The Hero Within by Alyson Gainsford
On any given day we have many roles and responsibilities, from husband, wife, partner, lover, mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, friend, colleague, coach, business owner, golf enthusiast, teacher, welder, flight attendant (the list goes on). These roles and responsibilities we take on in our work, business and life form part of our identity, who we are, what we do and have in our life. Our identity is shaped by our values, what’s important to us, our character, brand and belief system. Our identity provides us opportunities where we seek and satisfy our need for love, connection, certainty, variety, significance, growth and contribution. Our ultimate level of happiness is determined by how aligned we are with our purpose. Our roles, responsibilities and experiences are drivers, creating moments that bring us great joy, happiness, meaning and fulfillment.
It’s not surprising that a change in a role or responsibility can result in a loss of identity. For example, the elite Tennis Player that lives and breathes to play tennis, dreams of winning the grand slam until one day she has an injury and is no longer able to play. The career that once was a source of great passion and purpose in her life ceases to exist as it previously did. What about the business owner that starts up a new business, working long hours to develop and grow it over time, circumstances change and he is forced to sell the business or file for bankruptcy. A couple that have been together for years before one or both partners decide it’s time to go their separate ways. Perhaps it’s an end to a distinguished career, change of job, career or transition into retirement. Or a child starting school, high school, uni or leaving home for the first time.
At times we may even take on an identity that is not our own, out of obligation, duty, expectation and external pressure by others to fulfill a certain role or responsibilities, forgoing our own dreams and ambitions to please others. This can lead to mixed emotions and unhappiness living a life on someone else’s terms with an internal identity that does not match our external identity.
The roles, responsibilities and identity formed in each example above change or cease to exist as it previously did creating a void. This can lead to a loss of identity, leaving a person asking “who am I” “what am I going to do now”, “what’s my purpose in life” and feeling stuck, stressed, overwhelmed, dysfunctional or distracted. This can be compounded if we do not have a variety of drivers in life to meet our core needs in a resourceful way, making it difficult to let go of an old identity and move forward.
At times we may cling to an identity out of fear, even if that identity is no longer serving us. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be? You playing small does not serve the world. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same” – Marianne Williamson.
There is a hero within us all, waiting to be revealed! We are so much more than one role or responsibility we take on at any point in our lives. When we experience conflict, it’s a reminder that we need to reconnect with our inner self and acknowledge and love the hero within. If our identity is congruent people see us for who we are because we do. For 6 Steps to Overcoming the Identity Crisis and Discovering the Hero Within go to www.theherowithin.com.au