Identity is not about your roles but who you are

“Your identity, since birth, has remained unchanged. Your roles never have and never will define your identity. You may think they do, but they don’t. It’s difficult to separate your identity from your role, but it’s important to see that there’s a difference.”

― David Sandler, You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar, 2nd Edition: Sandler Training’s 7-Step System for Successful Selling

Today, during an all-day sales training on The Sandler Sales Method, we learned about something called “The I/R Theory” – I/R standing for Identity and Role.

I had never heard of this theory. But after the seasoned moderator began reviewing the material, I soon realized that this theory was actually a very important lesson in a person’s overall self-esteem.

Think about this exercise.

Close your eyes in a quiet space, and imagine you were just dropped off on a beautiful deserted island for only seven days, with no other human contact but plenty of provisions.

You spend your days walking along pristine beaches as soft, cool breezes caress your face – all while listening to ocean waves crashing into the shoreline.

In essence, you’re in paradise for a brief hiatus from reality – a time of mental, physical and spiritual renewal.

Devoid of all the “roles” we play in life (both personal and professional) we find a strange sense of peace, and suddenly the “roles” that so often plague us in reality are gone.

The above exercise illustrates a very important point for all of us. Far too often, we let our roles in life creep into our identity and ultimately allow them to define who we are.

When we envisioned ourselves on that beautiful deserted island, we had no fear of being judged or criticized; there were no expectations or stresses.

Because of their absence, we were able to be who we truly are – to focus on our identity as a human being, not the roles we play in society.

Remember, your role is what you do in life, not who you are.

Your identity is what defines you as a person, comprised of qualities, beliefs, personalities and even expressions. Our roles in society, and the material possessions we’ve been able to amass because of them, will never define who we are.

I found this anonymous quote online today. “Never lose your identity over anyone. If they can’t love you for who you are, let them go and move on.”

YOU need to love who you are first and foremost, ignoring the judgements and criticisms you undoubtedly will receive from the roles you play in life.

Remember, you can always replace a role with another role (the loss of a job, your children are all grown up, you get divorced) but you can never erase your identity – the people we truly ARE in life.

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