Knowing your role can dramatically improve your self-confidence. Role Theory, according to social psychology, is a set of action-defined considerations, rights, expectations, and duties of everyday activity and social behaviours that a person has to fulfil. Every culture has different set of social norms that vary based on cultural learning and conditioning. 

The expectation is that people act within the roles they adopt, and encourage others to act within their expected roles. As soon as we come into the world, we are given a role by our primary carers. We are expected to behave, act and perform in certain ways. As we grow and learn through social conditioning, we develop our own internal schemas about our role, based on what we see, read and experience. 

When we interact with others, we subtly send non-verbal messages through our body language and behaviours. Here we conform to our roles and develop social identity and a sense of who we are based our rank in the group. According to Social Identity Theory, belonging to a group (such as family, social class, community, religious group, etc.) promotes our sense of belonging, pride and self-esteem which in turn lead to self-confidence.

Being in groups gives a person a sense of security and safety, essential for survival. But belonging to groups also has its disadvantages. As we conform, we embrace ideologies and negative aspects too. We become influenced by group ethos and expectations. We are forced to adopt the roles that are dictated to us by others, in an effort to please those around us. The longer we continue to be naïve about our roles, the more power we relinquish. We become easily influenced by others and our role boundaries are stretched and blurred, as we allow others to fight over us. We develop prejudiced views and biased thinking, dividing thinking into ‘them’ and ‘us’ to discriminate outsiders and out-group members. At this point, we lose sense of our own personality. If we allow this to happen continuously, we are given a label in the group as being weak, a push-over, a helper, a person who cannot say no.

Suddenly, we are in conflict from within. The initial security of belonging no longer holds the benefit of safety and security. As the conflict divides our internal moral codes, we question our roles in the group, who we are and our values. When the conflict is not resolved (internally), we lose confidence in being our true self. 

In order to maintain or regain that confidence, and increase positive self-image, you need to balance the powers of each of your roles, in various relationships. By getting out of your comfort zone and the safety net of the familiar in-groups, and engaging and interacting with others, you can learn new thinking, grow and find a new way of being.

You can choose to stay within the roles that you were given or venture out and explore the endless possibilities of other roles yet to be discovered.

Over to you, the choice is yours.