How the roles we play interact with our abilities
It’s Sunday, I have to start working again tomorrow, and I am hesitant, anxious, feeling unprepared, unready, and simply not capable! It’s no fun. It’s deeply concerning. I remember back in my school days, I would experience the same kind of dread on Sundays. School was tomorrow and I didn’t feel like I could do it. I now know that many people have these feelings about work and school and I also know now that it makes sense.
We have many inner resources. But those inner resources are available only in certain ways and certain times. What I have discovered is that they are available when I am in the “role” associated with that resource. When I am staring at the wall on Sunday, scared that I have to teach again on Monday, after a relaxing Spring Break, I am not in my “teacher” role. I am in “chill” role. “Teacher” Mark has been put aside for a week as “chill” Mark has been up front chillin’ out doing what “he” likes to do: skiing, gardening, splitting wood, and other fun hobbies and habits. “Chill” Mark doesn’t know how to teach and doesn’t care about teaching. No wonder I am terrified and feel incapable! And in reverse, the same is true. “Teacher” Mark has no desire to spilt wood or clean the raspberry patch and doesn’t even know how! If I am in “teacher” mode trying to garden I feel less anxious but equally inept and I get out of the soil knowing I am not in the right frame of mind to do this activity.
It is so important to understand how this works. Life is so much easier when we are in the right frame of mind. The “right” frame of mind being the one that is fully capable of doing that certain activity. Most of us can relate to being in a certain work situation but being fully consumed by an issue unrelated to work: form example, an argument with our spouse or child, the illness or dying of a loved one, etc. In these situations, we are not in the right frame of mind to succeed. If we are in “relationship” mindset at work, worrying about our spouse or child, work feels impossible – that is like trying to put a square peg on a round hole.
We all have many “inner selves” or “roles” we play, or frames of mind, or states of consciousness. We can call them any of these things. The key is to know how to move in and out of these mindsets at will. Or at least to understand how this works and accept the rocky process as it unfolds. When we come home from work but keep in our work role, we will not have a harmonious relationship-time with our family. But we can understand this process, acknowledge it to ourselves and our spouses, and not get too bent out of shape about it. The simple act of acknowledgement usually is enough to initiate the shift to the proper role, in this case “husband” Mark or “dad” Mark. Simply saying “I’m not in the right frame of mind” can ease everyone’s tensions.
The much-needed R & R rejuvenated me this Spring Break week as I left my exhausted teacher in the back of the bus. And exhausted he was. My final week of teaching came after three weeks without a day off and having produced a show- I really was “done”, spent, out of creative juices. That last week was tough! I had to be in teacher mode as I was scheduled to work. But boy did my teacher resist! Teacher Mark was too tired, with no creativity to offer, no lessons to teach, empty.
What I have learned over the years is to let the students teach themselves at these times. So I have my dancers choreograph together for themselves and they have great fun. I let my actors act or read through their scripts while I remain mostly silent and observe. In short, I don’t ask myself to be creative and I put the onus on the classes, and they always love those times.
So, Monday is here. Teacher Mark is beginning to emerge. I trust that by my first class I will be fully ready. I am feeling the excitement. I can’t wait to see my students…