Last week I wrote to my newsletter subscribers about how I was determined to start showing up for myself during 2018 and why. It must have struck a chord, as a number of people reached out to say they felt the same way. So I wanted to write about it a little more in today’s blog post. For the past 44 years I have failed to show up for myself time and again. I have an innate tendency to put everyone and everything ahead of myself. What I have come to realise is that on a deeper level it is a form of self-sabotage. And it is also due to fear.
I have shared before, with those that read my weekly letters, how in the past I have repeatedly self-sabotaged things that could have changed the direction of my life. Whether it’s retiring from gymnastics six weeks out from trailing for a New Zealand team, or burning my online business to the ground just as it starts gaining momentum. I’ve come to realise this is a pattern in my life that shows up time and again. But for the last year I have managed to keep self-sabotage at bay.
I’ve stayed in the same job. I’ve kept writing. I’ve sent out a newsletter on a weekly basis. I’ve simplified my life. And I’ve been slowly learning how to show up in my relationship, because I don’t want to lose the one person who has stood by me through both the good and the bad.
It took me a while to realise I was best friends with self-sabotage. But once I understood the affect it had on my life it was easy to quietly let the friendship go. This year it's time to do the same thing with fear.
One of my favourite quotes is by Marianne Williamson. Many of you will know the quote I’m referring to. If not, I will share it with you here:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous’? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.
While I take a lot from this quote, the main thing is the question ‘why am I so afraid to show up’?
Why do I fear living an awesome life? One I know I can create for myself and one I know I deserve. And I know I’m not the only one asking this question. Because you have told me you ask yourself this as well. If we are going to start showing up for ourselves in 2018, these are the questions we need to answer:
Is it fear of who we may hurt, or who we may have to leave behind?
Do we think we don’t deserve it?
Do we think a great life isn't sustainable? That if life becomes awesome, surely something horrible will happen to knock our egos back into line.
Do we fear people will judge us?
Or do we fear we will ultimately fail, at which point we'll hear the little voice inside our heads say ‘I told you so’?
For me it’s a little bit of all those things. How about you?
I will be honest. When I start thinking about showing up in my life the way I want to, the first thing I do is procrastinate. The house gets cleaned. The dogs get multiple walks a day. My pantry gets re-organised. Anything to stop me doing the things I know will make a difference.
Over the last few weeks I’ve found a way to counter this. I’ve chipped away, done one small thing at a time and not thought too far ahead.
I’ve written my newsletter. I’ve gone to the gym. I’ve made time to read my book. I’ve written a blog post. I’ve gone to the gym. I’ve made time to read my book. I’ve written a magazine article. I’ve gone to the gym. I’ve read my book. Because when we chip away and take small steps forward, big changes happen with time.
This is the only way I have found I can show up. One small step at a time. Sometimes I take two steps back in between. But then I get up and take one step forward again.
The other thing that has helped is to realise I don’t have to have it all figured out right now.
For the past few years I have asked myself the question, ‘what do I want to be when I grow up’? Or rather, ‘what space can I occupy in this world’? I still don’t know the answer. It’s one of those questions that drives me nuts if I let it. Instead I keep doing what I always do. Chip away and take one step at a time. I figure the answer will sort itself out when the Universe (or I'm) ready. And if it doesn’t? I will just keep being a Physiotherapist who blogs in her spare time. But I will also keep showing up and doing just that.
This year I have chosen three things I want to do consistently, that I know will help me become a better version of myself. I want to write more. I want to read more. And I want to exercise more. While they all sound simple enough, I have found myself consistently pushing all three to the back of my to-do list over the years. If I can do one, or even two of those things each day, I will be a step ahead of the old me. I will feel better in 2108 than I did in 2017. And that’s the only way I want to feel.