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Who Am I ? Part 2 - Self Identity vs Role Identity

When asked the question, "Who Am I ?", most people think of the roles we identify with. For instance, Instagram influencer identifies a social entrepreneur role on the Instagram platform. NFL player is a role played for a football team.

Although these bits of information may be accurate about our roles in society, they do not adequately answer the question: "Who Am I ?"

Role-identity is how we offer ourselves to others in the roles we choose. These are important characters we play in our work and in external relationships.

On the flip side, self-identity defines who we are as individuals. It’s what sets us apart from the crowd; that unique set of combined characteristics that makes you-you.

  • your intuition

  • our mental methodology,

  • your will-power,

  • your emotional intelligence

  • and your physical capabilities.

Self-identity is the core essence of who we are as individuals.

This cannot be taken from us, even when a role has been stripped away. This is our “Real Self”.

So. . .

Why do we typically define ourselves by these roles rather than who we are on the inside?

Because we play multiple roles on a daily basis…. they can be the number one distraction from maintaining those deep, internal, “self” connections; the connections that link our individual spirit. . . soul. . . and body.

As we navigate life, balance is needed to retain a healthy sense of who we are while also maintaining great external roles in work and relationships.

So. . . how do we balance the scales between self-identity and role-identity?


The First Step is to Distinguish the Difference

The key variation is:

  • the “internal formation” of self-identity

  • versus

  • the “external expression” in role-identity.

Let’s dissect that…..

Self-identity is the internal formation of “all things me”. My personality, my attitude, my beliefs & values, my dreams and the latent potential pulling me to explore myself. Self-identity doesn’t cease to exist because of external changes in career, relationships, or community. It's those traits that describe you in any situation, at any time, and to anyone.

Role-Identity, on the other hand, is the outward expression of my self-identity. It’s designated pieces of “self” channeled into these roles on an as-needed basis.

For Example:

An analytical introvert who is quiet-natured with a dry sense of humor may outwardly express these self-characteristics in the roles of a content writer, father and hobby painter.

The internal formation of self-identity traits in this example include:

  • analytical

  • introverted

  • quiet natured

  • dry sense of humor.

They describe “Who I Am”.

These traits are outwardly expressed in the roles of a media content writer, father and hobby painter. This is “what I do” with “who I am”. An outward expression of inward me.

Mastering the “internal formation of our self-identity” is the secret key to mastering the outward expression of “who we are” in the roles we choose.


The Second Step is to Prioritize Self over Roles

Self-identity is the necessary “pre-requisite” for thriving in the roles that shape our life.

The idiom “never put the cart before the horse” is used to express an effective order of things. Self-identity is like the horse that pulls the cart with multiple roles in it.

Invest in nurturing it first to enhance the ability to express your uniqueness. A morning routine that focuses on inner peace and connection is a great way to prioritize self. Gratitude expressed as the first thoughts of the day can set an internal tone of appreciation for life.

Positive self-affirmations, based in truth, often increase feelings of self-love, compassion and worth. Learning the language of your body promotes physical well-being and health.

In the poem “Invictus”, William Ernest Henley reminds us that:

“I am the master of my fate

I am the captain of my soul”.

This maxim is cue for remembering that we are in control of our mind, our will-power and the goals that they produce.

Living a meaningful life is within “our reach”. Self-identity is the guide that navigates us to create a life focused on roles we flourish in.

Prioritize self before roles. . . while equally valuing them both.


The Third Step: Set Strong Boundaries with Flexible Capabilities

Self is the constant within. . . while roles are external variables.

Role responsibilities are often more demanding. Work, parenting, sleep and physical health often leaves us craving free time, with nothing on the agenda to just sit and be.

The busy months and years can easily pass by with no deep reflection or development of our inner being.

In the aftermath we often wake up in a life that does not feel like our own:

  • with our mind and emotions on autopilot

  • following a generic cultural dream in a masqueraded version of self

  • seeking external validation of inner worthiness.

Protecting your sense of self requires strong boundary walls around the time and resources needed to know who you are now and explore who you are becoming.

Adding your inner-self to your own schedule is an essential step towards balancing identities.

Internal freedom is never free.

The cost is the ability to say no - in and with love - protecting a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly portion of your time to consistently connect within yourself.

This embodied awareness of your inherent self-worth comes with its own belief system - the belief that exploring my self-identity is a lifetime privilege. . . an awakening journey. . . back to me.

One step at a time. . .

A balanced me becomes a stronger community of we.

Subscribe to explore the commonalities of our humanity with us.

One topic at a time. . .

From the inside out. . .

Welcome to Circles of You.


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