The most important gift you have to give your relationships is the ability to show up for yourself.
When you start showing up for yourself, you learn to see yourself as God sees you. This means that you start to engage yourself from the core, or center, of your heart (1 Sam. 16:7). You learn how to honor your needs, desires, gifts, and limitations. You start living as if who you are matters.
As a result of showing up for yourself, you will engage other people more authentically. Instead of working to please other people, you will start to see them at their core, too. You will begin to understand that sometimes what people think they want from you is not what they actually need. It’s no longer your primary job to react to the needs around you. Instead, you begin to enter in with intention.
Finally, as you learn how to show up for yourself, you will stop wishing for others to do the work that only you can do. No matter how wonderful your spouse, children, or friends are—at some point—you will come face to face with the fact that you are ultimately the one best suited to show up for you. The truth is that ultimately, you are best suited to know how to:
- Care for your body.
- Tend to your emotions.
- Acknowledge your growth areas.
- Identify and ask for the help that you need.
- Understand and align with your core values.
The more you know how to do that work well, the more capacity you have to create healthy relationships with other people. As you learn to fill yourself up with love, compassion, and beauty, guess what flows out to others? All of that goodness. Instead of giving from empty—you’ll start giving from fullness and strength. You will also know how to ask for what you need.
It’s hard to do the work of showing up for yourself, especially if the concept is foreign to you. In fact, many of us have been conditioned only to show up for other people. Unlearning that conditioning takes practice.
You may well understand how to bend over backwards to meet their needs, empathize with their pain, and constantly buoy them up. Sometimes, this is altruistic and helpful.
Often, it gets extreme.
How do you know it’s gotten extreme? Well, typically, you start noticing resentment. You start wondering:
- When will someone see my struggles?
- Why do they get to rest, while I’m over here working myself to death?
- How come no one ever asks about me?
When you notice yourself begrudging the very people you are trying to please, pay attention.
Something is out of balance.
It’s time to start showing up for yourself.
The Fruit of Faithfulness
There is so much written about self-care right now, that the message can get diluted. I want to situate this conversation in a spiritual context. I believe that showing up for yourself goes hand-in-hand with the fruit of the Spirit called faithfulness (Gal. 5:22-23).
Typically we think of faithfulness in terms of our relationship to God. You show faithfulness to God when you:
- Spend time with God regularly.
- Align your priorities with what God values.
- Seek to understand who God is.
- Honor God by nurturing the gifts and talents he gave you.
- Prioritize God’s body, which is the church.
We also think of faithfulness in terms of being faithful to an intimate relationship, especially a spouse. A married couple shows faithfulness to each other when they:
- Spend time with each other regularly.
- Align their priorities with each other’s values.
- Seek to understand each other.
- Honor each other’s individual gifts and talents.
- Prioritize each other’s bodies.
So, in light of all this, what might it mean to show faithfulness to yourself? Lean in, because while the concept may feel foreign at first, it’s actually very familiar:
- Spend time with yourself regularly.
- Align your priorities with what you value.
- Seek to understand yourself.
- Honor yourself by nurturing the gifts and talents God gave you.
- Prioritize caring for your body.
Do you see how that works? All three relationships matter. And, all three relationships weave together. As you show faithfulness to God, you learn how to become more faithful to yourself and others. As you show faithfulness toward yourself, you show up more authentically with God and with the people you love.
An Exercise in Showing Up For Yourself
The following questions are designed to help you think about how to stop pleasing others and start showing up for yourself.
1. Using a scale from 1-5, rate how well you show up for yourself in each of the following categories. (1= not at all; 5 = very well).
- Exercise and nutrition: “I show up to care for my body.”
- Emotional and spiritual health: “I show up to care for my inner life.”
- Relationships: “I honor myself in my relationships.”
- Work/Vocation: “I value the contributions I make.”
2. Choose one category that you want to focus on first.
You might choose the category that is the most challenging for you, or you might choose one that is in the middle. Regardless, be sure to choose a category where you can establish a clear next step.
3. Create a commitment statement.
Now, create one commitment statement based on that category. This is a commitment you will make to yourself over the next 30 days. It’s important that you make a commitment that you can keep, so start small.
Here are some examples from each category:
- I commit to showing up for my body by walking 30 minutes each day.
- I commit to showing up for my body by drinking X amount of water each day.
- I commit to showing up for my emotional health by journaling every morning for 20 minutes.
- I commit to showing up for my spiritual health by listening to praise music while I cook dinner.
- I commit to showing up for myself with a needy friend by limiting our interactions to 1 text a week.
- I commit to showing up for myself in my marriage by asking my spouse if he’d have coffee with me once a week.
- I commit to showing up for myself at work by making a list of 3 things I’m proud of each day.
Remember, pick only one commitment for one category. You can use one of these statements or create your own.
4. Stick to it.
Showing up for yourself is a process of staying faithful to simple practices. So, stick with this commitment you’ve made over the next month. Don’t beat yourself up if you blow it or skip a few days. Instead, stay curious. Notice what happened and see if you can get back on track.
Once you have successfully committed to one small step, choose another one and begin again with that one. This is how you build new habits that you can sustain over time.
The truth is that no other person can make you show up for yourself. No one can force you to stop pleasing them. This is a commitment that rests entirely on you. Start with small steps. Ask for God’s Spirit to help.
The good news is that as you show up for yourself, you will start to sense what it means that God cares for you. You’ll develop more confidence and courage at the center of your being. You’ll start living more aligned with how God made you. You’ll start to feel more present in your relationships, as if you have a voice.
The more you show up for yourself, the more grounded your love becomes. As you learn to sense your deepest, truest needs, you start to see others differently. You shift from pleasing them at all costs to authentic, courageous love.
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ —Matthew 25:21
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Join the conversation. Leave a comment below:
What is one area where you need to start showing up for yourself?