What role do you play?


Each and every one of us has a role to play. A role is the position of power that someone places on another person. Role Theory states that we are all in a role in various relationships as a spouse, a partner, a lover, a mother/father, a son/daughter, a brother/sister, etc. Within the role we take on responsibilities of that role. We assumed dominant or submissive tendency in certain role. We follow or we lead. We assume many roles and it is a balancing act to prioritize the different way to be in the different roles. Every one of us have at least one role, belonging to a group (EG: family group) promotes our self-worth, which is essential to our survival needs.

Role expectation is a perception of others. Social norms dictate that we must behave, act, and be certain way in certain situation. In the UK, the etiquette for driving is on the left side of the road. Therefore, as a road user (a role), you are expected to drive on the left side of the road. Role Theory highlights dominant or submissive tendencies. Role expectation of a dominant person can vary, depending on the dynamic of the relationship. A dominant position is a person who has power and influence over another. Someone who command, control, govern and presides over another person. It can range from being a leader, a chief, a boss, an advisory to someone with dependents and central to the community. Role expectation of a submissive person can be someone in co-dependent relationships such as mother-child or carer-patient. This person readily accepts authority and the wills of others. The submissive person totally conforms, obedient and is dependent on others. As role expectation is placed upon us by others based upon power, it can be given or taken away. However, I would stress that role expectation in the workplace is somewhat different to interpersonal roles in relationship formation.

In the perspective of Sociologists, role theory is considering as everyday activities acting-in to conform to the in-group social norm, or acting out to rebel against the harsh discipline of the social groups. Each social role is a set of rights, duties, expectations, norms and behaviours that a person has to face and fulfill. The theory takes the assumption that people will behave in a predictable way, and that people will act specifically in context of their roles that they are recognized as in groups.

For a closer look at some of our most common roles; its responsibilities, expectancy and behaviours.

  • Wife/Husband – a person of interest, a person who we have chosen to be our partner, a person outside the family group. This person satisfies our intimate needs, physically, emotionally and mentally. This person is expected to be loyal, committed and love us in return for the investment that we put into the relationship.
  • Mother/Father – a provider to support their children or other dependents. A person to guide, direct and educate their children or other dependents. This person is responsible for her/his children well-being and development until they reach adulthood. This person is responsible for providing the safety of home, security, love, affection, and nurturing their children or other dependents.
  • Son/Daughter – as a dependent child, this person need help and support from their parents and other family group members in order to grow and learn until they can become independent. Then, they venture outside the family group confidently. Later on in their lives, their role will switch; their parents being dependent on the children.
  • Brother/Sister – as a sibling and depending on your position of birth, your role in this sub-category will vary. An eldest child may have to be responsible for their little brother or sister, a mischievous middle child usually gets away with a lot and the youngest child is often spoils by the parents and the elder siblings. Each sibling will be fighting each other for their position of power in the family group, and for the affection of their parents or carers.
  • Aunt/Uncle/Niece/Nephew etc – a distance member of the family, may be seen as an advisory person to approach when an immediate family member becomes difficult to tolerate. This person offers guidance and different perspective to the problem, still maintaining the core belief and values of the family group.

Each person may have to manage the many roles that they hold. And each role come with set of rules, expectations and functions that have to be adhere to. In day-to-day situation, juggling the many different roles often create stress and anxiety and can often be the source of many conflicts. Many of our roles carry social behaviour that we have to comply within the group. Roles, in fact, is partly dictated by our social structure. And, in turn, each person can accept and influence the norm expectations and behaviours of other group members.

As we grow up through the developmental stages, we begin to explore our ecology outside the family group. We learn and take on different roles with our peers and people in different establishment such as school, social club, religious community groups, scouts etc. It is often a difficult transition to adopt new or different belief system to ones we learned from the family group. Sometime, we have to set aside old habits and re-learn new skills in order to be part of the new in-group. Depending on our personality type, we may choose to stay close to those with the same set of beliefs originally held or we might rebel against what we have learned and become influenced by new experiences of the outside groups.

Whatever roles you decide to embrace, one of the important thing to remember is that you have a choice to choose the role that you are most comfortable with. You can choose how to behave in the role. You can choose how to act in the role. You can be who you want to be.

However, if you need help identifying and balancing your many roles, contact me and we can walk the tight-rope together.

Me and my father

Father and son

I have discussed the role of motherhood around Mother’s day in my article, it is appropriate that I discuss the role of fatherhood on Father’s day. You may remember me mentioning the attachment theory of Bowlby, and the role it plays in a child’s development. Many psychologists refer to primary carer being the mother, although this is true in lots of cases, little light is shed on fathers as primary carer. We can see my Freud and many closely analyses the mother being the important to the child’s development due to breast feeding, in the absent of the mother, a father can be just as important to the child. Father and mother reacts differently to the same behaviour from the child. Father and mother also reacts different to the child, depending on the gender of the child. Our biological make-up drive our preferential tendencies toward the opposite sex. Such as the biological evolutionary law.

Research has shown that attachment with both parents are preferable in a child’s development, but it doesn’t come with criticisms. But in today’s society with the rise in divorce, and parents separating, the child is ping pong between acrimonious court proceedings resulting in tremendous stress. In majority of cases, a mother gets full custody of the child and the father has limited access or is absent. Many studies proof that absent of a father can deter healthy development. It is really inconsiderate and selfish of divorcing parents to use the children to gain power of custody in the separation proceeding.

In an ideal world, a child needs both parent’s regular contact to promote healthy social development through the life stages. I would like to address the importance of psychological effect of an absent father in a child’s development. As Mott’s research mentioned, the emotional and cognitive effect on a child of absent father is tremendous. I can relate to this, as my biological father was absent in my early childhood. I personally think that it depends on your gender preferential as well, as Freud crudely mentioned the Oedipus complex, for me, I prefer companies of men, as a result of paternal attachment deprivation. There are many factors that contributed to this preference, for me, I crave the male attention I was lacking in childhood. Of cause, this is not the case for everyone. Absent of a father affects the sons as well, creating unstable emotional disturbances in relationship formation. Father matters and I reached this conclusion, once my step-dad came into my life as a stable role model. As a daughter, I found myself attaching to him from the years of absent paternal figure. Although, I may have viewed female companies as competition previously, it is no longer the case, thanks to his guidance and perspective in my development.

Problem with attachment and absent of paternal figure depends largely on the reasons for the absence, all of which has devastating effect. If the absent is absolute, where a father voluntarily abandoned the child completely, it is likely that the child will feel rejected, hurt and guilt. Feeling like these can exacerbate depression. With no male action-orientation to model, depending on the child’s tendencies, he/she might not be able to relate to social setting from the male perspectives leading to social anxiety, inadequacy and may cause difficulty in forming relationships. If the absence is due to the maternal figure being deceitful, building trust will be a problem. If the absence is due to violence and abuse, on the mother or child, separation is almost justify and although it is difficult to accept that your father is violent or abusive, it is invariable the best choice for a child to be in a safe environment. If the absent is due to death, the child need to grieve the loss, and children should be told the reality of loss through death, rather than being sugar-coated. If the absent is due to an incarceration, this treatment need to be treated with sensitive, depending if the father will want to remain in the child’s life after the prison sentence is served. Whatever the reason, it is helpful to explain it to the child at the appropriate development age to comprehend and understand. Ignoring the absence is the worst possible way to deal with the situation. Burying your head in the sand and hope that the child do not ask is not the answer.

How do you recover from absent of a father figure? Address and accept that your father is absent from your life. Establish when the father was absent, and establish your current age including the maladaptive patterns of your destructive relationship formation will help pinpoint accuracy to locate the critical factor. Re-educate and learn of the reasons for his absent can promote awareness and help with acceptance. Connecting with him, if at all possible, it is never too late to (re)build relationships. Seek reassurances and reach out for support from your network of contacts can be therapeutic. Direct your energy through exploration and talk about your feelings surrounding the absent of a father figure through counselling can help address problem maintaining relationships. Aspiring for your own future, with or without, him and working towards your own satisfactory resolution.

Face the inside out

Following my article on The changing face of self-confidence, our face are marked and shaped not only by events in our life but our biological make up also plays a role. As we grow up, our physiology changes through the various developmental stages. Our body go through several surges of hormonal fluctuation, and our face changes too, especially during certain life stages. Here, I want to bring an attention to the teenage years, concerns with transitions from childhood to adulthood. This difficult stage comes with many dilemmas and coping with teenagers are often problematic for many parents.

A child going through this stage is flooded with hormones accompanied by erratic mood swing, irritability, aggression, recklessness and restlessness. The child experience rapid rise in sex hormones. Girls will be flooded with oestrogen and progesterone leading to mensuration and boys are flooded with testosterone making the teenage years a foundation for difficult behaviours in adult life.

However, the child going through this stage is also marked by acne that can scar them, mentally and physically, long into their adult life. A closer look at the myth surrounding acne indicates that it may begin during our teenage years but it can last long into adulthood. As a sufferer, I know too well the frustrations and painful torment it can cause to self-confidence. It mark the face, scar the body and deplete confidence, yet it is brush in society as something quite trivial. As mentioned in BBC Newsbeat and Changing Face, may be we ought to give it some attention. After all, it can effect a person in so many ways.

It can lead the sufferer to become target of bullying, lead to low or lack of confidence. It can be detrimental to our health and psychological well-being. It can result in embarrassment which prevents us forming intimate relationships. It may even lead a person to become a recluse, an agoraphobic or developing social anxiety and depression.

As acne marked the face and body, we naturally want to cover it up and we mostly do this with make-up. We covet over those lucky people with perfect clear skin. This envious feeling can lead to low self-confidence and low self-esteem. We may depreciate the self and damn the self, other and the world which does nothing to our ego.

As we feel pensive on the inside, this will show on the outside, especially in the face. The face is a thousand picture and often when I use face reading in my assessment of my clients, I can assess how they are feeling on the inside, when what they say is not congruent to the way they feel.

Not only are you suffering physically from the acne, you are also suffering internally too. Looking good is important, isn’t it? Is it really or is it something that we are socially led to believe. The way we look attract others to be our friend or our partner. People form impressions of you immediate within seconds of meeting you. People judge almost instantly whether they will like you base on your look. People prejudice against you as soon as they see you. Everyone look mainly at what is on the outside.

I say, of cause, looks are important it plays a role in our psyche and our survival needs. How can it not. However, I think looking good on the inside is vastly more important, for our mental health, physical health and spiritual health. Looking good on the inside, where the body hold equilibrium of healthy mind, organs and nutrients will show on the outside and as a result will show in the face. Healthy face is blemishes free, smooth and mark with healthy lines such as laughter lines around the eyes.

Haven’t you already been battered enough by the stigma from others about the way you look? Why not ask yourself, who’s painting you a bad picture? Who judges you by the way you look? Who’s voices are these?

  • “Look at the face on that!” Remember that the person saying this also have imperfections too, and what they judged in you is all too often what they are lacking on their inside – perhaps you have reminded them of their own facial imperfections.
  • “How you can let yourself go like that, you obese person?” Remember that the person who is judging you had their own misconceptions of you. You can reject their misconceptions. Perhaps they see themselves obese in the mirror. Perhaps looking at you, they see what they judge in themselves.
  • “What a stupid ass! How can you not see a simple solution?” There is no need to accept someone’s opinion of you. You can choose disregard their opinion, as their eyes rolled up in annoyance.
  • “Just look at the state of you, you tramp!” You can look them straight in the eye and hold their stares. You can look them blankly and passively with influence, showing that you are unaffected by their harsh glare and slight curl at the corner of their lips showing disapproval or disgust.
  • “Look at what she is wearing today, what a slut!” Recite this self-talk in your head: “I prefer that they do not treat me insensitively but I can accept that they can, they may do, and have their right to think whatever they thought about me. But I do not have to accept what they say.” There will always be someone who think differently to what you wear, the amount of make-up you have on, the way you have your hair, and the clothes on your back can be a source of jealousy and envy. They want to have your figure, they want to have your legs, they want your height and the covet what they don’t have.
  • “You annoying cow!” Look for positive qualities in yourself. No matter what you do, you will not be able to please everyone, why should you worry about trying?
  • “What the hell are you doing here?” Look for positive outcome from your environment and from those you meet. You may find that you are drawn to the new people as you send out new vibes. Everyone has the right to be anywhere they want to be, go anywhere they choose, in any place they wish.

Perhaps you can think of some of your own statements that you used to form judgment in situations or that you experienced. You don’t have to be an expert on face reading to see what someone is think about you by looking at their face. Why not share your comment with me?

You don’t need to accept anyone’s opinion of yourself. Make up your own mind and make up your own face!