Showing up for ourselves is an ongoing practice of tuning in and meeting our own needs in the moment. There’s not a single way of showing up, and the way in which we show up for ourselves will vary day-to-day, situation-to-situation.
Because showing up is fluid, it requires intentional effort and checking in with ourselves. The more we get to know ourselves and listen to what our minds and bodies are telling us, the better we’ll be able to discern our needs and do our best to meet them.
So, where to start in cultivating a practice of showing up for ourselves?
Here are five ideas to get you started.
Disrupt Unhelpful Thought and Behavioral Patterns
We all engage in unhelpful thought and behavioral patterns. It’s inevitable as humans. Sometimes, without realizing it, we accept our thoughts as facts and behaviors as defining character traits.
For example, if we experience anxiety, we may identify as an anxious person and believe this is unchangeable in us.
However, we DO have the power to change the way we think and act. No matter how long we’ve been doing things one way, we are able to change and start doing it another way. The brain is malleable which means that it’s completely possible to rewire it to think and act differently.
How do we do that?
The first step in disrupting unhelpful thought and behavioral patterns is to start paying attention to our thoughts and behaviors. As you open yourself up to noticing, keep this principle in mind: curiosity NOT assumptions. When we lead with curiosity, we create a judgment-free zone to examine what’s working for us and what’s not.
Inventory Your Mental Energy
Everyone has limited energy, and oftentimes we devote energy to things that don’t serve us. The more we give energy to things that don’t serve us, the less energy we have for the things that do.
Ideally we’d like to be giving 100 percent of our energy to things that serve us. Of course, because we are human, that’s not always possible. But it IS possible for us to bring our awareness to where our energy is going so that we can be in tune with what’s serving us and what’s not. The more we are aware, the easier it will be to make a shift when needed.
Align with Your Values
Values describe how we want to behave.
For example, if you value creativity, then you’d want to have a regular creative practice.
Another example, if you value fitness, then you’d likely have a consistent exercise regimen.
For many of us, we haven’t ever sat down and defined our values. But it can be very illuminating and often sheds a spotlight on where we might not be living in line with our values.
In order to show up fully in our lives, we need to have awareness of what is important to us and then take action to live our lives in accordance with those principles.
Evaluate Your Self-Care Practice
Self-care looks very different person-to-person, and that’s okay. Your self-care practice is your own and should consist of actions that nourish you.
If you don’t currently have a self-care practice, I’d recommend starting your basic needs: Are you drinking enough water? Are you consuming nourishing food? Are you moving your body? Are you getting adequate sleep?
Then, consider your emotional well-being. Do you have relationships fill you up or bring you down? Do you set boundaries — with yourself and others? Do you engage in activities that nourish you mentally and physically? Do you make time for play and joy? Do you allow for emotional rest? Do you engage in any creative projects? Do you connect with a sense of spirituality? Do you know what your values are, and are you living in line with them? Are you honest, kind, and compassionate with yourself? Do you prioritize your own needs above others?
These are just a few questions to consider, most definitely not a complete list. Use the questions as a starting point, an invitation to explore what self-care might look like for you.
Focus on Your Breath
When the world feels off kilter and we don’t know where to turn, we can always return to our breath to ground us. Our breath brings us back to the here and now and reminds us that we are alive. And as long as we are alive, we can have hope that things will get better.
All of this is hard work, and showing up for ourselves is a lifelong and dynamic process. Change won’t happen overnight, so remember to be patient and kind to yourself along the way.