Did you immediately feel defensive when you read the title of this week’s blog? Did you find yourself thinking, ‘but I don’t follow a role or script in MY relationship’.
Did your mind leap to the fun idea of erotic fantasies and you imagined your partner happily playing a role you created for them?
Role playing can definitely be a fun and imaginative way to explore the dynamics of an intimate relationship. If we can manage to stay conscious of what we are choosing to act out in that role, and be aware that we do not have to identify totally with that role all the time. The important points here are awareness and choice.
Quite often, we fall into playing subconscious ‘roles’ in our close relationships that mirror roles we took on in our family of origin. Recognize the ‘scapegoat’ role? Or the ‘pleaser’? Have you ever consciously looked at whether you behave the same way in your relationships now?
In ‘The Art of Somatic Coaching’ by Richard Strozzi-Heckler, he states,
“Throughout our lifetime we’re presented with innumerable transitions that offer us the opportunity to evolve, and to transform. Our institutions have failed in teaching us how to use these points in time to our benefit. Most of us don’t know how to navigate change and we’re left confused, out of balance, and even sick. Ill-prepared to deal with the countless transitions we reflexively fall into the roles of the bewildered, the victim, the martyr, or the hero.”
One of the most important things to come to terms with in any relationship, is the fact that it will change. Just when you think you have worked out a place of compromise and balance, things shift again. One of you changes a job, loses a parent, your kid gets bullied, your basement floods; never mind the more subtle changes that we all go through in our psyche.
What roles do you take on when your partner tells you about a problem with a co-worker? Do you instantly become the ‘therapist’? (Yeah, I do that sometimes) What about when you wake up one morning and wonder what the f*** your life is really about anyway? Does your partner become the victim and make you feel guilty for questioning things?
Funnily enough, one of the best ways to actually get clarity on these role patterns, is to actually play act with each other. Recently, in my training group, we made up skits to show common family patterns between parents and a child. It was amazing how much clarity we could get just from seeing the pattern acted out. Of course we hammed it up and made it funny, but the truth shone through.
We could see ourselves in the roles.
I have done a similar exercise with my partner, when we had to take on acting like each other as we did a task. (Don’t try this at home unless you are prepared for honest feedback) It was pretty enlightening to see my typical role mirrored back to me. We still talk about this experience a year later!
Curious about what roles you play in your relationships? Working with role play and awareness of patterns is a big part of Somatic coaching. Having a background and training in physical theatre and circus arts means I can bring this element of play into my sessions with clients in order to achieve more clarity and healing.
Reach out if you would like to have a free consult.
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