You are More than the Roles You Play

Do you know your inner self — the TRUE you or are you a conglomeration of the roles that define you?  When people ask you about yourself do you answer by the roles you play, “wife, husband, mother, father, your career (whatever TITLE THAT may be), daughter, son, friend, etc. etc.?  Do you welcome distractions like TV, constant texting or cell phone use or do you relish the time when you can sit in quiet contemplation of life?  Getting to know your inner self is the first step toward healing whatever is wrong in your life. By figuring out what it is we truly believe about life, the roles we play and about our place in the whole big scheme of things we empower ourselves.  By examining the roles, quieting ourselves and listening to our self talk we can heal and address some past habits, set boundaries and move forward to being a happier and healthier person.

The Roles We Play

I love Eckhart Tolle’s work on “roles” in “A New Earth”.  I feel it is so important for us to look beyond the roles others have given us and we have assigned to ourselves.  Yes, I AM a wife, mom, daughter, friend, “blogger” and more but that does not define the true inner Jenny.  When we think “role” we also assume a whole lot of other things with that role. When we DEFINE that role according to past messages we are setting ourselves up to be judged by ourselves and others. In examining each role by looking at the objective reality, understanding how the subjective definition of that role affects us and then going inward — we can REALLY figure out what the differences are and set boundaries.  We are admitting we are MUCH more than that role.  We can play many “roles” in our lives but they do not define WHO we are, in recognizing that and setting boundaries we empower ourselves and KNOW more of who we want to be.


1) Pick a Role and define what you have HEARD about that role: (parent, spouse, worker, friend, ______)

I am a mom.  So I think, “How IS a mom supposed to act?” Hmm… well I have been told that mom’s are supposed to ALWAYS put their kids first.  I have been told mom’s “do it all” and still have a smile on — laundry, child rearing, working, groceries, cooking, etc…..  Those are messages I have heard since I was little from society and the world around me and I know messages I repeated to myself especially as a new mom.

2) What is the Reality of that role?

Children need their parents/mothers for protection, comfort, love, food and shelter.  Humans also need time to take care of themselves.  It’s the old put “put your Oxygen mask on yourself BEFORE assisting your kids if the airplane is in trouble” example. If you do NOT take care of yourself first you will NOT be able to care for someone else. As long as your children are safe, fed, loved you are doing your job as a mother.  Considering WHAT you have to offer FIRST is best for all involved — a reality I had shown to me in The Crystal Labyrinth.

3) How has thinking of the role of “mom” as it is traditionally defined affected me?

If I am ALWAYS putting my children first that does not leave time for me and leaves me depleted and NOT able to BE the best mom I can be.  It also leaves me feeling “guilty” that I am not living up to “what a mom should be”. These messages replay themselves and it could become a constant struggle. It WAS a struggle especially as a new mom.

4)  What Going inward Accomplishes

This allows me to understand the difference between what I have been told my role is and what it REALLY means to me to be in the role of mother.  It lets me know Mom is just ONE of those roles I play but it does not define ME. I KNOW that if I have taken some time for myself to work, meditate or do something I love, I am MUCH more present as a mother and enjoy the role and my children whole heartedly. I need time to self reflect and do things for ME.  When I regularly take time for myself (which I have gotten MUCH better at doing) I am completely conscious when interacting with my children. We ALL are better off for it and FEEL it deeply. If I jump to action any time they want something I am telling them 1) they can’t do it themselves 2) their every whim is more important then whatever I may be doing at the time.  By going inward I set my boundaries, set my priorities and everyone wins – my children and ME.

You can do this with any “role”.  What are your messages about the role of a spouse?  What about in work? What about as a friend?  Another example I see often is people say “friends are supposed to be there for each other no matter what” but what if the relationship has consistently drained you?  Maybe it is time to look within and to set some boundaries.  By clearly defining these roles we realize they are just that and NOT the true inner self.  We can begin to set boundaries and know what is acceptable to us and what is depleting us.  We can use the questions above to see what ANY role truly means to us and how we can embrace the role but yet know we are NOT the role – we are so much more!

Quiet Time

Ah the maddening noise of the day — cell phones and the many sounds they make, computers and printers buzzing, mp3 players, traffic and or noise of commuting, then let’s come home and put the TV on to “unwind”.  Sigh…. we as humans NEED peace.  I know people that fall asleep with the TV on “for company”.  Truth is, if we do not take some quiet time for ourselves there is no way we can know our inner selves. Walks, meditation, simply day dreaming… these are healthy activities for us to KNOW who we are. Quiet time is essential in asking ourselves these questions.  It does not matter how you accomplish it.  Turn off the noise, quiet your mind and begin to ask yourself some of these questions about the roles you play in your life. Do you know the reality of those roles or are you acting them out as you have been told to? Are you on auto-pilot in these roles or are you consciously understanding their place in your life and that you are THAT and so much more?

Self Talk/Listening to Our OWN messages

I have written about this often and not only because it WAS CRITICAL in healing myself but I feel it is something I will always be dealing with in one way or another. We are usually our own worst enemies.  We repeat to ourselves the messages we have grown up with like some broken record. In Slade’s latest post “Your Ego is an Awful DJ” – he did a wonderful job of defining those blasted messages in our heads!

When I interviewed James Sinclair, Director of the movie “What If?”, he pointed out that we have recorded messages we have learned up until the age of 6 that we repeat to ourselves when we are on auto pilot.  They don’t even have to be what we truly believe. MOST of the time they are words we heard from our parents, neighbors, community.  Since we are in such a receptive state in our younger years THOSE are the messages that stick.  That is why it is so very important to take that quiet time and ask ourselves what we truly believe about all aspects of our life.  Acting against what our inner self truly believes can bring stress and illness.  In my post “What Do You Believe?” I wrote included a poem I wrote about how the first chakra correlates with these messages and how illnesses can result if not addressed.

LISTEN to what you are telling yourself about the roles in your life.  Consider the things that come up. Yes, when you begin to listen to your self talk utter horror can be felt. I know I felt it when I listened to what I was telling myself about my illnesses and how my life would be. My “role” of a person with lots of chronic dis-ease. Do not beat yourself up for the messages heard — HEARING them is the first step in re-programming them.  Ask yourself what the reality is.  Ask yourself WHAT you want that role to look like in your life if you are playing it consciously and NOT on auto-pilot.  There is power in facing these definitions and correcting them to your inner self and needs.


We all have many roles that we play.  We all can keep on doing as we have — letting our auto-pilot run and not knowing if we are in alignment with our inner selves or not.  It doesn’t take much time — quiet the world around you, listen to what your self talk tells you about the roles you play, ask yourself if this is in true alignment with what you believe, make adjustments and see how empowered you feel as you align them to reflect the true inner you.  As always, comments and sharing is welcome.  What roles have you examined and made changes to in your own life? 


  1. says

    Ah, yes the ego and the roles we play….

    Ever since I too read A New Earth from Tolle, I like you felt an immediate connection. It was fascinating and I have to say, it actually helped me expand and understand other people, more than myself. What it did for me, is make me aware of how not to fall into so many of the roles that may lay before me…

    So in conclusion, yes we are so much more than our roles. This is also why I struggled when it was time to write the new about me page for Evolving Beings for quite some time. On the one hand I wanted people to get a “typical” idea of who I am, but on the other, I didn’t want to be associated with roles or labels. This is a challenge indeed.

    Thanks for this Jenny – it is a topic that needs to be promoted big time I think, as I think one of the biggest reasons why so many are so unhappy in the world today is because they do not realize this one simple fact…. “you are not your role, you are so much more than that”
    .-= Evita´s last blog ..My Big TOE Author Thomas Campbell’s Toronto Workshop – Day 2 =-.

  2. says

    Hi Evita,

    Ahh that blasted about me page – maybe THAT’s why I have put off re-doing mine for so long! 😉

    It feels like I keep uncovering more and more “roles” I put myself in. It is healing to clearly define them to myself and to put them in their place in my life instead of being on auto pilot.

    Thanks for your kind words Evita… it is an important message and one that resonated deeply after reading A New Earth.

    Lovely to be talking more. :-)

  3. says

    Great post, Jenny.

    These roles are important as a starting point in deciding what activities we do. For example, as a father there are some activities generally involved – of course I can choose to do them or not – that help me navigate that role. They help others navigate too. Eg the teachers don’t freak out when I pick up my kids from school and give them a hug – because I fill that role of father.

    But it really does start to obscure self awareness when I identify with those roles and activities. ‘Father’ is what I do, not what or who I am.
    .-= Ian | Quantum Learning´s last blog ..Talking behind your back =-.

    • says

      Hi Ian,

      EXACTLY – the roles ARE just what we do – not who we are. :-) The more we clearly define what that “role” means to us and what is true and right for us in that role — the more we are in alignment with our inner selves.

      Loved our last post on not talking behind people’s back. Very important! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. GREATLY appreciated.


  4. says

    Jenny, I so appreciate this theme and post, especially as it relates to motherhood. There are so many idealized versions of parenting out there, and it can leave us perpetually feeling like we are falling short, or feeling guilty when we take ANY time for ourselves. And as you aptly point out, taking care of ourselves is an absolute necessity.
    I also like Eckhart Tolle’s exploration of roles, and have thought a lot about this in relation to all the different kinds of roles I play in a day, including ‘blogger’. It’s a very freeing exercise. Namaste-
    .-= Lisa (mommymystic)´s last blog ..Musings on PEACE, in Honor of International Peace Day =-.

  5. says

    Thanks for this Jenny — that’s true, I definitely know from experience that it can be scary to sit quietly with myself — meditation isn’t necessarily a relaxing activity. In fact, I think, it’s more of a growth experience for me when it isn’t, because then I get the opportunity to learn to be with sensations I may be running away from in my day to day life.

  6. says

    Hey Lisa,

    Ahh those blogger and mommy roles – probably the 2 I have spent the most time on. :-) It is freeing to define them and recognize them for what they are — separate from WHO we are. :-)

    Always a pleasure to hear from you Lisa. Hope all is well. Thanks so much for commenting.

    Lots of Love, xo

  7. says

    Hi Chris,

    Absolutely — when I began to sit quietly and actually LISTEN to myself — it was VERY scary what came up. But, as you know that is just the first step – at least you are becoming aware of it and processing it instead of not even noticing and keeping the automatic pilot button pressed! It takes a little work but it sure is worth it. Now if I don’t take that time to notice what is going on in my life I can feel pretty lost.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. GREATLY appreciated!


  8. says

    I constantly tweak my roles, my self. As we grow our roles change, tasks need to be juggled, different hats have to be worn depending on the situation. For me: guru, father, husband, writer, singer, actor, comic, worker, leader, supervisor, the list is endless…

    .-= Mike Foster´s last blog ..Break a Sweat Every Day =-.

  9. says

    Jenny, you send uout such encouraging and reassuring messages. They gently remind your readers to recognize what they experience and perceive is a process. Every human being is going through certain motions in the process of learning more about his own thoughts and feelings. Why people think as they do is not always obvious to the conscious mind. Writing and talking about it helps one come to terms with aspects of reality that have been selectively and temporarily forgotten. Nothing is ever lost.
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..Lynn Grabhorn & 23 ideas to open the stargate =-.

  10. says

    Roles are a funny thing and what you say here is true. I have so many interest and activities that I do, many of which if considered within the bounds of traditional stereotypes probably appear externally as if they are conflicted while internally I feel no conflict at all.

    The problem is I’m not a stereotype and neither are you or anyone else for that matter. Sure some people are pretty atypical but the fact remains that roles are generalizations and as such incomplete, inaccurate and misleading if relied upon too heavily.

    Nice article :)

    .-= Stephen´s last blog ..When a Calorie is Not a Calorie =-.

  11. says

    Hi Liara,
    Writing, thinking and talking about almost every part of your life is so therapeutic. I am always learning which is pretty fun and exciting.
    Thanks for your support and kind words Liara.

  12. says

    Hi Stephen,
    Thank you. :-) I also have so many different things I enjoy – hard to fit inside a box and better not to try. :-) I define each role to my individual needs and in that is such freedom of expression and of breaking from habits.

    Always a pleasure to hear from you Stephen – thanks so much for commenting.

  13. says

    An excellent article Jenny. I think VERY FEW people take quiet time and turn inward. Very sad. I loved Tolle’s book A New Earth.

    “It doesn’t take much time — quiet the world around you, listen to what your self talk tells you about the roles you play, ask yourself if this is in true alignment with what you believe, make adjustments and see how empowered you feel as you align them to reflect the true inner you.”

    .-= Stephen – Rat Race Trap´s last blog ..The Circumstances of Happiness =-.

  14. says

    Hi Stephen,

    Thank you! :-) It is interesting how used to being on automatic pilot most are. I was there for YEARS so understand how easy it is. Taking that time to turn inward and adjust what needs “fine tuning” does take some time and sometimes a strong stomach (in the beginning). 😉 I feel we all get there in our own correct time in our journey. The beautiful thing is once you arrive you know there is no going back. Life CAN be MUCH easier and it just means getting a little more involved and active with your inner self. :-)

    Always wonderful to hear form you Stephen.

  15. says

    Jenny ,
    You have done it again :)- here is another book I have on my bookshelf,actually sitting on a bookshef by my bed.I bought this on recommendation about 5 years ago. Started bu t not complete

    Yes we are so much more than our roles and I closely to your about me page. Yes life is one long learning adventure and sometimes a golden pathway, others times a dark hole, the more we turn inward and learn to listen to our instinct/our soul/ our inner voice the more golden moments we have.

    When we realise we are not our roles, pur horizons change
    Love and Hugs
    .-= Suzie Cheel´s last blog ..Law of Attraction- 90 Day Challenge Update =-.

  16. says

    Hi Suzie,

    A New Earth is brilliant in many ways – I also liked Oprah’s webinar that went through every chapter – that is also still available on her site.

    Beautifully put about our golden moments. I have found that so true! The more I take time to turn inward and reflect and just “be” me and not the roles I play the more life flows effortlessly.

    Lots of hugs and love Suzie!xo
    .-= Jenny Mannion´s last blog ..Dr. Michael Newton “Journey of Souls” =-.

  17. says

    Hi, Jenny. Isn’t it a shame that so many of us were told as children to “stop your daydreaming and go do something constructive”? Getting outside ourselves in such a deeply connected way is one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves. We actually can come to know ourselves better, and continue doing so as we continue evolving. What a wonderful article.
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..Honor Redux, with a Twist =-.

  18. says

    Hi Julie,

    Welcome! It is a shame kids were not taught day dreaming is a GOOD thing. :-) I know my husband and I would play up and ask questions when my 3 year old daughter would go on about her pink and polka dotted house she would visit. :-) We’d ask her details and allow her imagination to explore it even further. I love when I see my kids deep in thought and my daughter is known to meditate even in the loudest or craziest of circumstances… I see it shifting and it is a beautiful thing — I love thinking of how the kids of the future will be so much more aware. We are all truly evolving. :-)

    Thanks so much for your nice words and for commenting.


  19. says

    Hi Jenny, what you share in this post resonates with me. In fact, I explore thoughts, feelings and perceptions in my Self-Disclosure: Changes from Within book. It empowers readers through interactive dialogue and exercises they can journal to add context and to help raise awareness about their own patterns and behaviours. Insodoing, readers express how they gain new insight into themselves, the reasons behind their life choices, inclinations toward love or fear, and other revelations that guide them to deeper sense of happiness and fulfilment. You may find it interesting to read what people are saying here:
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..Be in heaven now =-.

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