It’s the most important thing we can do for ourselves, even though it’s often the hardest. Yet, we do it naturally for our loved ones and friends. All the time.
It is showing up.
When our best friend is sick, we stop by with soup (and support) in hand. When our cousin has a baby, we come over to do laundry and wash dishes. When a close friend needs to talk, we carve out time during a hectic workweek, and intently listen and say, “I’m here.”
We build safe spaces for our loved ones to be vulnerable. We accept them for who they are.
When they’re struggling, we take the weight off their shoulders, put it on the floor, and find them a chair to sit in. We attend birthdays and weddings and lunch dates and funerals. It’s not easy but we try not to turn away from the pain.
But for some reason—or many reasons—showing up for ourselves feels difficult.
But it doesn’t have to be. Because we can practice. We get the opportunity to practice showing up for ourselves every day. And practice makes progress.
We can show up for ourselves by being honest about what’s on our minds, about what’s inside our hearts, and about what we need.
We can show up for ourselves when uncomfortable emotions arise, even though all we want to do is sprint far, far away. Instead, we sit with them. We journal about them. We share these feelings with our partner or a friend. And we show up by forgiving ourselves when we don’t do any of these things.
We can show up for ourselves by saying ‘no’ to what no longer serves us: people, places, habits, systems, objects.
We can show up by celebrating, savoring and congratulating ourselves on our big and small triumphs—whether that’s crossing everything off the day’s to-do list or acing an exam or getting a promotion or journaling about a hard day.
We can show up by not skipping plans with ourselves. That is, we stay committed to doing the things that nourish our emotional, mental, physical, financial and spiritual well-being. We see these things as important meetings we’d rarely miss. This might include anything from attending a therapy appointment to practicing yoga at 5 p.m. to getting our taxes done to going to a dental cleaning (yes, yes, even that).
We can show up for ourselves by listening to our dreams and wishes, and brainstorming how we can make them come true, one simple, tiny step at a time.
We can show up for ourselves by reflecting on the challenges in our lives, the lessons we’re learning, and how we’re growing right now—and what we’d like to learn, and how we’d like to grow.
We can show up for ourselves by participating in activities that we love, in activities that make us laugh and smile, in activities that connect us to others, and in activities that connect us to ourselves.
We can show up for ourselves by taking a few minutes out of our day to say, How are you doing? And to listen to ourselves for our response. To listen with sincere curiosity, as though we’re listening for the first time.
Sometimes, showing up for ourselves is fun and interesting. And it’s exactly what we want to do. Sometimes, it’s inconvenient and annoying. And sometimes, we’d rather do a thousand things before doing the thing.
But we acknowledge the deep, deep discomfort, that visceral head-to-toe discomfort, and we show up anyway.
How can you show up for yourself today? This week? This month? This year?