What I am referring to by the term ‘roles’ is the way one behaves in the relationships in their life. So with the description out of the way, the first question is; what causes one to behave as they do in relationships when their behaviour is dysfunctional and disempowering and doesn’t lead to fulfilling relationships? This is something I am going to do my best to answer.
Present Day Behaviour
During those moments where ones behaviour is dysfunctional or disempowering, often the following can occur; something is said or something is done and before we know it our behaviour is completely out of control. With it seeming to happen so fast that we can often believe we have no control over our behaviour.
Although this might not just be a one of occurrence, it is usually a set of behaviours that appear throughout a relationship. There could also be behaviours that are constantly triggered around men, women or authority figures for example.
And once these behaviours are triggered it can be difficult to regain ones composure. It might cause one to feel that there is nothing they can do and this is who they are – an effect of the environment as opposed to a cause.
What Is Happening?
In all of these moments something is being triggered in the mind and what is being brought to the surface is usually the result of a memory or an accumulation of memories from ones childhood or an earlier point in life.
These triggers are often so subtle and out of conscious awareness that they can just seem to happen. This then naturally leads to feelings of powerlessness and of being a victim of circumstance.
As these memories are usually being triggered from ones childhood or from earlier relationships it can feel as though one is regressing. And that one’s usual sense of self and behaviour is no longer in existence.
Why Do They Still Exist?
It is quite clear that these old ways of behaving are counterproductive to ones wellbeing and empowerment, so why do they still exist? They exist because they are still associated with what is safe to the ego mind.
During ones childhood and younger years these were the behaviours that were utilised to ensure ones survival. To go against them at that time of one’s life would be perceived as leading to rejection and abandonment.
Stimulus And Response
So looking at a scenario again, it now makes a lot more sense. All that is required is a trigger of some kind and our behaviour will then, as a consequence, regress to how it was at an earlier stage of our life. With this earlier stage usually being ones childhood.
This is one of the reasons that the behaviour is counterproductive, as it might have worked all those years ago to keep one safe, but when it comes to the present day the behaviour is outdated and disempowering.
These roles are not only limited to the roles that we play ourselves; there is also the other side of the coin. This is when we interpret others and see their behaviour in a way that reflects the roles of our caregivers or the people in our past. And by doing this, our ability to be conscious and to see others in a more balanced or conscious point of view is lost.
Perhaps when one was younger they had an authoritative mother or father. It might then play out in two ways; the first would be that whenever they come across an authority figure they will tend to become submissive and fearful. The other likely approach would be behaviour that is aggressive and hostile.
Another example is the women who had an overbearing or controlling father. And when she is in an intimate relationship she has a tendency to regresses back to her earlier behaviour and the role she had around her father. This of course has no benefit and only causes her to feel overwhelmed and powerless.
In both of these examples, ones unprocessed past is being projected and manifested into the present moment and is then reappearing in the form of ‘roles’.
That’s The Way It Is
As I have mentioned above in regards to the nature of these roles; we can act in a certain manner and perceive others in specific ways, without ever noticing that these roles are being carried out and because of this unawareness we can go through life without ever questioning these roles.
Where Did These Roles Originate From?
These roles that we see in others and the roles that we embody are in many ways a consequence of our original role models. And our original reference point for role models is typically our parents/caregivers.
These were seen as god like figures and as people who were completely different to us. And in terms of their physical size and perhaps mental growth they were different to us. But inherently they came from the same place as us and are no different to us. They are still human beings who have needs and imperfections like us.
The role of a mother and father is generally something that the majority of people can relate to and understand as an example. This could be because they are one of these roles or because they have had one or both of these in their life.
They are roles that are familiar and easy to understand. However, there are often emotions of anger and frustration and feelings of being let down and betrayed when one go’s over their experiences with their parents or in comparing thir parents with other people’s parents.
However, as we grow older and develop ourselves, we have the chance to see our parents/caregivers more for who they are as opposed to the god like figures we thought they were. And that maybe they were the best people for our own growth to occur. Something that will be easier to grasp if one believes or knows that life has meaning and harder to believe in, if one sees life as random and meaningless.
They likely had needs that were not met and their own pain, all of which were likely to been have projected onto us and affected our upbringing and development.
Freedom From Roles
There might always be job titles and roles that are apart of those in our society, however the psychological roles that we play and perceive in others are not static. The types of roles that we play and the roles we interpret other people to play can always change.
With dancing there is a constant motion and movement, and just like how a dance will stop when there is resistance; so will the flow of life when our mind becomes fixed and resistant.
Awareness is required for this flow to happen and for the dissolving of roles to occur. And first and foremost awareness of ourselves and out of that allows for the awareness of others.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.