From Role to Soul

I read “The Inner Work of Age – shifting from Role to Soul” earlier this year and it received that “Yesss!” response from me. Here was something I could relate to, understand and learn from. Not only was it an excellent read, it was a nudge and a reminder of things I’d forgotten. It flagged up things I’d either been mulling over or had received sudden insights about.

Author Connie Zweig, a retired psychotherapist, draws on her personal experience of being an Elder alongside her professional work with others, also Elders, travelling the path from role to soul. She likens Elders to teachers or mentors, those who willingly pass on the wisdom of their life experience, not from a place of ego, or of needing recognition for their know how, but simply because they are at ease with themselves just as they are and don’t need to prove anything, or be how others might “expect” them to be.

Zweig suggests that as Elders, behaving in this way, give hard-won knowledge to the next generation, welcoming a new generation of seekers and agents of change. The ego is set aside; it has no place when role or roles, which might have defined us during our more active working life, are dropped as the essence of soul begins to find it’s place.

Whilst reading the book and reviewing my own status as Elder (yes, I’m old enough for this) I had some significant, transformative experiences and insights as I’d been evaluating myself and my relationships, contacts and friendships – their value, importance and permanence. I examined the depth, richness and quality of my current interactions with others, and realised that I’d become far more selective and discriminating about who I choose to spend time with. No longer willing to waste time or energy or pussyfooting about with relationships which don’t hit the spot for me, I’m far more comfortable now being straight, truthful and outspoken.

Because of this, friendships which go way back have been tested. One failed appallingly and has been discarded. Was this person ever really and truly my friend? Never.

Others of long standing have been rekindled and shuffle along without much interaction, but this, when it occurs, is always good. New friendships have been formed, and the pleasure when this happens is the recognition that we are singing from the same hymnsheet and have plenty in common.

In this Elder phase of life, I’m far more perceptive and discriminating about who I can trust and who I can’t. Learning to trust, listen to and act on my intuition has been an important lesson, and a reminder of something I’d either forgotten or wasn’t attentive or sharply enough honed to take note of.

As for my “role”, I’m not really clear if I now have one! Yes, I’m a retired teacher and as such I can always seize what is called “the teachable moment” with children and adults alike. Once a teacher, always a teacher and I’ve often had random people ask “Are you a teacher?” (Yes, always, but retired it’s a lot easier being a volunteer in the classroom rather than being in charge!).

I’ve made personal and psychological changes to myself and my outlook over the past year, and I’ve questioned what my role, if any, is meant to be – or if I even need a “role”. Volunteering is one way Elders shift from role to soul – they become more involved in sharing their skills and knowledge and energy in society, for the benefit of others. And of course, they get a lot back from doing so, quietly being themselves and not needing the ego boost.

Recommended reading, to find out more:

The Inner Work of Age – Shifting from Role to Soul by Connie Zweig

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2 thoughts on “From Role to Soul

  1. First of all, it’s great to have your voice back on this platform, Joyce. Hurray! Secondly, you have definitely piqued my interest in this topic. I’ve got to go get myself a copy of this book. Thanks for a thought-provoking intro. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

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