by Jerry Marrs, Transition and Communication Coach
We use descriptors to tell people who we are. For example, I am a husband, I am a father, I am divorced, I am retired military, I am a friend, I am a life coach, etc. We also tend to use these descriptors to define who we are to ourselves and others. However, descriptors are not definitions of one’s true being, but rather examples of the roles one plays in life.
Many people use the roles they play to define themselves, but when something goes wrong, they are left lost, confused, and hurt because a part of them no longer exists. The goal of transitional coaching is to help find one’s true definition of self. A definition that is not dependent upon the roles one plays, but rather a definition of one’s core being. Your core being is a combination of your innate sense of self which came with you into this world and who you choose to be to live the most fulfilling life possible.
For most of my life I was convinced I was put on this earth to be a husband and a father. I continuously strived, and frequently failed, to be the best husband and father possible. I defined myself by these roles. When my first wife and I divorced, it was devastating to my sense of self as I was no longer a husband, but now an ex-husband. I was no longer a father, but now a divorced dad. I always coached my boys in their sporting activities, but as a single person I felt ashamed, awkward, and out of place with the families. I decided that others must be judging me and questioning why I was divorced. I was creating a reality for me that had no basis in truth but was driven by my own insecurities because I was not being true to my core being.
I have since learned, and continuously hone, who I am at my core. I am Jerry. I am love. I am compassion. I am a child of God and am placed on this earth to be love to those around me. This is the very core of my being. This is the only yardstick I can use to determine if I am succeeding or failing in this life. My core being drives everything else in my life. When I am not true to myself, I feel the sting of regret, embarrassment, and realize I can be better. This core drives all my relationships and effects the roles I play in life. Because I am love, I act as a wonderful husband (most of the time) to my lovely wife, I act as a devoted father, and I act as an incredible friend and confidant.
Transitional coaching is designed to help individuals determine who they are at their core and to remain true to their being. It demands they learn to redefine themselves in a manner that is not dependent upon the roles they play. This is not an easy task. It requires work, dedication, and a resolve to see it through to the end, followed by the resolve to live it throughout life.
As discussed above, divorce can be devastating. When our definition of self is dependent upon others, we give others control over us. When our definition demands that someone else act in a specific manner, we give them control over us. In life, we truly control only one thing – ourselves. As part of my document (daily affirmations which will be discussed in another post), I state:
“I am in control of me. I control no other and no other controls me.”
When we define ourselves as a husband, wife, mother, father, friend, executive, officer, etc., we give others power to destroy our definitions of ourselves. You can consider yourself the very best spouse in the whole world, be loving, devoted, faithful, and 100% committed to your marriage. But if this is your definition of self, the moment your spouse asks for a divorce, has an affair, criticizes your cooking, denigrates your appearance, or simply chooses to not be present, your definition of who you are crumbles. Additional common scenarios that cause a break down of our definitions of self includes the loss of a spouse or family member, loss of parent when a child has been the primary caregiver, serious or long-term health struggles, being laid-off, career changes, retirement, and sending the kids to college.
We also rely on others to tell us if we are succeeding or failing when we define ourselves by our roles. However, what others think does not matter. You cannot control what someone thinks about you. You may try and control the narrative, but any action you take, any word you speak, is going to be judged by others not by your criteria, but by theirs. For example, if you start a new job and are working very hard to succeed and fit in, rather than being seen as a great worker, others may view you as power hungry, a brown-noser, selfish, or manipulative. There is nothing you can do to change this as you have no control over them.
There is only one thing you must be -- true to your core being. There is only one person that can judge your success or failure -- you. Your core being is not dependent upon any role you play. No matter what situation you find yourself in it is possible to remain true to your core being.