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Which you is the real you? Life Roles

Posted May 02 2013 5:00am

On the stage of life we each play many parts

Role Hats

One way we get confused about who we are deep down is the way in which we play many roles in our life time, sometimes in the same day. Each and every one of these you’s are the real you even when they can be quite different.

Changing those roles may feel like an actor changing their costume. Roles each come with an imaginary role hat. People in recovery may find it difficult to move from role to role while maintaining their recovery.

We are all children with parents. Even when we reach our senior citizen years, if our parents are still living we will continue to be our parents children. For some of us this is a good thing. For others of you, you would prefer to not fill that role but somehow after one short phone call we can get right back into the feelings we had as small children.

Five minutes after getting off the phone with your parent you can be yelling at your own child. You are now in the parent role. While these two roles are very different both are the real you. But your roles don’t stop there.

We also are partners or ex-partners or about-to-be-partners depending on the state of our romantic relationships at the time.

We, many of us, also have work roles. Even those who do not work at paid employment may have “welfare recipient” roles that require you to attend sessions and do various activities to continue to receive your assistance. 

The critical factor here is to keep your head straight on what your role is now, in this minute, and to be able to meet all these various role requirements.

Recovering people struggle to keep their roles separate. Yes you are a person with depression, anxiety or substance abuse issues but you still need to fill those parent, child, partner roles also.

Your disorder does not define you and neither do those other roles.

Learn to be able to slip from one role to another. Remember to change your role-hat when you need to move from recovering person to employee or parent.

Learn that the you that is present when your depression is troubling you is not the same you that will be present when the depression lifts. Accept all these many you’s with equal love and caring.

Realize that sometimes a very small trigger can move you from parent-you to child-you or from loving partner to angry spouse.

Each of these roles may require different traits. You need to be an affirming parent at home but may need to be a stern boss at work.

The more easily you can comfortable move from one role to another all the while being the real you the better you will adjust to life’s challenges.

The more skills you develop, the more easily you will be able to move from role to role without feeling overwhelmed or being a fake you.

Sometimes these roles may conflict and the challenge is to keep all these roles in balance without them overwhelming the other you’s.

The skills you may use when a part of a group may be very different from the skills you will need for those times in life that you are alone with only yourself.

How many roles do you fill each day and how do you manage to move between roles that require different skills? 

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page . For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at

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