the coaching sessions Anna was able to explore her strengths, learning preferences and core values. She identified both short term and longer term goals. Coaching allowed her to explore new perspectives before refining her role as a manager.

Unless we are given the opportunity to explore our identities how can we possibly change them? So if you want to explore the possibility of playing a different role in life … get in touch to see if coaching is right for you.