Sandler’s I/R Theory (Identity/Role) represents the dual nature of our lives. Each of us has an “I” and an “R.” Our “I” represents our values, beliefs, principles, desires and emotions–our inner selves. Our “R” is made up of the many roles we play in our lives, or our outer selves. These roles include son, daughter, friend, student, salesperson, etc.
The I/R model was developed to define the relationship between those two parts of our whole and to help distinguish between them. Although they are separate, they affect each other.
If we confuse our role performances with our values as a human being, our self-image will go up and down with each performance. Regardless of the level of our self-image, we constantly work to bring our performance into line with that self-image. Therefore, if we translate our “I” perception as a rating between 1 and 10, without a 10 rating for our self-image, our role performance will be limited.
How do you rate your “I”?
If you rate your “I” between 8 and 10, you are a winner: you have a healthy self-image. You feel good about yourself most of the time, no matter how you are performing in your roles.
If you rate yourself between 4 and 7, you are an at-leaster: if things go fairly well on your “R” side, you feel pretty good about yourself. If your role performance goes badly, you work to get back to average. People in this position tell themselves, “I may not be a winner, but at least I’m not a loser”.
If you rate your “I” between 0 and 3, you’re in the category of non-winner: you allow your role performance to affect how you feel about yourself. That poor self-image affects your performance, putting you in a cycle of self-defeating attitudes and behaviours.
The I/R Theory demonstrates the importance of separating “who you “I'” from “what you ‘R.'”. Essentially, if you want to fix your performance, your earnings etc (your R), you need to first focus on and fix your self-image, view of yourself (your I).