In my work as a psychotherapist, I talk to people about their senses of identity and self-worth. Often, those things are intertwined.
People’s identity can include:
- Family Roles (Parent, Sibling, Son/Daughter)
- Functional Roles (Caretaker, Breadwinner, etc.)
- Work-related Roles (Job title, retiree, pre-worker/student)
- Social Roles (“Life of the party,” “Rebel,” Peacemaker”)
… and more.
I woke up thinking about Identity today because:
- For many years, a large part of my identity has been the work I do (notice that I referenced that in my very first sentence in this post).
- I am dealing with pneumonia right now, which is necessitating my staying out of work. Therefore, I have a new and unfamiliar role, which I hesitate to name because of stigmatized words like … “Invalid.” (I mean, look at THAT word — “invalid”! Isn’t that the very opposite of “valid” or “worthy”?)
- Another important part of my identity at work — supervisor/teacher — is about to end, because my wonderful Social Work intern is leaving next week.
- Today is my late mother’s birthday, so I am aware of a role that I used to fill — Daughter — that no longer exists.
- I’ve been writing blog posts (see here, here , and here) about a new identity — a Super Hero, no less, called “Super Recovery Woman.”
When I talk to people, in my treasured role as psychotherapist, I suggest that they look at the roles and labels they apply to themselves about who they are, as a way of understanding what affects their sense of self-worth.
Often these conversations turn to this very general role:
Here’s a saying that many people have found helpful:
(I found that image here)
In other words, basing our sense of worth on what we do can be a problem, since that can fluctuate and change so much, from day to day.
Wouldn’t it be great to feel a sense of self worth just for being? In other words, wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up in the morning, knowing you are worthy, no matter what you can or cannot do that day?
I would like to ask my readers some questions, at this point in the post: Do people think I am intrinsically less worthy, because I am not working right now?
Would you be surprised if I were to tell you that I am struggling NOT to judge myself and my self-worth, because of this latest role change?
And here’s my last question: If you do NOT judge ME right now, might you still judge yourself, if your roles (or other aspects of your self-identity) were to change?
Here’s another part of my identity that I would like to own, at this point in this post:
As with any other role, there are certain norms and assumptions associated with my role of Blogger. For the most part, these are norms and assumptions that I have had the luxury to choose and shape myself, since I started filling this role 476 days ago.
For example, Ann the Blogger:
- Blogs once a day.
- Tries to inform and amuse (if possible).
- Writes in the morning, soon after she awakes and before she goes to work (on weekdays).
- Includes photos, whenever possible, including those she has taken herself.
I don’t know how many norms of that role I am going to fulfill today. As always, I shall do the best I can, without trying to be perfect, and accepting where I am.
In order to fulfill Blogging Norm #4, listed above, let’s see if I have any photos to show you that relate to today’s topic.
Hmmm, I believe I do.
These are all photos that relate to my Identity/Role as Observer. (I hope they fit in with my role as Super Recovery Woman, too.*)
Shall we begin?
I observed this when I went for my dental appointment, last week. That window display is near the Boston Marathon route, and includes appropriate footwear.
This photo also relates to my role as …. Mother. Here’s what I want to point out, right now, about that shot: (1) the thermostat on the wall has starred in a post of its own (see here) and (2) as usual, I did not ask anybody to pose; I merely observed and captured what was within my sight.
The final two images in this post relate to my role as Lover of Creatures (outside and inside):
Okay! I believe I have fulfilled enough roles, well enough, here today.
Thanks to imagination soup. net, to all those who do their best balancing many roles while maintaining a sense of self-worth, and — especially! — to those filling a much-appreciated role, right now: Reader of This Blog.
* I don’t believe that being totally bed- (or sofa-) ridden is good for me and my doctors agree. However, I find it difficult, in each moment, to judge a good-enough balance of rest and fresh air.
Excellent post!! I hope you get to feeling better soon.