Four Steps to Show Up For Yourself
I’ve talked to people about their careers, their relationships, their family, their friends. But no matter what the topic is at hand or what barrier a client is facing in life, we usually end up starting with how they can better show up for themselves.
The phrase “be yourself” is nice I guess, we hear it often. But phewwwwwie that is a loaded couple of words if you’re not really firm on what that means. And I am 100% positive I’m not alone in the fight to still figure out who I am and what my purpose is.
In order to be myself, I need to first show up for myself. Being my best true self to me means finding a life where I can continuously live in ways I actually prefer. If I have continuity in my life, it’s because I am continuously doing what I like, what comes natural.
There’s the true self and there’s the role self. The role self is just that - the roles in our lives that make up who we are. The spouse, the parent, the friend, the student, the teacher, etc. We all have several roles or “hats” we wear. But the role self is not who we are, it’s more what we do. So how do we figure out who we are?
Before I share the Myers-Briggs assessment with my clients I always do the following exercise. Go grab a pen and sign your name on a piece of paper nearby.
Now, switch the pen into your non-dominant hand and sign underneath that first signature.
Phew, good work. How did that first one feel? Probably natural, easy, comfortable. While the second signature felt awkward, unnatural, you had to work a little harder for it.
This is how I want you to look at your life “in preference”. A life in preference is natural, easy and comfortable. You don’t have to feel awkward, uncomfortable or work hard to be yourself. It comes easy to you and you don’t have to think about who you are, you simply are. Exactly like you didn’t have to think about what hand to pick the pen up with - you went right for it. When you’re in preference, you’re yourself, and you can simply be.
Figuring out how to live a life in preference is a big and beautiful undertaking, one that some people work hard into their elder years to achieve. But let’s not get overwhelmed, let’s break it down. Before we can live our lives in preference, we need to first know how to show up for ourselves.
Step 1: Notice what you’re experiencing and feeling
Any type of self-inventory or awareness in these areas of your life is freakin’ awesome in my book. It’s easy to go on autopilot, ignore yourself, and sleepwalk through life. But awareness is progress. So take the time to notice. Which areas in my life are natural, easy and comfortable? Which areas are a little more effort and maybe even awkward or uncomfortable?
Take note. Become aware.
Step 2: Trust that your experience is valid
You’ve noticed a feeling you have. Now I’m asking you to trust that as valid. Don’t try to make too much sense of it, don’t try to talk yourself out of it. The feeling is there for a reason and that alone makes it valid. Validation from other people or institutions is not necessary because you are going to learn how to do that for you.
Keep reading, my friend.
Step 3: Keep yourself relevant
Now that you’ve noticed a feeling show up and you’re treating it like a real thing (because it is), you are well on your way to making yourself more relevant than you ever did without the first 2 steps.
Notice how it’s not “put yourself first”. We’re not working on that here because to be honest, it’s not always the cut and dry solution. Here we’re noticing a feeling as it is, and giving it the attention it deserves. It’s not right, it’s not wrong - it’s simply there and we’re making it relevant.
If you want to be seen, you need to make yourself visible.
Step 4: Find continuity in your life
In finding continuity in your life, you are you no matter where you are or who you’re with. Picture a line on a graph going across the page - this symbolizes you being your true self. The line shouldn’t be jumping up when you’re with your friends, then swooping down when you’re at work, then finally being steady when you get home to your dog. The goal is to have that continuity consistently throughout your life.
So you (1) become aware of your feelings. You (2) accept them as they are. You (3) make yourself relevant in your actions and decisions. Then you’ll (4) find yourself in more and more scenarios that actually feel good and true to you. When you check in with yourself, trust yourself and make decisions according to what feels true to you - I know you can and will achieve continuity.
Are your friends giving you that - right hand, go-to, don’t have to think, pick up the pen and sign my name - type of feeling? Or is it more that - awkward, uncomfortable, struggle through, and work hard for the left handed signature - type of feeling?
What about your career?
If you’re living a life that’s out of preference, don’t panic. Read the steps again and start with you.
Self inventory is not easy. But it’s very powerful and in my opinion, something that can change the trajectory of your life. Your relationship with yourself can and should be as essential of a duty as your full-time job, being a parent, spouse, friend or showing up for any of those other very important roles you have in your life.
How can you show up for these people in your life if you aren’t showing up for yourself?
Each of these steps can take months, maybe years. It’s hard work. But living a life everyday that takes as much effort as writing with your non-dominant hand...that’s much harder work.