The life roles we play – our many personas

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

How many hats do you wear?
Photo courtesy of

How many role hats do you wear?

In each of our lives, we all come to play many roles. These need not be false or fake, they are all facets of who we. None of them defines us in our totality. We are each progressively children, lovers, parents, and finally grandparents. We are employees, sometimes employers, and eventually retirees. We may also need to enact the role of a recovering person. Moving between roles can be full of challenges and dangers.

There are also a host of dysfunctional roles we may get trapped into playing.

When we are children we play the role of a child. Some families had a set of roles that everyone played. In family systems work, it has become common to talk about those varied roles you may have been asked to play and how they have affected the person you have become today.

Dysfunctional families keep these roles in the closet like a set of hats.

When someone leaves the family they may go to the closet get that hat out and pass it on to the next in line. Most families have a hero role. The child who does everything right and everyone gets compared to. One of the other people in the family may assume the Black Sheep role. Everything that goes wrong in the family is that person’s fault. But let the hero or the black sheep leave, by death or escape, and the family recruits a new person to play that role.

Were you the family hero?

Have you grown up believing that you had to be perfect to be any good? Do you need to rescue others to have a self-worth? You may have gotten locked into the hero role.

You may have been cast as the black sheep.

Were you told that everything wrong in the family was your fault, that you would never amount to anything? Were you told you would end up an alcoholic just like your father? Just as we may try to live up to people’s expectations many of us have learned to live down. The result is that expected to fail we do just that.

It is hard to stop playing the child to your parent’s adult.

People also get locked into the child role. They find it difficult to disagree with their parents or make their own choices. Sometimes to escape the orbit of their parents these folks have to create some sort of explosion and force a rupture in the family so they can escape the child role.

Every new couple has to navigate this task. You leave a family so does your partner. Together you create a new family. The task becomes which family traditions do you follow or do you create your own traditions.

If your parents tried to protect you from life by keeping you a child and not allowing you to make your own choices you may find it extra difficult to assume the role of partner in this new family. You can be stuck in an old role that interferes with finding your new role.

Roles – recovery roles and role conflicts.

Many times roles come into conflict. Your children want or need you to do some things and you need to be somewhere else doing something else. Learning to juggle and balance all the roles you need to fill can take practice.

Recovering people also have to learn to include the role of a recovering person in their repertoire. Do you do things to take care of yourself? Can you balance your need for self-care with your needs to care for others?

Some jobs include expectations that you will drink or do drugs like your coworkers. These roles conflict with the things you will need to stay in the role of a recovered person.

If you find yourself wearing many role hats, you may need to learn to make quick changes. You may also need to reexamine the roles you are playing and to discard some of those old role hats that no longer fit.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.