What hat are you wearing?

Can you list all your roles you are taking in everyday life?  For me, I am a counsellor, a mum, a partner, a friend, a trainer, a committee member, etc…. the list goes on. How about you? How many hats do you have?  You might feel overwhelmed when you look at the list, realizing the multiple roles you are taking, even simultaneously at times. There is a reason why you sometimes feel worn out, confused, or misunderstood despite all your good effort and intentions.

“A person is described as a portfolio of his or her roles played on the stages of his or her world… A role is a coherent system of attitudes, behaviours, perspectives on reality, and accompanying relationships.” (B. Schmid, 2008, p20)

Roles are categorized into 3 areas :

(1) Private roles (being a mum, a son, or a spouse)

(2) Professional roles (being a school teacher, a doctor, or a financial advisor)

(3) Organizational roles (being a manager, or a team representative.)

When we categorize our roles, we will see clearer boundaries of our roles. 

We ‘inhabit’ roles and they become part of our psychological meaning making. Each role has expected behaviours, thoughts, feelings and relationships attached to it. A lot of difficulties that arise in life are due to issues regarding role boundaries, and differences in understanding a role.

How often do we hear a spouse say ‘I just want you to LISTEN’ while the other, in the best of his/her intention, tries to SOLVE the problem just as he/she does at ‘the workplace’ as a result of keeping ‘the company worker’s’ hat, rather than wearing ‘the spouse who expresses support’ hat. 

Thus, the sense of not feeling good, or insufficiency of self may not be anything to do with one’s capability. Rather, it might just be a misunderstanding of a role among the people involved in. So when you feel confused, take a moment to reflect what hat you are wearing at that given moment, and what it entails in its relationship. It will help you clarify some of the confusion and uneasiness.

Written by:
Rie Miura
SACAC Counselling

Bernd Schmid (2008) The Role Concept of Transactional Analysis and other Approaches to Personality, Encounter, and Cocreativity for All Professional Fields, Transactional Analysis Journal, 38:1, 17-30,

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