Getting to know yourself is an exciting adventure. It is a discovery process that should be done with utmost care and under ideal conditions. In order to do that; find a place where you’ll be very relaxed, very comfortable. When you are there, expand your thoughts and your imagination.
Imagine your favorite lake on a beautiful day. The water sparkles in the bright sunlight; it’s crystal clear and the surface is undisturbed. Only the slightest breeze rustles through the trees as you walk along the shore. The sun is warming your back; you experience a sense of well-being. As a matter of fact, a more pleasant spot, a more peaceful atmosphere, a more beautiful day would be difficult to find. You are at peace and content.
As you circle the lake, stoop down to pick up a smooth rock. Look at it; run your hand over it. It’s smooth and warm. Are you there? Now throw it far into the center of the lake. What do you see? Suddenly, the smooth, reflective surface of the water has been transformed into patterns of concentric rings, ripples emanating from the where your rock entered. The ripples continue to follow an undisturbed path from the center to the shoreline.
If the rock you chose to toss into the lake represented your core, your innermost “Identity” and then the rings emanating from it could be likened to the true and uninhibited “Roles” you perform in life.
In order to have an in-depth understanding of these two words – “Identity” and “Role” – let’s take a look at the human being’s unique position in life. Each of us is, at the same time, both a unique individual and yet an integral part of a fairly uniform social order. If you were forever alone in the world, never seeing, meeting or associating with another person, you would be like the rock resting in the sands of the lakeshore. At the core would lie your unquestioned Identity. You would be the person you elected to be; the person you “see yourself to be,” one hundred percent of the time. You’d be like the rock: warm, smooth, and pleasing. In other words, your Identity is composed of only those things you have learned to be or feel: your values, beliefs, principals, desires, self-image and emotions. A rock lying in the sand doesn’t stir any water; it sends out no vibration or waves.
Once the rock is tossed into the water, obviously the rings and ripples begin to emanate. Once you are tossed into contact with the social order, you begin to project or adopt Roles in society that may vary, either slightly or extremely, from your true Identity. Role-playing is a necessary function of social living. Instead of being the “me I think I am”, you may sometimes – even often – find it expedient to be the “me I want others to think I am.” These Identity and Role factors are becoming known in the psychology world as the I/R Theory.
As a child, the Roles you adopted in your society were uncomplicated; you were a son or daughter, a student, a pal, a playmate. But as you grew older, your Roles became more numerous and more complex. They may have included husband or wife, father or mother, friend, neighbor, employee, boss, community leader and so on. More and more rings made their way from your rock on the shoreline.
If you had been all alone to form your Identity you would have developed a fixed identity that was undisturbed. You could travel through life with a consistent relationship between your Identity and all
your Roles. But you are not alone. In our social structure, it’s as though there are other people standing around the lake, tossing in rocks, sending out their own rings. You notice places where their rings intersect with yours. Sometimes the rings of others are so strong that their rings completely override yours; at other times their rings seem to be following the same path as your rings. In any case, you begin to have difficulty distinguishing your rings, your Roles, from those of others. The confusion resulting from the interweaving of the ripples on the lake makes it more difficult for you to identify clearly the relationship between your true Identity and your adopted Roles.
The I/R Theory has been developed to make that relationship more readily understood, to bridge the gap between your Identity and the Roles that you perform in life. This theory also helps you to reduce the number of inconsistencies that exist. The Identity which you have (your “I” factor) has a direct bearing on how you perform in your Roles (your “R” factor). If these two are in harmony with reality, the probability that you’ll be productive is relatively high. However, if they are inconsistent, you may experience frustration, stress, dissatisfaction and you may be nonproductive.
You perceive reality during every waking moment. You take in information and evaluate it; you make decisions about whether the things you perceive are good or bad for you and all of this information become part of your Identity. This information comes to you through you. Besides the information obtained through your own personal experience, you receive additional information through other sources. Parents and teachers instruct you, and friends tell you of their experiences, the media “informs” you; they all pass along additional information to you, which you may not have had the opportunity to experience yourself personally. Whatever portion of this information you believe to be true at the moment becomes part of your Identity. Your perception of reality is also affected by the interaction of your physiological make-up with reality. Your capabilities and limitations have direct bearing on the impact you will make on the world around you. Your world is affected by what you believe you can and cannot do, and that, too, becomes part of your Identity.
During your school years, there was no room on your report card for Identity achievement, but there was always plenty of room for Role achievement. Can you remember ever hearing, “your child doesn’t do well with numbers; but be happy Mr. and Mrs. Smith your little darling has a healthy self-concept.” Most report cards ended right before the “…but.” In other words, much of your growing up time consisted of jumping a series of bars to prove you had worth. When you made a successful leap, you were led to believe you were “worth” more. When you failed, you got the message you were “worthless.” As time went on, you mistakenly accepted role-failure and Identity Failure or I-failure. You were not told that role-failure or role success, for that matter, should have no effect on your self-image. You were an I-10 (Identity – a perfect 10) when you started life, and role success and failure was only a measure of how well you were doing in your acquired roles. Role-success in no way measures your worth as a human being.
How do you return to you I-10 Identity? The answer is attitude. Attitude is the single ingredient that above all else determines your rating of yourself. Those who see themselves as an I-10 expect to win, want to win, strive to win and say, “I will not be denied.” I-10’s have self-confidence, self-assurance and a no-limits belief in them self.
Do not get the idea; however, that I am saying merely wishing can make it so. There is a great deal of difference between a wisher and a winner. You can perform in your roles only in a manner that is consistent with how you see yourself conceptually. If you see your Identity as a middle of the pack (I-5) you can only perform in your rolls somewhere between a 4 and a 6.
An I-10 expects to win based on realistic planning, preparation and progressive action. I-10 person’s goal is to attain the highest excellence in their field, not just to be above average. When you see yourself as an I-10 you will welcome new challenges. You will never feel threaten. You will be excited, delighted and pleased. You will be a human being instead of a human doing. With hard work and a positive attitude anything is possible.