When we focus on the fear of judgement, loss, or criticism, it becomes impossible to show up. And when we pay attention to our values around courage, connection, authenticity, it becomes impossible not to.

I went to a new yoga class recently and our instructor began the class by inviting us to choose an intention card. I loved this! I chose “Showing Up”. Not surprising because its something I’ve been consciously working on. I’m doing the Living Brave Semester with Brene Brown that’s all about showing up fully, leaning into discomfort, being vulnerable. I had been diligently going through the course material, watching the videos, doing the worksheets and felt ‘on top of it’. I was hearing other classmates talk about all of these major shifts they were experiencing, however, and I felt a tinge of missing out.  The habits I’d developed in more traditional classes to earn good grades  weren’t serving me here because this class was all about showing up authentically, courageously, and daringly (not just in the class…but in life!)

Of course, this idea of really showing up in life scared me to death and at the same time, I was 100% committed–after all, that’s why I signed up to work with Brene.  Anyway, the first step was to have a very courageous conversation I needed to have in which I shared my feelings even though I knew it would be hard for the other person to hear—and it was hard.  This was followed by other opportunities for courageous conversations…you know how the universe works like that. I began to become aware of this feeling of incongruence when what I was saying didn’t line up with how I felt on the inside. This was happening more than I’d like to admit. It felt pretty uncomfortable…but the alternative also still felt pretty uncomfortable. This is when things started to feel messy, like a little out of control. I think I had thought that when I started to ‘show up’ fully, it would feel amazing, that I would feel freed up, feel fully engaged. And I did feel all of these, but I also felt a little out of control, anxious, unsure (I wasn’t exactly prepared for these).  Again, you can relate, right?

So back in came the perfectionism, the hustling to be good enough. I ramped up my self-care, scheduled acupuncture and reiki, began meditating again daily, to ‘fix’ things, to feel back to myself, more in control.  These didn’t necessarily help me fix things, but they did help me let go some of the need to control and to feel more okay with all of it–the good, the bad, and the messy sides of showing up.  You may be wondering, why is she sharing all of this?  I’m sharing with you so that you know that you are not alone.  You are not alone in your longing for deep connection and a sense of full engagement in life and then wanting to run the other way when you take those first courageous steps.  It’s not always easy…but here’s the upside.

When you start showing up fully, you will have relationships that are aligned, congruent, and whole-hearted.  You will feel fully seen and accepted by those around you because the rest will have gone on to find people that they connect with.  Take my yoga instructor, for example, inviting students to choose cards—she was really showing up here, beginning the class in the way she felt called to begin it. What if some students didn’t like this? Or thought it was weird? Probably some did think this and they won’t come back to her class…but other students will absolutely LOVE it and she will continue to attract more of these people and she will have a class full of people who LOVE her because she’s really showing up. So of course, this ‘showing up’ requires some loss, a letting go of control over what people think and there will be people who will judge you, who don’t like you, who will choose to go to another class or work with another therapist or be friends with someone else.  But isn’t that okay?  Wouldn’t you rather be surrounded by people who love you for who you are versus for how well you succeed at being liked?

Here’s my challenge for you this week: Notice when you’re holding back or when what’s happening on the inside doesn’t line up with what’s happening on the outside. Speak up—share your truth. This may be after the fact, coming back to a conversation you’ve had or it may be in the moment. Here are some examples of when what’s happening on the inside doesn’t line up with the outside: Saying yes when you feel no. Answering when you need more time to think about it. Sharing your opinion (your genuine <ahem> opinion…not the most acceptable one). Doing what you think you should do rather than what you feel like doing.   I encourage you to focus on how you feel when you show up fully. Let go of any judgment, criticism, negative feedback. This doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it, it may be helpful, but don’t let it mean something about who you are. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself—this is a courageous path that you’re on, my friend, and it isn’t always easy but it is definitely worth it.

Affirmation: Who you are (your needs, your wants, your feelings your opinions) matters.