Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Roles are Holes

Role playing is hard work. Have you ever noticed that?

Take a moment to observe how you interact with other people. You may detect changes in your attitude, behavior, and speech depending on who you are interacting with. When you talk to a child, or when you talk to a server in a restaurant, do you speak differently? How about when you talk to your boss or when you talk to the janitor? When you walk into a store or the post office or the department of motor vehicles you may act differently than when you walk into your home or attend your kid's ballgame.

Why is that? Well, simple... you are playing roles. You are becoming the person you think you should be in that situation. Your mind has developed an idea about how you should behave in the situation. In that case, you are NOT being yourself.

Playing Your Roles

So, you might have just had the thought, "of course I act differently in different situations". You can't act like a teacher when you are a customer in the store. You can't act like you're the owner of the business when you're just an employee. You can't act like a project manager when you're the CEO. You can't act like a child when you're the parent. Of course we act differently in different situations.

Really? Why is that? Think about it. In each of these instances, why can't you just be you? Why do you have to 'act' at all? Where do these expectations come from? (The Good Fairy or the Dark Fairy? - to repeat a phrase we discussed in a previous newsletter.)

Many times you completely forget about your intrinsic nature, your being, because you are so focused on your extrinsic nature. How often do you see yourself as a 'human doing'? You have this image or concept that your mind has created (or accepted) about how you should act in each specific situation in your life.

If you live in America or another free country, you should appreciate the freedom that you have to choose. You no longer live within a "class system". In civilizations where liberty is not a birthright, certain functions are allotted to certain people. You are a 'born' ruler, priest, warrior, farmer, craftsman, laborer, merchant, and so on. In a free country, your function in this world, which would have been a matter of your birth, does not have to be your role.

Your Role Holes

Today social structures are less rigid and less clearly defined. Yet, you still create these roles in your own mind and firmly place yourself into them. What do these roles look like? Your roles can fall into a number of categories:

  • Functions: As we've discussed, the role you choose can be based on the functions you fulfill. You can be a parent, a child, a sibling, a leader, a follower, etc.
  • Beliefs & Values: The role you choose can be based on your beliefs... your religion, your political affiliations, the causes you support. You may be a Christian, Hindu, Muslim, etc. Or a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent. Or an animal rights activist, MADD member, 'green' supporter.
  • Emotional: Happiness and "Just Fine", are roles that you may play. You hide behind a smiling, positive fa├žade, while truly you feel discouraged, frustrated, or disappointed.
  • Circumstances: You can find yourself playing the hero or the villain... the lover or the fighter... the victor or the victim.

In all of these instances, you are defining yourself through a role... putting yourself in a hole that limits your 'being'. Your "role hole" is the pit that limits your intrinsic (infinite) nature.

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