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Are the Costumes or Roles We Wear Wearing Us?

Pirates, black cats, princesses, and vampires to name just a few of the costumes you may have seen on “trick-or-treaters” at your door last week. On Halloween you probably saw costumes that were homemade, some that were handed down, and some that were newly purchased. These costumes may have been very special and gratified a child’s fondest wish, or been thrown together in haste. All of them came with the basic premise that they were to be worn just for a night. If they didn’t fit right, made moving around a challenge, or failed to elicit the expected response, it was a disappointment, but not a big deal. After all they could be rectified with a promise of something better for next year.

Not so for many of us and the roles we have taken to “wearing.” How many of us explore with any regularity the idea that these might not be an ideal fit? How often do we question the continuing appropriateness of roles that were handed down or taken on to make others’ lives easier?

Take a moment to examine one or two of the key roles in your life using the dress-up metaphor.  Perhaps there is a way to better tailor existing ones or choose something new in the hope that you might find something with a better fit.

  • At the beginning of a challenging day, does donning the “costume” of this role give you strength and confidence? Does it offer features that make you feel at ease and ready for action or does living this role make you feel you uncomfortable and inept?
  • When you look in the mirror while dressed for this role, does the reflection show you at your best? Do you see the real you or does the role require you to hide your true self behind a mask?
  • If you were to ask others how it is to be around you when you are in this role would they report that the interaction was a treat? Does your presence energize them and help them fulfill their own roles or would they perceive you as just going through the motions without a sense of vitality or integrity?

Self-Discovery Tool 4/44

If you look at your roles do you see someone else’s expectations or dreams? Do you see something that once seemed great but now doesn’t match who you are? Or do you see a version of Frankenstein – something crudely assembled from whatever was available rather than consciously composed to suit who you are? Think about how you might set about reinventing (or moving beyond) the roles you play with a little time in spent self-discovery.  Show yourself you matter by seeking a custom fit!

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