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  • Writer's pictureCristina Stone

Who am I When I am Not?

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

How do we mourn and work through the inevitable loss of identity and purpose that comes with having to let go of a key role?

A recent conversation with a dear friend, about a looming retirement date, brought to mind the question of what happens when key (and often life-sustaining) roles that we assume in life, suddenly come to an end? And when such a role is fundamental to providing financial security, status, intellectual stimulation, personal fulfilment and human connections, such as our work, how do we prepare for when the time to let go has come? And how fundamental is work to our identity and our sense of purpose? It has become natural to see a person’s profession as a defining detail of who they are, and for many of us, defining ourselves by what we do is just as natural but, does that come at our expense? Is it important to separate our perceptions of who we are from our professional lives? What and who are we beyond the roles we play? Marshall Rosenberg (1934- 2015), the American psychologist, mediator, author and teacher, said that there are 9 self-explanatory human needs:

Affection, freedom, participation, creation, identity, protection, recreation, understanding, subsistence.

Which of these needs does work fulfil for you? What will be at risk when the time comes to give it up? How might the need for reinventing yourself present a chance to engage in a fresh way of thinking, that will make starting over an exciting and compelling ambition? How will you begin? How soon should you start?

Best wishes,


Copyright ©️ CS Coaching. Photography by C Stone.

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