The Art of Showing Up for Yourself: What It Means & How to Do It

How to Show Up for Yourself

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re someone who is looking to make positive changes in your life and take better care of yourself. Maybe you’re feeling caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and have not been taking care of yourself lately. Or maybe you’ve prioritized work, family, and other obligations so much over your own needs, that you’re feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from yourself. 

Whatever your reasons, I’m here to tell you that showing up for yourself every day is one of the most fundamental ways to nurture and nourish yourself and ensure your long-lasting well-being.

For me, moving to Singapore was one of those watershed moments in life where I realized that a) I had seriously given up taking care of my own needs and health, and b) I was the only one who could do the work of showing up for myself.

At the end of the day, you could have the most supportive and loving friends and family (which I did – trust me!), and yes, terrible things can happen, but you are the real captain of your life’s ship. You have to be able to show up for your own life and steer the course!

But What Does It Mean to Show Up for Yourself?

At its core, showing up for yourself means prioritizing your own well-being and actively taking steps to support your own growth and happiness. It means treating yourself with the same kindness, care, and respect that you would offer to a loved one. It’s about being in tune with your own needs and desires so that you can set boundaries that protect your time and energy, and make choices that align with your values and goals.

Depending on your specific circumstances, showing up for yourself can mean different things to different people. While the basics might remain the same – taking care of yourself, prioritizing your needs, seeking your personal growth and happiness – someone who’s recovered from a long-term illness would view it very differently from someone who’s just stepped starting out fresh in a new job after college.  

In a very simplified manner of speaking, showing up for yourself means practicing self-love and self-care. But for all the eye rolls that these words induce, self-love and self-care aren’t simply about practicing positive thinking or taking bubble baths and doing face masks! It’s about taking the time to support your physical and mental health, pursue your passions, and build confidence in yourself and your goals.

The Importance of Showing Up for Yourself

Showing up for yourself is important for many reasons. For starters, when you prioritize your own well-being and actively take care of yourself, you are better equipped to handle life’s challenges. This means you are more resilient and better able to bounce back from setbacks, which can help you feel more confident and empowered in your life. In addition: 

  • You’ll cultivate a better sense of self-awareness and self-compassion
  • You’ll have a better sense of direction and purpose
  • You’ll be more in tune with your intuition
  • You’ll be able to set and achieve goals that are important to you
  • You’ll be able to pursue your passions and interests
  • You’ll develop a stronger sense of self-love and self-worth

Overall, showing up for yourself is not just a nice-to-have – it’s essential. By taking care of yourself, you are investing in your own well-being and happiness, which can have a positive ripple effect on all areas of your life.

The Consequences of Neglecting Yourself

If you’ve made it a regular habit of putting yourself last, neglecting yourself, and being a relentless people pleaser, you will likely find yourself in a very negative headspace. You may feel burnt out, exhausted, and overwhelmed. You may also experience feelings of resentment towards those around you. 

Additionally, neglecting yourself can lead to mental health issues in the long run. Here are some other consequences:

  • Decreased productivity: When you’re stuck in a cycle of exhaustion, overwhelm, and negative thoughts, you may struggle to focus and get things done.
  • Increased stress: Constantly putting yourself last, and holding up yourself to the impossible standards of others (and maybe even yourself) can only lead to increased stress and anxiety.
  • Poor physical health: When you neglect yourself, you may not prioritize your physical health, which can lead to a number of health issues over time.

Practical Ways to Show Up for Yourself

Now that we understand why it’s important to show up for ourselves, let’s discuss some practical ways to do so. Here are 13 ideas to help you show up for yourself every day:

1| Journaling and Self-Reflection

Why are you here right now, reading this post? Obviously, it’s because some part of you feels lost and neglected. But ask yourself gently, why are you feeling lost and neglected? In what ways are you feeling like your inner self and desires are being quashed down? What are you feeling forced to do that does not feel in alignment with your values? What part of your daily routine is making you unhappy? 

Before you proceed any further, my suggestion to you would be, as a first step, to take out a piece of paper and journal out your thoughts. Really examine what is it that you are truly struggling with. Digging a little deep with these kinds of questions is a great way to help you identify the real issue.

2| Do the Inner Work and Confront Your Inner Mess

It is likely that all that journaling that I suggested in the previous point will bring out some hard truths. It may make you feel vulnerable and overwhelmed. Confronting and dealing with your inner issues and self-limiting beliefs might seem like too much work, but here’s the thing – most good things in life do not really come by taking the easy route all the time.

Making peace with yourself and resolving your issues is what will set you on the path of becoming the best version of yourself, and ultimately, to authentic happiness and purpose. 

Journal your way through your feelings, talk to your most trusted people, and seek professional help, and you will find a way to become the master of your own life. 

Also, remember that it is a process. Not every situation will get resolved immediately – it may take weeks, or months even, for any real breakthrough to happen. But getting started on doing the inner work is one of the most important things you can do for your personal growth.

3| Get Clear About Your Goals

Once you’ve had a chance to do a bit of self-reflection and started to identify/work on your inner issues, you should be able to map out some clear goals for your life. Think 1-year, 5-year, 10-year goals. Where is the gap today between what you want to do, where you want to go, and what you are actually doing? 

Working actively towards your goals will give you a sense of purpose and help you feel energized about living – so long as the goals are driven by your true desires, and not a reflection of the voice of people in your life and society at large.

When you are working towards goals that you truly aligned with your inner desires, it is easy to show up for yourself with consistency.

4| Pursue Your Passions

You know what they say about “all work and no play”, right? Life should not become an endless to-do list, a numbing pursuit of your “dream life” (where dream life only means power, position, and wealth).

Yes, hard work is important. Working towards your goals is important. But you also need to make room for enjoying the simple things in life, for activities and hobbies that bring you joy and fulfillment. Pursuing your passions will rejuvenate you and make you an all-around interesting person!

5| Connect with Others

In a similar vein as pursuing your passions – what good is all that hard work, all those accomplishments if you don’t have your people to celebrate it with you?

Healthy relationships and true friends – they are what give life deeper meaning. Make time for your best friends, spend time with family members, mentor someone at work, and try to donate your time to those less fortunate than you – your life will be significantly richer for it!

6| Push Yourself

People aspiring to be CEOs or multi-millionaires are not the only ones who need to push themselves out of their comfort zones to achieve great things. When you push yourself to try new things, pursue your passions, and challenge yourself, you will grow and develop in ways that bring you fulfillment and joy.

Stop letting your limiting beliefs tell you that you can’t do certain things. You have to learn to believe in yourself and push yourself from time to time to achieve your fullest potential.

7| Set Boundaries

I know, I know – perpetual people-pleasers have a really hard time with this! But it is one of the most important things that you need to learn to do. Setting healthy boundaries is crucial for protecting your time and energy. 

Remove yourself from the toxic situations and toxic people in your life; establish a clear separation between work and personal life. Control the amount of time you spend on social media – gauge whether it is truly adding to your happiness and/or relaxation, or is it fostering unhealthy thoughts instead.

Learn to say “no” to things that don’t serve your well-being, and make time for the things that do. Remember that saying no is not selfish; it’s a way to prioritize your needs.

8| Practice Gratitude

If you’re reading this (which means you have access to electricity, phone/laptop, and internet, among other things), I will go out on a limb and say that even on your hardest days, if you make an effort, you will find something to be grateful for. 

Cultivating gratitude can improve your mood and overall well-being. Take time each day to reflect on things you’re grateful for. You can also keep a gratitude journal to track your progress. As time goes by and it becomes an entrenched habit, it will train you to focus on the positive aspects of your life and consequently make you feel more upbeat and optimistic.

9| Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can help you manage stress and improve your overall well-being. Take time each day to practice mindfulness, whether it’s through meditation, deep breathing, or simply being present in the moment. This can help you feel more aware of your thoughts and emotions, and more grounded and centered.

Regular mindfulness and meditation can really help to take care of our inner minds. A few of my favorite mindfulness and grounding techniques include:

  • Chanting ‘Om’ repeatedly (especially in the mornings)
  • Reciting a devotional hymn
  • Journaling
  • 2X breathing

10| Take Care of Yourself

Regular self-care is essential for maintaining a healthy mind and body. Create healthy daily routines that work for you. This may include activities such as exercise, meditation, reading, or taking a relaxing bath. Schedule time for rest, take breaks throughout the day to recharge and make quality sleep a priority. 

Eating well is also an important part of taking care of yourself. Yes, takeaway food tastes amazing, but do it often enough and your body will start to pay the price for it. Eating more home-cooked meals, reducing your consumption of junk food, and ditching sugary drinks – these can all have a huge impact on your overall health and energy levels.

Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup – so when you are not taking care of yourself, over time, it will become that much harder to take care of the ones that matter.

11| Practice Self-Compassion

The way you talk to yourself can impact your self-esteem and confidence. You seriously need to break up with your inner critic and instead develop an encouraging and compassionate inner voice! Use that internal dialogue to lift yourself up instead of allowing it to batter you down even further.

Here’s the thing – you are a human being, not a robot! You will make mistakes, mess things up, get hurt by other people’s actions and opinions, and experience negative emotions from time to time. There will be days when it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Allowing yourself room for self-compassion is one of the best things you can do yourself in such moments.  

Old habits are also notoriously hard to get rid of – you might find yourself reverting to them from time to time. Again, take the time to quiet that negative self-talk and allow yourself some grace.

Make positive self-talk a part of your daily routine. Make your inner voice your best friend. You can also learn to use affirmations and personal mantras to reinforce positive beliefs about yourself. 

12| Advocate for Yourself

Advocating for yourself means speaking up for your needs and rights. This may involve seeking support from others, asking for help when you need it, or advocating for yourself in professional or personal settings. It’s okay to tell a family member off if they are crossing your boundaries. It’s okay to ask for more responsibilities and better pay at work.

I get it – it can be uncomfortable speaking up for yourself when you haven’t done much of that in the past! But you need to remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. And while I would always hope that you have people in your corner who can support you, at the end of the day, you have to learn to be your own advocate. 

If you struggle to communicate well, take time to build your communication skills, both in personal and professional relationships. Practice with a close friend, if you need to. But getting comfortable with speaking up for yourself is the only way that you can ensure that you are truly heard.

13| Celebrate Your Wins

Take time to celebrate your accomplishments and acknowledge your progress, no matter how small. Be your own biggest cheerleader!

Personal development is a journey after all. You will have both good days and bad days. Learn to take the wins for what they are, and brush off a bad day with some self-compassion. You can start afresh in the next moment, the next day.

Overcoming Obstacles to Showing Up for Yourself

How to Show Up for Yourself

While learning to show up for yourself is important, it can sometimes be challenging – especially when you’re recovering from people-pleasing behaviors or when life gets tough. But staying on the path and taking care of your mental health and emotional well-being on a regular basis is important work and one of the best things you can do for yourself. 

Here are some common obstacles you may encounter and how to overcome them:

Putting Too Much Value on Other People’s Opinions

Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to always be likable. More often than not, it means toeing the line of “how things are typically done” and society seems to have drawn up a list of “acceptable behaviors” for people. I am not saying you need to rebel against society’s standards just for the sake of being a rebel, but when you find yourself constantly pushing down and hiding your authentic self, maybe it is seriously time for yourself to reconsider how much of a people-pleaser you want to be. 

If society and its random standards are making you miserable, at some point you will have to step out of your comfort zone and take charge of your life. It may not be easy, but you will have to learn to take a stand for the sake of your own emotional health and mental well-being. There is always a first time for everything!

Negative Self-Talk

Another big obstacle to showing up for yourself is negative self-talk. When you’re constantly criticizing yourself, it’s hard to feel motivated to take care of your needs. To overcome this obstacle, start by identifying your negative self-talk. Notice when you’re being self-critical and try to reframe those thoughts in a more positive way. For example, instead of saying “I’m so lazy,” try saying “I’m taking a break to recharge.”

Dealing with Burnout and Overwhelm

When you’re feeling burnt out, exhausted, and depleted, it’s hard to find the energy to take care of yourself. And usually, it takes time for these kinds of feelings to build up to unmanageable levels. It is best to deal with them before they lead to serious health issues. 

Start by prioritizing rest and relaxation. Take breaks throughout the day and make time for activities that bring you joy. It’s also essential to set firm boundaries and stop spending time on commitments that drain your energy.

Lack of Time

You may genuinely find yourself in a situation where your personal time to focus on your needs is limited. Say, if you’re a new mom. Or you’re the primary caregiver for someone with chronic illness. Or you’re in the middle of a time-consuming and important project at work. Doing a bit of a mental reset in these kinds of situations is extremely important.

Some of these situations could be temporary, and some could mean a much longer time commitment (being a parent, taking care of someone with special needs, etc.). No matter whether the situation is simply a phase or something that will stay with you for a long time, remember that your needs are important too even as you take care of others’ needs. I repeat again – you can’t pour from an empty cup. 

Find a little bit of wiggle room to do the things that matter to you – your hobbies, your passions. You may not be able to read an entire book in one go, but can you find time to read 10 pages regularly? You may not find a long enough stretch of time to go to a spa, but can you call a home massage service? Also, is there anyone you can share your responsibilities with, or some things that you can delegate?

Reframe your thoughts about your responsibilities (for eg. “it is a privilege taking care of old parents, even if it can be physically and mentally draining”) and also your attitude towards self-care.

Navigating Through a Crisis

Finally, a crisis can be a significant obstacle to showing up for yourself. When you’re dealing with a crisis, it’s hard to focus on anything else. At times like these, you should not hesitate to seek support. Reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional for help. It’s also important to take care of yourself during times of crisis, even if that means asking for help with daily tasks or taking some time off work.

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I hope that you’ve found these tips and insights helpful and informative, and that you feel inspired to start prioritizing yourself and your well-being.

Showing up for yourself is not always easy, but it’s essential for your overall happiness and well-being. By being self-aware, setting boundaries, practicing mindfulness, prioritizing rest, and cultivating self-compassion, you can create a life that feels authentic, fulfilling, and joyful. 

Remember to be patient with yourself, and to give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. With time and practice, you can develop a deeper sense of self-awareness, self-care, and self-love. 

Are there any other ideas you would add on how to show up for yourself?

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One Comment

  1. I go through natural cycles where I do this, then taper off and neglect it a bit (stress and challenging life stuff takes over). I’m glad that I am now ready to show up for myself again, and reading this was a great reminder of all the things I can implement to facilitate that. Great post!