Updated: Aug 4, 2021
Have you ever seen a hairstylist who’s hair was constantly undone? Or what about a personal trainer who was woefully out of shape? What would your response be if one of those solicited you for service? You might say, "No thank you," because of the conflict between what is being offered and what is being presented. What would happen if others could see any inner conflict between what you present and who you are?
Recently I made a decision to forego a direction that would have made some personal work easier, but would not result in the personal growth I seek to coach others into it. In my heart I was convicted because I knew by taking the easier route, there would be a conflict between what I say and what I do. I took a deep breath and turned back towards (in this instance) the more difficult course of action; the course that would build my character as I work to coach others upwards. Long sigh.
Whether we are dealing with others or ourselves, the most important way to show up is to show up as you really are. A comedian once said that when you first start dating someone, you don’t meet who they really are, you meet 'their representative.’ Our representative may look the part but take character shortcuts. Showing up authentically, though, means you do the work to stay aligned spiritually, emotionally and naturally with how you want to live.
Are there places in your life where you show up as someone other than the real you? Here are some ways people can choose to show up, and some of the reasons why:
Showing up as "the bully". The bully gets his or her way by intimidating those around them. Intimidation doesn't always come in the loud voice or belittling comments; it can also take the form of manipulating words that cause others to doubt themselves ( for example,"Why would you want to try that again?) We all know that bullies are insecure, and if you show up as a bully, ask yourself what you're afraid of? Remember that as people find their own strength, they are less susceptible to bullying tactics, so why not confront your fears and stop sending "the bully" as your representative.
Showing up as "the victim”. The victim does not take responsibility for anything that happens in her life. If nothing is your fault or responsibility, the only way you can fail is if other people keep you from succeeding. When things are going the victim's way, everything is fine. If a "no" happens, or you are required to shoulder additional responsibilities, life isn't fair and it's someone else's fault. If this is how you've been showing up, ask yourself what reward are you getting by being the victim in life? Is it sympathy, or that others won't expect much from you? Either way, you deserve and are capable of better. The next time you are tempted to blame someone else for an issue or event, ask yourself, "What was my part in this?" "How can I change this for the better?"
Showing up as "the savior". The savior shows up to help everyone with whatever they need. No problem is too great or small to get the savior's attention, strategic advice and elbow grease. We often find her working after everyone else has left the office on a vitally important project, or taking on the burdens that should rightfully be carried by someone else. If you ask why she's taking on so much, she will often say, "Oh, it's not too much. If I don't who will?" The savior might do all of this work as a distraction from what is happening in their own lives. If you often show up to save the world and its inhabitants, ask yourself: "If I put some of the energy that I have committed to others into addressing what is happening in my own life , what would I find? What could I accomplish? How would my family be impacted?" I got some wise advice in the undergraduate Biblical Counseling class that I took: "Do not counsel people by telling them they can call you anytime, day or night. That is God's job."
Showing up as the “chameleon”: We all know about the lizard that can change colors to protect itself. There's another definition of a chameleon though: "a person who changes their opinions or behavior according to the situation." Do you show up as "however you need to" in order to get along with everyone? This is not to say you should not be agreeable, but showing up as a chameleon could mean you aren't authentic in the relationships that really matter. Ask yourself, "Are there people in my life that I can show ‘my true colors’ to? Am I afraid of being rejected for expressing a different opinion than the crowd?” Depending on how you answer these questions, you might need to confront your fears and/or find a new circle of people to spend time with.
There was a saying some years ago: "Check yourself before you wreck yourself." Don't wreck the fearfully and wonderfully made individual that you are by showing up as less than your best self. Feel free to reach out to me if you need help.
You are loved.
Michele Aikens is an author and coach who enjoys helping others craft and tell their stories. Connect with her here.