The Sun of Role Sociometry
Dedicated to the memory of Anne Hale, MA.TEP, who lovingly taught me sociometry
Theoretical background: Sociometry
The science of sociometry was created by J.L. Moreno and was the foundation for a later developed psychodrama
Sociometric exercises allow us to measure the relationship of proximity and distance between our current state and a desired state. They reveal what was covert and make it overt, to reflect for us a hidden reality. We become co-researchers as sociometry presents to us a sort of “X-ray” reflection of things that are in our subconscious and are influencing our choices.
It is customary to use sociometric exercises in groups where they are done in action using the available space (room, stage). Some sociometric exercises are done using a pen and paper (such as the social atom). There are also sociometric exercises that the individual can do independently or under the guidance of a coach or therapist and gain far-reaching insights in a short time.
During the time of the Corona pandemic, I created a Sociometric exercise entitled “Sun of Roles”. Before I move on to the description of the exercise, I want to say a few words about role-theory.
Dr. J.L. Moreno said, “The self emerges from the roles we play.” Simply put, the roles we play in our lives help our Self to evolve and expand. This happens as we allow more roles to be embodied on the stage of our lives.
A role has been defined by Moreno as the tangible forms the Self embodies, and all roles have somatic, psychodramatic and social components. According to his philosophy, the different roles we have are learned from the moment we were born. Each role is being learned and developed in the context of relationships with our environment.
This is a developmental process from birth to maturity. In each stage a person learns an array of roles which help them to develop and build a sense of Self. The urge to develop and grow drives us throughout our lives, whether consciously or not.
Who among us does not feel the longing to be a better version of themself, to elevate ourselves to the next level of awareness?
The Corona and lock-down periods brought many of us to new places in our inner journey. The loneliness provided time to reflect, and it motivated us to re-examine relationships and choices we made including our careers and how we spent our time. It forced us to face challenges and think “and what next”?
What made me create the exercise?
I created the ” Sun of Roles” exercise spontaneously during the first wave of the Corona. I decided to explore which of the roles in my life “declined” during the period, and which “emerged” – allowing me to feel good and optimistic about myself during this challenging period. This was the first model I’ve ever created.
In this investigation I used a simple model which I drew on paper:
I drew a “sun” with yellow rays. I then wrote down the names of all the roles in my life and I used a different color for the rays that represented new roles that emerged and grew during the Corona Virus time period. I used another color for rays representing a role I recognize that seeks to materialize in my life.
In the next stage I divided the roles into categories using colors as noted in the following diagram:
The drawing gave me a clear “map” of reference, an “X-ray” that allowed me to identify a process that was taking place for me. I then asked myself questions such as: Am I happy with what is happening? Is there a role on the horizon that awaits me and if so, what is preventing me from fulfilling it? Which roles do I like more and which less? Which of the roles that have “declined ” do I miss? And what do I have to do to revive them? These kinds of questions can certainly constitute a warm-up for psychodramatic activity with an individual or a group.
Over time, following the metaphor of the sun, I continued to develop the model and added more layers that deepened the experience.
I added more directions: The directions of East, where the sun rises, to represent the new roles that ascended, and the direction of West, where the sun sets to represent roles that descended.
When I was offered to host a meeting of colleagues in psychodrama from around the world at “Tele’Cafe” on Zoom, I decided to present the model. It was received with great enthusiasm. My colleagues came up with ideas on how to concretize the model and “move it” from the paper to the psychodrama stage.
The drawing makes it possible to examine where there is a gap between what is desired and what is found, and this gap is a field for psychodramatic inquiry.
At the end of the evening, I stayed for a brainstorming session with Mark Wentworth, the person who invited me to lead the evening. Mark really liked the model and suggested, following the metaphor of the rising and setting sun, to add the Zenith direction (12:00 “Noon”) as a symbol of the role that leads you now in your life. I got excited about the idea and immediately added the “north” direction. Then I felt compelled to add the “south” and set it as a place where I could list the burned-out roles, what in psychodrama we call “role fatigue”.
It is important to make the distinction between a role that has declined and a role that has been burned-out. A declining role can be influenced by an external reality (for example: I cannot lead a live group now because of the pandemic situation. Right now I have to be creative and direct a group on zoom. This declining role can again become a leading role when the situation changes. It does not imply that I have lost interest in this role
A burned-out role is a role I feel tired of executing. I might feel I need to take a leave from it for now or maybe let go of it forever.
Guidelines for the Sun of Roles Exercise:
It is a simple yet profound exercise, which each person can do alone to have a “reflection” of their set of roles. This role diagram will tangibly show what exists, what seeks to be liberated and what seeks to be revealed in their current life.
This exercise can be done with groups as well as with individuals. It is more powerful when you take it off the paper to the stage in action, but you also benefit from doing it on paper on your own and in a quick and short process, the exercise will gift you with insights.
Think about all the roles you play in your life and make a list.
For example: mother, spouse, sister, daughter, business owner / employee, housekeeper, lover, good friend, neighbor (as detailed as possible).
Take white paper and a yellow pencil and draw a circle in the center. Inside it write your name and draw rays out of the circle. Near each ray right down a role from your list.
Now take a close look at your “sun”. Is it full? Is it empty?
Is there a role you would like to take “time off” from? (Role Fatigue)
Are there roles that have “disappeared” from your life? (E.g. I can no longer list “wife” in my chart because I am divorced).
Does your sun have room for another role in your life? Is there another role waiting for you, that has not been recognized or fulfilled in your reality yet, that you would like to express?
Can you identify the role that is the leading role in your life?
(It is possible to take a shortcut and start with this step right after the role list, but I have found that Step A helps in getting a general picture and encourages spontaneous thinking before the sorting work that begins now)
Draw again a yellow circle in the center of the page and write “I” in the middle.
At the four edges of the paper add a letter symbolizing the directions: North, South, East, West
Next to the west (where the sun sets), draw as many numbers of rays as the number of roles you identified as “declining” – referring to roles that may still be active but significantly reduced than in the previous year. Write down the names of each role.
Next to the east (where the sun rises), draw the number of rays to match the number of roles you identified that have recently emerged on the stage of your life. Write their names
Alongside the south side of the paper, draw rays to equal the number of roles you feel “burned out”, tired, and that you would like to give up. Name these roles.
Alongside the north, draw a ray that represents the leading role in your life – here and now. Name that role.
0n the East side of the paper, draw another ray (possibly more than one) in a different color (not yellow) with the name of the role(s) still waiting to be fulfilled.
It’s time to make further inquiries either individually or in the psychodrama group.
Look at the drawing and do the following:
- Rate next to each role your current level of satisfaction from that role (where 1 indicates “dissatisfied” and 5 indicates “very satisfied”)
- Think about what you can do to achieve or increase satisfaction. What prevents you?
- Focus on the role you want to develop. What would you need in order to fulfill it? Is there anything that prevents you from fulfilling it right now?
These and similar questions will allow you to identify where you want to “grow” and develop.
This exercise was created during the time of the Virus Corona. It provided a perspective and helped me and others to identify gains during this time (in the context of roles) and not focus just on what has been lost.
More generally, it can be done at any time of transition from year to year, or any changes in life. I hope you can make good use of it, and I welcome to hear about your creativity as you work with it. I am happy to hear your feedback.