“You are not showing up.
You’re not sticking to your word.
Not showing up for others, not showing up for yourself.
You know it and you feel it – and it’s tearing you up.”
… They’re the thoughts that I have been having about myself lately.
This post explores…
- What “not showing up” means – and increasing awareness of it.
- FIVE “remarkably stupid” things I’ve been doing to “absolutely screw up my life.”
- Choosing the MOST remarkably stupid thing – and a commitment to make ammends.
- Using that commitment to show up more in life.
- The value of committing and the consequence of NOT.
Not Showing Up – Becoming Aware
I have been feeling a lot of doubts about myself and my ability lately. Avoiding the work that’s important to my soul, expands my life, and serves others. This feeling has come up after watching the series finale of ‘Suits’ and had gone on a late-night walk, thinking on the theme of ‘showing up,’ or rather the lack of it in my life [to the degree that I know I am capable of].
“I’m not showing up in my life in the way that I want.”
It became apparent after a conversation with a friend that was visiting from out of town. We talked about goal setting and – specifically – writing down on the day’s agenda only what you’re actually going to do – and the negative impact of not doing what YOU said you’re going to do.
Oftentimes I write down 5 things and still avoid at least 4 of them. I wasn’t taking myself or my own words and priorities very seriously.
This feeling of not showing up in my life has been bearing down on me for a while now. Yet, as I am in the process of writing and editing, it feels as though the sensation is subsiding: because I am NOW actually showing up.
At this very moment I’m in positive momentum, not stagnation. Most artists are intimately familiar with Resistance and that sitting down is harder than the doing of the work itself.
Knowing full well that ‘not showing up’ has been a recurring pattern, it’s helpful to go through this writing process to create awareness and tools for interrupting it.
When I’m not showing up, it feels heavy, constricting and creates really intense feelings of …
- Despair / Hopelessness
- Lack of confidence
- Being out of control
It’s this internal feeling where I feel … upset and disappointed with how I am letting myself down in my own life.
Disappointed with how I’m …
- Repeating the same day over and over and over.
- Taking my days for granted and not living each day and moment to the fullest.
- Seeing my negative patterns but choosing (with action or inaction) the expedient, easy way out.
- Not sitting down to start the work on a regular basis.
- Knowing the things that can help me – but not prioritizing them.
- Not doing what I know I want or need to do for myself – and instead letting my mind derail and focus on irrelevant, disempowering things.
- Not getting “in the zone” by simply sitting down to get started or engaging in activities that expand and elevate me.
- Saying I’ll do something and then not doing it.
- Having ideas or ambitions but not doing anything with it today, instead deflecting with avoidant behaviors that don’t bring those dreams to actualization.
If I want to “show up” more in my life, I need to look at the problem. Not tab over to Facebook or Youtube. I need to communicate the problem with myself, not read some other “growth related” article or video content.
To show up, I need to be in the trenches, doing the work, and digging in the dirt. It’s been helpful to draw awareness on the behaviors that have been holding me back from truly showing up in my life.
My 5 “Remarkably Stupid Things”
Jordan B. Peterson has this quote that sounds negative and harsh at first but it can be massively revealing and empowering:
“Sit on your bed one day and ask yourself … ‘What remarkably stupid things am I doing on a regular basis to absolutely screw up my life?’ And if you actually ask that question – but you have to want the answer. That’s actually what asking the question means. It doesn’t mean just mouthing the words. It means you have to decide that you wanna’ know. – You’ll figure that out so fast it’ll make your hair curl.”Jordan Peterson – YouTube
Just FIVE of the most prominent “remarkably stupid things” that I’m doing on a regular basis to ‘absolutely screw up my life’ …
( 1. ) Overcommitting and not clearing the decks.
Overcommitting is a common trend in my life. Oftentimes it happens subconsciously because I’m being far too optimistic about my available time and mental capacity to do that amount of work in the available time. It comes from wanting to do lots of great things but creates problems when I’m not actually putting in the work to do so.
Instead of removing those from my “to do lists,” whether they’re on a physical list, a digital list, or in my head, they keep “existing.” The list of ambitions and things to do continues to grow swiftly without any regularity of trimming that list down (via ACTION or REMOVAL).
Overcommitting happens in any of the following ways:
- Using “Open in a new tab” on my phone’s Chrome browser. “Saving it to read later.” Under normal circumstances: great! I can check it out when I want to fill 5 minutes while waiting for my tea. … But I never go back and re-read it during that time. Because in those moments, I’m usually…
- Browsing and scrolling for something new instead of looking at my mountain of tabs and notes I’ve already saved as “important.”
- Not having a set time (nor sticking to said time, when I do) to go through that list.
- Using the phrase, “I might be interested.” When I’m not.
- Saying “I could try to …” when I already have enough tasks on my plate.
- Not using my own systems to “clear the decks” – going through emails, responding to messages, addressing “important task” folders, and so forth.
- Adding things to my to-do list and not doing anything on it. (More on that in a second.)
- Bookmarking or keeping tabs open for projects I want to do – but not setting a time to work on it.
Clearing the decks can be done in #1of3ways:
ACT ON IT RIGHT NOW.
Many things on my lists require an “insignificantly” difficult decision. Deciding yes or no to something. Picking a color. Picking a time. Deciding where to put an item.
Instead of postponing it for later, or reshuffling it back into the list for later … just take the 27 seconds (WITHOUT DISTRACTING YOURSELF) to make a decision.
Message the person back, send a quick email, text someone, publish the post. Whatever it is. Take action on it now, to completion or at least move the needle forward.
POSTPONE OR SCHEDULE IT.
Occasionally something is important but you can’t take action on it right now for whatever reason. In those cases, yes, pick it up, acknowledge that it’s important, and then intentionally put it back into the “list” or onto your calendar where it will be addressed at a very specific time. This acknowledges to you that it’s still important, because you are literally looking at it, touching it, filtering it — and saying, “yes, this is still important to me.”
If it KEEPS getting postponed multiple times, then it’s time to act on it right now, oooor…
GET IT THE FUCK OUT OF THERE.
Often, the item on my list is NOT actually important or relevant anymore. Maybe it would have had a notable impact if I just did the damn thing when it came into my consciousness. Moments and opportunities pass, so if that moment has passed – so too does this list item.
If I won’t action it and I know that it’s genuinely not worth the time to schedule (not wanting to do it, not as exciting anymore, not massively helpful to myself or others) – then I should avoid cycling it back into the list. Don’t let it continue to hold “weight” by letting it live there with no genuine intention to do something with it. It needs to get OUT of the list.
Delete, trash, burn — whatever, it needs to go.
The goal is to not let anything on a list GATHER DUST as a result of never touching it. Each of these #1of3ways is a way of shaking off the dust – and eventually purging it from “THE LIST.”
Act, postpone, or delete.
( 2. ) Not following through on my word.
Applying to both myself and others, one of the worst things I have been doing in my life is not following through on my word. It’s THE point that brought this entire article into existence when I had a conversation with a friend on the very matter.
Not following through on my word looks like…
- Telling a client I’ll do something – and then not getting to it in the time I said I would. (Different from projects and priorities shifting during development time.)
- Putting five things on my to-do list for the day. And doing one. Or zero.
- Adding a project or piece of content to read to a list but not actually working through my list in the above “action, postpone, delete” process.
- Not sticking to my own calendar even REMOTELY. Adding something into my calendar and then proceeding to “move it later into the day” about ten different times.
- Making intentions for myself/my day that I know will improve my day, myself, and my life in any small or incremental way – and then spend the rest of the day opening tabs for Facebook, Youtube, or Netflix, or going off to play video games with a friend.
- Saying that “writing” is important and feels expansive – and not prioritizing it over distracting behaviors.
- Not sticking to my routines (sleep, work, eating) and schedule (work, commitments, solo time) when I know that they will have a positive impact on my life.
- Creating systems (like “Draginboxing”) and not utilizing them.
- Saying that “solo time” is one of THE most important things for me – and continuing to spend time online, distracting myself with new content, and so forth.
This is notoriously woven into multiple aspects of my life and while it’s improving, it’s even worse when the “spoken word” or intention is for myself. It’s much easier to blow something off when “it only affects me,” or when I know that nobody else will know about it.
That first part is the killer: “It only affects me.”
When I say I want to do something and then don’t, I am teaching myself that my own actions for myself are not as important. Furthermore, it teaches that “I am not worthy of being prioritized for improvement or change.”
Put another way: “I am not worthy of being a recipient of or experiencing a fulfilled life.”
D-D-D-D A N G E R Z O N E.
The goal then is to begin to follow up with my own words, commitments, and intentions. Not just to my clients, friends and family, but just as importantly – to myself.
The friend that I conversed with said that following through on your own word FOR YOURSELF is akin to [paraphrased] being the actualizer in your own life and taking full responsibility for what you want to experience and who you want to become.
( 3. ) Acting and speaking out of integrity.
It comes from years of conditioning in different environments. I often nod my head to things I don’t necessarily agree with or understand, laugh at things I don’t really get or don’t think is funny, or literally say and acknowledge things I don’t actually believe.
Jordan B. Peterson talks about “speaking the truth” (one of his 12 Rules for Life), phrased specifically as, “Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie.” Most of the time we may not necessarily know what a full truth is (even for ourselves), but we can more recognizably pick out the actions and words that are explicitly NOT true.
When these moments arise we can physiologically feel it within ourselves that we are “out of alignment,” or that it gives us a feeling of being “weak” and “disintegrated from our soul.” This feeling of being annoyed at or disgusted with yourself because you KNOW you are saying or doing something that is not right within your own heart.
It’s something I do often, particularly when I’m face-to-face with people. That’s a tough, painful truth to admit. To me it feels subconscious, automatic – and sometimes I don’t catch it until after I’ve said or done something. Most of the time it’s done out of a fear of rocking the boat, or being outcasted, or some other fear around “being exiled” or “being unable to stand up for myself.”
Habitually I’ve put the weight of others’ opinions above my own or have taken on an automatic thought that my beliefs, preferences, or ideas are not allowed in some manner.
It takes a lot of intention and “courage” to say or do things that are more in alignment with my TRUTH:
- Asking someone to repeat or re-explain things when I don’t understand.
- Taking a MOMENT to pause and think before I respond.
- Not say “I’m interested” when I’m not.
- Choosing to write, right now, instead of asking friends to play games for the rest of the night.
- When someone asks if I want to hang out, to say a phrase like, “I’m not sure right now, I’ll have to get back to you” or “Probably not this time” INSTEAD OF “I don’t know what’s on my schedule” and implying I might be available if my schedule is open.
- Opening up and being vulnerable about “how things are going” or “what I’ve been up to” instead of some bullshit response like, “fine/okay” or “not much.” No, I’ve been making lots of great improvements in my life – I want to be happy and courageous enough to SHARE that, not just glance over it because it’s “weird or uncomfortable” to do so.
- Speaking louder and slower instead of holding back in a timid, weak manner.
- Interrupting ANY pattern the moment it feels weak or out of alignment – no matter how long it’s been a habit or how “familiar” the pattern might be to someone else.
These are much more difficult than relying on old habits but over time they get easier and more natural.
( 4. ) Not having periods of exclusive solo connection.
I am typically connected to someone or something:
- 1:1 time with a friend.
- Youtube video (entertainment, inspiration, education).
- Listening to music.
- Facebook scrolling.
- Podcast (inspiration, education).
- Messenger chats.
- Marco Polo.
- Talking with the family.
… at all times. Even the moments I get off a Zoom call with someone, within 5 seconds I am already tabbed over to an internet browser and browsing something else, watching some video, or listening to music.
There’s very little time where I am with my own thoughts, exclusively. Instead, it’s often filled with someone else’s content, words, or even perceiving what they may be saying.
Lately it takes a lot of effort to get to the point where I’m purely by myself and have a chance to converse with myself within my own head, listen to the intuitions from the heart, and be in a space of raw presence of this very moment.
The creation of this post came about from frustration and feelings of overwhelm. Only when I stopped alt-tabbing (opening Facebook over and over) and let my mind actually REST for a damn minute was when ALL the emotions and motivation came rushing through.
I experience large periods of inner growth and progression on projects when I’ve fully disconnected from everything outside of myself or what I’m doing in my immediate presence.
These periods of time might be literally sitting by myself, staring out the window or up at the sky. Or closing my eyes and just laying/sitting and breathing.
Other times it may be reading (which at least prevents me from being able to “alt-tab” to something else). It may be journaling, writing a post like this, cleaning the home, going on a walk, or being so immersed in a project that I forget to check texts, messenger, and other websites.
Anything where I can be purely alone with my own heart, uninfluenced by the outside or my perceptions of what the outside is saying or thinking. This state allows me to feel integrated with the body/heart. The mind calms down from its frantic energetic state and I can suddenly feel ‘free’ to do as I please in a way that benefits myself AND those around me.
If I avoid that state of disconnection and solo connection, then I run the risk of the day turning into ‘repeat mode’ of previous days – where I’m bouncing from one avoidant behavior to the next.
Disconnection is the keystone for seeing and hearing the self. Sometimes it takes 30 seconds of “uncomfortable solo-time,” other times it may take 60 minutes. Or an entire day. But it’s necessary.
( 5. ) Not having a clear direction, goal, or purpose.
Not having a clear direction gets me in trouble a lot because it leaves me in a state of ‘passivity’ where I don’t feel PULLED out of bed in the mornings. Resistance will always be there, but when I am connected to a clear direction, goal, project, or purpose it’s hard to get to sleep and easy to wake up.
Even for activities and work I normally enjoy I can feel immense Resistance if I’ve lost connection with my purpose or heart-led direction.
For the times I DO have my purpose laid before me, or a direction I know I want to be moving, or some major life goal I want to achieve … I have made a habit of not looking at or reviewing it on a regular basis.
“If I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist!” A sly little trick of Resistance.
Casey Neistat once said [paraphrased], “You should be doing one of two things in your life. Figuring out where you’re going – or going there.”
As I establish my purpose, direction, and/or goals, I need to have those presented somewhere easily seen and have a habit of regularly reviewing my goals.
Sometimes it just takes 3 minutes to re-read something I’ve written (because purpose or my ‘why’ is embedded into it), or watching something that I KNOW will spark an inner connection to a purpose.
Which Is the MOST Remarkably Stupid?
If I had to pick ONLY ONE thing to stop doing that would be beneficial and I am ACTUALLY choosing to practice stopping …
And I really have to only pick ONE (otherwise I won’t do ANY) –
… It would have to be to stop “not following through on my word.”
Rephrased: I will practice following through on my own word – to myself and others.
Out of the five, this one has overlapping impact on and with all the others because I’ll…
- be less likely to overcommit when I know what I can and can’t follow through on.
- be more inclined to speak truthfully (or at least not lie) when I know my limits and what I actually want to follow through or not on.
- take more time for myself because I know I’ll need to more aggressively block out and protect my time for myself, clients, and friends/family in order to follow through.
- literally need clear directions in order to know WHAT I am even following through on, or understanding the reason why behind it all.
Following through becomes a keystone to help build other empowering habits.
Following Through As a Tool to Show Up More In Life
To better “show up” in life, I’ll start with improving my ability to “follow through on my own word.”
If I DON’T follow through, then my word and claims will progressively matter less and less. I won’t be reliable or trustable to anyone nor myself.
I have to give myself grace as I make efforts to improve my ability to “follow through” and recognize that it’s a gradual improvement, like all habits and characteristics we intend to implement.
Following through will look like …
- Mono-tasking on work and tasks (for myself or others) and not bouncing around, constantly opening new tabs (e.g., Pomodoro Technique or creating 60/90 minute “Airplane Mode” work sprints).
- Saying no to games, videos, and socialization if I’ve completely distracted myself from work I had committed to.
- Following my calendar as much as I can [without being a ‘tyrant’].
- Not immediately saying I’ll do something if I haven’t done a quick check-in to ask, “Do I want to do this? Can I? Will I?”
- Keeping a log of when I DO follow-through [to create acknowledgement of progress] and when I DON’T [to create awareness of when I am slacking].
- Asking people I can trust in my life to hold me accountable, even in a simple or gentle way of pointing out that, “You said that you were going to do X. You didn’t do X. How come? What got in your way? How can you show up so this doesn’t happen again? How can you amend this tonight/tomorrow?”
- Asking for support when I’m overwhelmed – even if it’s to casually chat, play a game to RELAX (not be in work mind), get input on my situation, delegate a part of my overwhelming situation, or get live-action accountability to begin releasing the overwhelm in that moment.
- Only writing down what I’m ACTUALLY going to do that day and practicing being ‘realistic’ with how much I think I can get done (i.e., not adding a massive load of tasks I won’t have time for).
Do I expect to do ALL of these amazingly? Nope. I don’t even expect to do most of them. It’s an exercise in seeing possibilities and new outcomes instead of dwelling on the negative or the ‘way things have been.’
The bolded statement above is my core intention out of this list and everything else is a bonus. Each time I review this post it’ll prompt me to think on those particular solutions. Being notorious for overcommitting, simply choosing only one to make the “win/fail” metric should have greater impact than focusing on multiple.
The Value of Following Through and the Consequence of Not
Being in the vicinity of life coaches over the past year, combined with years of personal development books, seminars, conversations, and so forth – I am embodying the importance of laying out the positive and negative consequences of doing (or not doing) certain things you desire to do/change.
The Self Authoring Program helped a lot with thinking in terms of the “positive impact of doing …” and the “negative impact if you don’t …” regarding any goals or directions in life.
The VALUE of following through on my own word and showing up in my life …
- Increases deliverables for clients.
- Improved income.
- Skills continue to improve.
- More reliable/trustable to friends/family.
- Accomplish more in my life.
- Regular feelings of fulfillment/contentment.
- Seeing ‘big picture’ endeavors with an optimistic, thriving viewpoint.
- More regular states of flow.
- Getting to support communities, friends, and family.
- Feeling ‘strong’ in my ability to actualize what I envision.
The CONSEQUENCE of NOT following through on my own word and NOT showing up in my life …
- Losing clients.
- Nobody trusts my word.
- Skills gradually deteriorate.
- Not fulfilling any of my dreams/goals.
- Feelings of despair and depression due to no progress in life.
- Living with regret.
- Living on the sidelines for things I WANT to do.
- Never having “enough” income to get by.
- Constantly overwhelmed.
- Not being able to “give to” community, friends, and family.
- Always thinking ‘survival’ and ‘small picture.’
- Feeling ‘weak’ in my ability to take control of my life.
The key is to regularly review, add to/trim, and continue to “show up” to this intention so that I can continue to embody the “value for” and “consequence for not” of my goal or purpose at the time.
Growth May Feel Like Drudgery – It’s Always Worth It
Despite the “Resistance” fighting me at every step of the way, I have really enjoyed the process of writing this article. Since not having written in a while, it feels like such a release and expansion to trudge through the process.
I forgot how much personal growth and self-awareness comes out of these writings.
One of the benefits of taking longer to write and edit this is that it’s forced me to re-read my own words and intentions. I noticed that I had literally forgotten some “intentions” from this article by the time I get around to writing on it again. There is “so much” going on in my mind at any given time that intentions aren’t easily “anchored in” long term.
Re-reading and editing created a reminder that I do want to do this particular task. I now have that opportunity to go grab a notebook like I intended earlier in the article to track my ‘follow through’ awareness. (Done! ✔)
That’s my take-away and next step: following through on my own damn word – starting with this article.
Does this resonate? What’s one remarkably stupid thing you’re doing? I’d love to connect and talk about it.
Thanks for reading,