Carnaval Challenge: Two questions to reverse your life (if only for a day) + pdf + video

by Caroline van Kimmenade

Carnaval is in town. Noise, booze and lots of people doing the-same-kind-of-crazy.

Essentially and historically though, carnaval (at least here in Limburg, the southern province of the Netherlands) is about creative role reversal. The mayor hands over the ‘keys of the city’ to the people. The people choose their own ruler(s) amongst themselves and they….do stuff (a.k.a., drink and yell). I always avoid the whole thing as best as I can, though in theory, the idea is fascinating. So, as I was going through my yearly carnaval ranting (especially on twitter) I thought: could I make carnaval into a true role reversal fest? If only, just for one person? If only just for one day?


I thought these would be the questions to ask:

1. What are some of the roles I’ve created for myself, and how could I reverse them, if only for a day?

2. What are some of the ways in which I feel controlled by an authority and how would I like to reverse that?

I think those authorities don’t need to be just people or institutions. They could also be ideals to try to live up to, certain “traditions”, beliefs, even values. More like authoriTIES. Any ties.

Here’s why role-reversing is important: when we always respond to particular things in the same way, no matter what, then that leaves us with effectively no choices. When we feel compelled to always play a certain role or always obey a particular ‘authority’* without thinking, then we can really get stuck (I should know!). The roles can start to take over our lives and seriously cripple our freedom to choose the best course of action in each situation.

*Obviously I am not suggesting anyone break any laws here. So if you -yes you, in the back, with the green shorts- want to be punk for a day, make sure you don’t blow up any buildings o.k.? And if you do it anyway, don’t do it because you mistakenly thought I said so. There, that’s done. While we’re at it: no animals were harmed in the making of this post. Let’s continue.

Often we don’t even realize how many limiting roles we stick to, until we are forced to abandon them.

For me, crashing with severe adrenal fatigue in 2009 pushed me to reverse a lot of limiting roles. As hard as that was, it was definitely worth it! Being an A-type high achiever has its debilitating limits (it really does, and I never realized how much it was holding me back!). So, when I was able to stand up in front of an audience recently and respond to a simple question with “I don’t know” (without stressing out about it) that was a proud moment. Caring less when caring truly isn’t helpful, has been a huge eye opener for me. Of course, if not caring comes easily to you, then caring more is definitely worth trying, but if you are an HSP or empath, my ‘guess’ is that “caring more” is not something you’d need to practice.

Going home at 5pm whether my work is done or not, is another one of those role-reversals. In my old job, I was always making over-hours because I wanted to get everything done. Now, I choose. Sometimes, I make a little overtime to finish something. Overall, I’ve found that going home in time is just a better all-round deal for me. If you have a lot of judgement around the 9-to-5 attitude, this could be a good role to look into!

So I am proclaiming this Carnaval to be a celebration of roles reversed, authorities ignored*, and discoveries made and also of new reversals on the horizon…Care to join me? I’ve made a DIY reversal-sheet! Print it /memorize it/ eat it / improve it/ share it/ enjoy it! here: role reversal worksheet

ALAAF! (that’s the carnaval cheer)


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