“Show up.” We have all heard that term before. What does it mean to “show up”? There are several answers to this question.

When you buy a ticket to a cultural or sporting event, have an educational or career deadline or presentation, medical appointment or procedure, you know the date and time that you must be there. If you are late, arrive on the wrong date or location, or miss it altogether, the experience of the event has passed and is impossible to recreate. There typically is a negative consequence and a lesson learned.

When we are invested in an experience, we do all we can to ensure that we participate in it. During an experience in which we hold a high level of stock or are strongly motivated by, we are aware of the perceptions and feelings generated during and after the event has passed. We are all-in, present, and accounted for, and feel a sense of gratification because we valued it and showed up.

How does one show up for themselves in their lives? As children we are taught to be attentive and present when listening to authority figures and others to whom we relate. Most people are encouraged to conform to social roles and family expectations and are reprimanded with negative feedback if their presence strays.

This social norm trains us to be outer-focused, missing the importance of turning inward to explore the riches of what lies within. When someone shows up fully for him- or herself, they are intentionally on board as the “master of their own ship.” A self-loving person attends to his or her physical, relational, social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs. When an individual shows up for him- or herself, they build self-respect, self-trust, and authenticity.

Do you welcome others into your life and to what degree? Do you seek them out or do they appear uninvited? How do you welcome new contacts into the fold, and place them in the appropriate pages of your life’s story? Are you more comfortable dealing with those you are already familiar with?

There are ways in which we process people who show up for us, and place them in appropriate compartments. Despite the role others play, each person serves a valuable purpose. We all continually learn and grow from the experience of interacting, being known, and connecting with each other. We are here to learn from one another as we all serve as students and teachers in the process.

Sometimes people show up who are reminders of unresolved shadow aspects of ourselves. These people show us where we need to do the work, let go, grow, or heal. Many teachers show up in our lives to help us evolve to our next level of functioning or awareness. We show up for others to assist in their growth and positive transformation. Even if there is a challenge, there is always a positive learning that can be gleaned from the experience.

Once people and things show up for us and we begin to show up for ourselves, we realize the interconnectedness of it all. There is always a choice to invite in or manifest more appropriate or gratifying people and situations in one’s life. Here are some rules of thumb to help you show up with finesse:

  • Check in with your comfort level and compatibility with new people and situations that show up for you. Follow your instincts, empower yourself, and take appropriate action.
  • Trust what others show you more than what they tell you about who they are.
  • Notice where you are fully present and self-supportive in your life and where you are not.
  • Explore whether you recreate patterns that show up and either serve or sabotage your happiness and progress.
  • Positively reinforce yourself in healthy ways as you enjoy the natural rewards of showing up for yourself.
  • Stretch yourself by safely risking new ways to show up for yourself and your inner child.
  • Set limits from the beginning, yet if necessary, set limits as soon as you need to.
  • Take responsibility for times when you abandon, forget, or refuse to show up for yourself.

In this day and age of social media, online dating, population explosion, and the fierce competition to get ahead in many arenas, we must be clear about where we begin and where others end. It is your life and you are the principal artist who creates your own life’s masterpiece. Be willing to show up and be conscious so that you can go with the natural flow of giving and receiving while staying true to yourself.