There’s something special about sharing a pot of tea with friends. It fosters connection, authenticity, and deep conversations.
Today, I want to share a conversation to help you reflect on the roles you play in your life.
On our recent trip to Israel, my husband and I visited a couple we’ve been friends with for years. We enjoyed a front-row seat to the most beautiful sunset on their balcony. I still remember how vibrant the colors were. The four of us reminisced over a pot of tea. It was just like old times until they told us, “It’s over. We’ve decided to drop the roles we’ve been playing.”
My hands got sweaty, and I almost shattered my teacup on the patio. What did they mean? Dropping what roles?!
“Oh, don’t worry, we’re still happily married,” the wife said. “But we’re dropping the roles that no longer serve us.”
The husband explained that his upcoming birthday prompted him to message to his family group chat. “For my birthday gift to myself, I’m resigning from my role as the big brother,” he wrote. He told his family he would no longer take responsibility for everyone else’s troubles or play the role of “the fixer.”
Similarly, the wife used a recent holiday meal as an opportunity to tell her family that she would no longer be the planner, scheduler, cook, AND entertainer of future gatherings as she had for many years.
She and her husband agreed they would continue to host dinners at their house. However, she would be turning the roles she used to play over to her adult children. She announced that they were now in charge of planning, cooking, serving, and cleaning up the meals. In this way, she was able to embrace a more relaxed role by “passing the torch” to the younger generation.
Dropping old roles to step into authentic roles where we choose who we want to be inspired a new intention for my own family.
When my children became young adults and got married, I knew I would have to take more of a “back seat” in their lives. Even though they will always be my “babies,” they are grown and no longer need me in the front seat. I’m now intentional about honoring their growth and creating new ways of sharing closeness and connection. I go into detail about this in my blog, The Mother’s Guide to Growing Up with Your Adult Children.
My daughter’s wedding was the perfect opportunity for me to drop the roles I was playing.
I could have easily defaulted to the role of “event planner” or the “always in charge” mom. By using mindfulness and the self-healing tools I teach, I was able to drop those roles-most of the time-and show up as the person I chose to be…
- the relaxed guest (letting the wedding planner do their job)
- the wedding panel’s participant (instead of the wedding panel’s leader)
- the present mom (instead of the fixer and the always in charge mom)
Who are you behind the mask of the role you’re playing?
You were born as your authentic, genuine self. However, if you experienced trauma in your childhood, you might have learned to adopt different roles to keep you safe from an early age. If you experienced trauma in your teens or adult years, you might have taken on a role to protect yourself then. Either way, the role you play becomes your identity.
What role have you been playing?
While other people often see the roles we play clearly, they can be harder for us to see. We tend to take on different roles without being aware of it: sometimes, we need help to look into the mirror. Part of my life’s work is helping women shed the automatic roles they assume and find the power to choose who they want to be.
The Most Common Roles Women Play:
The Saver of Humanity
The Desperate Housewife
The Soccer Mom
The Helicopter Mom
The Lone Wolf
The Wounded Healer
The Perfect One
The Responsible Adult
The Control Freak
Choose the role that stands out the most to you from the list above and get curious. Reflect on the writing prompts below (with zero judgment) and let your answers flow.
- When did you learn to play this role?
- Why do you still need this role?
- How does it serve you to play this role?
- What are the negative consequences of playing this role?
- What would your life look like if you stopped playing this role?
- What is a new role you’d like to step into?
Get centered and shift your awareness from the outer world to your inner world. Visualize yourself walking in a beautiful place in nature. Give yourself a few minutes to ground yourself and feel supported by the earth. Visualize yourself seeing a house in front of you.
When you enter the house, you notice a long hallway with two doors. You’re curious and excited as you walk closer. Reconnect with one role you play and want to drop. Stop at the left door. There is a sign on the door with your name and the title of that role. Walk through the door and give yourself a few minutes to observe your life as you play this role.
What does it look like when you play this role in your relationships? How does it affect your health? How do you interact at work? Go back into the hallway. Stop at the right door. There is a sign on the door with your name and the title of your old role, except now, there is a big red X crossing it out.
Walk through this door and observe what your life looks like without this role. How would you show up in your relationships if you dropped this role? How would it change your health? How would it improve your work? Give yourself a few minutes to witness your life without this role. Don’t think: simply allow the images to emerge in your mind’s eye.
Turn to walk back into the hallway and ask for divine guidance: What new role can you play to help you shed this old role?
As you close the door, you see a new sign ready for you leaning against the wall. You pick up the sign. It has your new role written on it. You take a deep breath and smile. As you walk back through the hallway, you carry the sign with you, grateful and excited to “try on” your new role.
As Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
Dropping the old roles you’re expected to play (or the roles you expect yourself to play) and choosing the role you WANT to play is not only empowering, but it’s also freeing. Adopting a new role means doing the inner work; but; it’s well worth the effort.
What role do you want to drop, and what new role do you want to embrace? Let me know!