Inner & Outer Roles

In Realtionship, Uncategorized on August 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm

At the Center for Right Relationship, we talk about Outer and Inner Roles as essential structures in relationship. The former describes an executive function and usually has a job description: CEO, Mother, Piano Tuner. The latter refers to the emotional functions in relationship: nurturer, initiator, peace-maker.

Recently I was doing some work around my own Inner Roles with a colleague. At supper, I’d described a way in which I am always accommodating in relationship. This is so natural to me, I rarely notice it is happening, until I begin to feel ripped off somehow, as though I never quite get my turn. It simply doesn’t occur to me to say what I want or even voice my opinion about a matter until so much tension has built up inside that I’m making a speech with wild gestures in the restaurant. Sometimes on an unrelated topic.

Or I walk away dissatisfied because I never said what was on my mind.

This role can make me tired.

So I began to play with other roles, less familiar to me, and came up with The One Who Claims Things for Himself. The gesture I came up with to express that had me step forward and reach out to grab something in front of me. There was a fierceness about the gesture that I found invigorating.

My colleague had me go back to explore the gesture of accommodation, and I came up with hands moving out from the heart, and then I bowed. When I slowed it down, I discovered a great deal of generosity and honoring in it. Not all bad, this accommodation, but too much too often, and I grow bone weary and resentful.

Then it occurred to me to combine the two gestures: the one of claming and the one of accommodation, and in doing so, I found out something about sinking in to scoop it up (attention, new ideas, acknowledgement) and draw it into my heart. It was out of this new energy that I could then offer to others. A workable compromise.

Some of the people we passed on the way back to my colleague’s hotel gave us curious looks, for I kept sinking and scooping and filling my heart and then opening it to offer the World.

But what of the fierceness that I found so invigorating?

In what way does that want to be given expression in my relationships?

  1. I love that your “Chooser” honors both/and, not just either/or…

    • Thanks, Suzanne, and I like the sense that the roles can also remain distinct and one can occupy them at different times and in different ways. Really important to remember here that roles are not people. People occupy roles.

  2. Easy to picture you making accommodating and taking gestures. Thought-inspiring, leaving me to wonder about my own roles and accompanying gestures.

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