80% of success is showing up. ~ Woody Allen
I’m not really a Woody Allen fan, but I love the above quote. To me, from the perspective of living with intention and authenticity, there are two layers of meaning embedded in “showing up.”
The first layer of “showing up” is being fully present. That is, in addition to being physically somewhere, be mentally, emotionally and energetically there as well. Think of a time when you were with someone who really made you feel seen and heard. S/he really listened to you and “got” you. That person was fully present with you. Now, consider how often you are that person with others. How often do you truly show up?
As for the second layer, let me propose that “showing up” is literally doing just that, i.e., choosing consciously to be present, even if you’d rather be anywhere else. I bet you’ve had days when, for any number of reasons, showing up was just about all you could manage. You weren’t nearly at your all-time best, but rather the best you could muster for that day, and it had to be good enough. The good news is that, if you allow yourself to see it that way, it was good enough. Because, as human beings, we can’t do better than our best, even if our best fluctuates from one day to another. It’s our ego judgment that says otherwise.
Importance of Self-Acceptance
I’m not advocating complacency, settling for mediocrity, or making excuses for hiding from our full potential. Rather, being good with showing up in whatever condition we can manage at any given point in time is about cultivating non-striving acceptance. To honor the ebb and flow of life, the ups and downs of the human experience, non-striving acceptance is a critical practice. That’s because whatever we don’t accept, we resist. And, resistance to what we don’t want to accept is what ultimately creates pain and suffering. By cultivating non-striving acceptance, we can minimize the suffering we court for ourselves—and often for others, when we hold them accountable for making us feel safe.
When we don’t accept ourselves, we risk being trapped in perpetual judgments of “not good enough.” The rampant lack of self-acceptance is why personal development has been sadly mistaken as endless attempts to fix and improve ourselves in order to feel good enough. Feeling inadequate is a bottomless pit, unless we learn to accept ourselves unconditionally. If you’ve been following my writing for some time, you know that I’m a huge fan of Dr. Robert Holden’s work. He truly opened my eyes to seeing—really seeing—that no amount of self-improvement can ever make up for any lack of self-acceptance.
3 Keys To Cultivating Self-Acceptance
Having said all that, how do we cultivate non-striving self-acceptance? This is clearly an involved topic, but there are basically 3 keys to cultivating self-acceptance:
Key #1: Notice and release judgments. Judgments block acceptance. Practice becoming an inner observer of your self-talk. Pause every so often to pay attention to your inner dialogue. You may hear things like, “Boy, I really suck at this!” or “I’m an idiot!” or “Who do I think I am?” These are indictments from your inner critic, which is greatly threatened by self-acceptance. When you notice these judgments, realize that they are not the truth of who you are, nor do they serve you. Let these untruths go.
Key #2: Befriend your inner wise self. The average person has roughly 60,000 thoughts every day, out of which 95% or more are automatic and subconscious, repeating themselves day in and day out. Moreover, some 80%—or about 45,000 thoughts per day—are negative. That’s why our mind is so flooded with negative judgments tainting our self-perception.
A key practice in cultivating self-acceptance is to create space to listen to our inner wise self regularly. In doing so, we nurture our consciousness to remember that we’re always good enough, even when our actions might fall short of expectations every so often. We don’t equate a desire for higher competency in a skill to a fundamental need to prove our self-worth. Consider beginning your day with meditation and/or journaling. Allow your inner wise self to help you pilot your day consciously—and be good with whatever showing up as your best each day looks like.
Key #3: Be willing to be authentic and real with yourself. I’ve written about this before, and it’s so important that it warrants repeating. It’s critical not to shun what we judge as negative emotions, whether it’s fear, angst, disappointment, etc.
When we stop running away from the emotions we don’t wish to feel, we welcome back the parts/versions of ourselves we’ve inadvertently rejected along with unwanted emotions. We return to wholeness again. We learn to accept and honor that difficult emotions are just the ebb and downs of life, which are every bit as valid as the flow and ups of the human experience. When we’re able to do that, we cultivate unconditional acceptance and love in our consciousness.
Acceptance Leads to Success
From my own experience of cultivating self-acceptance over time, my perspective has continued to soften. As a result, I’ve become more able to accept and honor the objectively trying times in my life as valid parts of my journey. At the same time, I also see others with much wider latitude, having much deeper compassion and understanding for the fact that everyone is simply doing their best with their own journey. And, with all that in perspective, I can more easily just show up and be fully present in my sometimes vulnerable but real and authentic self—even on days when I really just want to hide under the covers.
To close, I definitely concur that a majority of life and success—whether or not it’s as precise as 80% per Woody Allen—is showing up. If we can show up and be fully present even when we don’t feel our absolute best, we are indeed succeeding in living authentically and intentionally. Is there a more successful way to live?
Over to you: What are your thoughts and definition of “showing up”? Does showing up constitute majority of success in life as you see it? Thank you for sharing your insights to enrich this discussion!
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