Take a Break
Showing Up for Yourself
Being able to show up for yourself is an essential skill for changing any habit. You need to be able to trust that you can keep promises to yourself, like “I’m only going to have one glass of wine at this party tonight.” But notice that I said this is a skill – not a personality trait.
Showing up for yourself is something you can practice and get better at over time. Right now, the main obstacle to keeping your promises to yourself is simply the fact that you’ve never been taught how to do it. From the time we’re children we’re taught how to show up for other people: parents, friends, teachers, and eventually bosses. We’re taught to seek other people’s approval rather than prioritizing our approval of ourselves.
In this episode I dive into all of this in depth and explain how you can get better at showing up for yourself. I talk about why it can often feel like there are two versions of ourselves – one who wants to keep promises and one who just wants to break them – and how the think-feel-act cycle plays into this. And I highlight why it’s so important that you accept yourself and believe that you’re capable of change.
Visit www.rachelhart.com/urge to find out how to claim your free meditation that will teach you how to handle any urge without using your willpower.
What You’ll Discover
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Join me for my upcoming live webinar series – I’ll be coaching in real-time and answering any questions you might have about your drinking. There are limited live spots, but if you sign up you’ll have access to the webinar replay, too!
Welcome to the Take A Break podcast with Rachel Hart. If you are an alcoholic or an addict, this is not the show for you, but if you are someone who has a highly functioning life, doing very well, but just drinking a bit too much and wants to take a break, then welcome to the show. Let’s get started.
Well hello everyone. We are talking about showing up for yourself today. Let me tell you, this is a skill that you must learn how to do. You must learn how to keep your word to yourself if you want to succeed at keeping any of your commitments, but especially if you want to keep your commitments around whether or not you are drinking and how much you are drinking.
If you want to be able to trust yourself when you say I’m not going to drink tonight, and then know that you’re not going to drink. If you want to be able to trust yourself when you say I’m committed to only having one glass of wine and not have any more than that. This requires learning how to show up for yourself and I want you to know this first and foremost. It is a skill. It is something that you can practice and develop.
Do not tell yourself oh, it’s just not who I am. Do not believe that it’s a personality trait, that showing up for yourself is something that is wired into your DNA, that it’s something you’re born with. That is never the case. It is a skill that you learn. The problem is most of us are never taught anything about it or how to practice it, how to become someone who shows up for themselves.
So let’s talk about first what is getting in the way. What is getting in the way of showing up for yourself? And I will tell you, what I believed for the longest time about myself and I hear this from my clients over and over again is this sense of I want to show up for myself, I am desperate to keep my commitments, I am desperate to be able to trust myself and trust that I do what I say I’m going to do but I feel like I have this split personality.
That’s how I felt for so long in my life. I felt like there was a morning version of Rachel who had all these good intentions about what she was going to do with the next 24 hours in front of her. Going to go out for a run after work, I was going to eat healthy all day long, and I definitely wasn’t going to drink too much.
In fact, that morning version of me was like, you don’t even need it. You don’t even need to drink tonight. But there was also an evening version of me, and it seemed like once that evening version of me appeared, all my good intentions from the morning, they just went right out the window. So I would stay late at work and I would skip that workout, and I’d end up ordering in food and I’d eat way too much of it and then when I finally did get home, what would I do? I would plop down on the couch with a glass of wine, just hoping for a little bit of relief.
So what is going on? Why does it feel like there’s this split personality inside of you? Why does it feel like there’s that morning version of you who has all the best intentions in the world but then the evening version shows up and they all go out the window?
Now, I have talked about this on the podcast before. If you want to learn more about it, episode 27 is all about competing desires and why we have competing desires in the brain. It’s going to help you really understand that kind of tug of war going on between your higher brain and your lower brain. Because that lower brain, that more primitive part of you, it wants immediate gratification. It wants what is easy.
And so of course, it always wants to drink. But your higher brain, it wants something bigger. It cares about much more than immediate gratification. It cares about much more than just what is easy in the moment because it cares about your future and your goals and your dreams, and it knows, you know what, this habit of drinking is not getting me where I want to go.
So the question is well, why does that lower brain always seem to win? And the reason is pretty simple. The lower brain has speed on its side. It is fast. It is that part of you that can just act without that conscious thought. Of course, there is always thought there. You’re just not fully aware of it. And speed is always going to win in the moment unless you bring consciousness to what you are doing.
Consciousness is how you intervene with speed. Consciousness, awareness, observation, all of that is the domain of the higher brain, and this is the reason why humans can change habits. Just because you develop a habit does not mean that you will be at the mercy of that habit for the rest of your life because you have a higher brain. You can intervene with speed, with consciousness.
So this is what happens when you have all these good intentions in the morning and then five o clock rolls around and you just go right into the habit. You go right into it doesn’t matter, I deserve it, who cares, I’ll start tomorrow, just this once. You aren’t bringing awareness to what is unfolding in front of you, and that’s happening in one of two ways.
Either you’re reaching for the drink or you’re reaching for the food, whatever it is, and you’re just kind of blocking it out, you’re not wanting to acknowledge what you’re doing, you’re kind of pretending that it isn’t happening even while you’re doing it. Or you’re aware, you’re just judging yourself incredibly harshly in the moment.
It’s like see, I knew I was lazy, I knew I was undisciplined, I knew I was weak-willed, I knew I would never figure this out. See? And both of these things will always backfire because you cannot change what you can’t see in your life. So if you’re blocking it out, if you’re pretending it’s not happening, you’ll never be able to change it, but also, when you are judging yourself harshly, you’re just creating more negative emotion that then you need relief from.
So there are different parts of your brain at work but also, there is the think-feel-act cycle that is unfolding all the time. So how do you feel at the end of your day? Are you telling yourself more often than not, I feel stressed and anxious, tired, worn out, fed up, exhausted, annoyed, inundated, overwhelmed? Well, if that’s the case, then you better start looking at the cycles that are unfolding for you because what you are telling yourself right now is not true.
You’re telling yourself well, I feel all these negative emotions at the end of the day because of what happened during my day, but that is never the case. How you feel is always a result of what you are thinking and right now, that’s just all automatic, default, knee-jerk thinking that you don’t even notice as thoughts. You don’t even notice it happening all day long. You just think you’re seeing the world as it is.
The think-feel-act cycle is going to unfold every day, all day long, whether you like it or not. Someone was saying to me recently, she was saying you know, but it’s so much work to pay attention to your thoughts and notice how they make you feel and write it all out and start doing the work of shifting them. And I told her, yeah sure, it does require work, but you know what also requires a lot of work? The constant worry and dread about your drinking and your weight and why you aren’t going after your goals in life. That’s a lot of work too.
So you really get to choose. Do you want to keep all that default thinking? There’s not enough time, I’m so behind, so and so shouldn’t be acting this way, I hate my job, I hate my commute, I hate everything. Do you want to keep all of that? Because if you do, if you want to know what it’s creating for you, all you have to do is look at the results you have in your life right now.
How much are you drinking? How much do you weigh? What are you doing? How are you spending your time? Just look at those results. Or do you want to do the work of actually changing? So you need to understand that the reason why it feels like you have a split personality or morning version or an evening version of yourself is in part because of how your brain is structured. It’s really witnessing the lower brain and the higher brain at work.
And it’s also in part has to do with how you feel differently in the morning and the evening because of the think-feel-act cycle that is unfolding all the time. So the question then is well, even once you understand that, why aren’t you showing up for yourself? Why aren’t you doing what you say you’re going to do? Why don’t you have your own back? Why don’t you keep your word to yourself?
And the answer is really, really simple. Because nobody ever taught you how to do it. I’m 100% serious. That is all that it is. You’ve just never been shown that this is something you can practice. Now, what you have been shown, what we are taught growing up is to show up for other people. Show up for your parents. Show up for your teachers. Show up for authority figures, and then eventually show up for your bosses.
And the question is well, why is it – why do we think we need to show up for these people? And if you start really asking yourself, you will always see that deep down, what you are doing is wanting their approval. That’s why you’re showing up, to get approval from them, to hear hey, you did a good job. You’re smart. You’re talented. I appreciate what you do. You’re worthy.
We’re always trying to collect these sentences from other people because we don’t know that we can say them to ourselves. We don’t know that we can think them ourselves, and if we do discover that, when we try to think them, they fall flat. They feel false. So we constantly think oh, the solution is I just have to get it from other people.
We are conditioned at such a young age to show up for others as a way to feel good about ourselves, but the problem is it doesn’t work that way. Feeling good about yourself doesn’t come from what other people say about you or how they treat you, and I really want you to hear this because it’s so important. Feeling good about yourself does not come from what other people say about you or how they treat you because other people’s words and other people’s actions, those are circumstances for you.
If they say I love you or I hate you, you did an amazing job or you did a terrible job, those are all circumstances. They don’t make you feel anything. They are neutral in the think-feel-act cycle until you have a thought about their words or their actions. What you’re thinking about what they are saying or doing, that’s what creates how you feel. Not the other person.
And the easiest way to understand for yourself that this really is true, what I’m saying right now is true, that other people, what they say, what they do, how they treat you does not create how you feel is just think of all of the times in your life where you’ve gotten approval. Someone has said you look great, you’re beautiful, I love you, I want to be with you, you’re doing amazing work, you did a great job.
Think of all the times you have gotten that approval and all the times you have immediately dismissed it. You’ve immediately said oh, it’s not true, they’re just saying that, they don’t mean it. They have to say it. And if you did believe it, if you did believe the words that they said to you, did that feeling last? Were you like okay, I got proof that I’m smart, I got proof that I’m beautiful, I got proof that I’m doing a great job in life, or was it fleeting?
Did it feel good for a moment but then you noticed you were just still chasing after the same thing? This is the easiest way to see that other people’s positive words and positive actions don’t create your feelings because even when you get it, it’s never enough. And the reason is because you haven’t changed your thoughts about you.
The think-feel-act cycle teaches us that the only thing that creates the feeling of acceptance inside of yourself is your thoughts about yourself. I feel accepted, I create that feeling when I accept myself. That is it. It’s not what other people do or say, it’s not the approval or disapproval that they have. It’s not when they say you did a good job or a bad job, or you’re wonderful or you’re horrible, or you’re smart or you’re stupid.
What matters is what you think about yourself, and only when your thoughts are telling you that you are okay and you are enough, then you feel good about yourself in a long-lasting way and are not constantly on this never-ending chase to try to obtain it from other people, which is never-ending because you never can obtain it from other people. You can only grant it to yourself.
If you think that approval is something that you get from others, you will always chase it and even when you do get it, you will likely dismiss it because it will not match the thinking in your own mind. And I will tell you, I have seen this in my own life. It did not matter how many teachers, how many bosses, how many authority figures told me, hey Rachel, you’re doing a great job.
It didn’t matter if my parents said we’re so proud of you. I always dismissed it because it didn’t line up with my own thoughts about myself, my own thoughts that were constantly telling me you know what, you’re behind, you’re failing, you’re not measuring up, you’re not enough, you’re a screw up. So because it didn’t line up with my own thinking, I would hear it from other people and I couldn’t revel in it. I would tell myself they’re just trying to be nice, they’re just saying it because they have to, they don’t really mean it.
This is a key component of why you aren’t showing up for yourself when it comes to your commitments around drinking. These things matter. You just simply aren’t used to having your own back. You must understand this when you decide that you are going to invest in working with another person to help you reach your goals, and I don’t care if it’s a coach or a consultant or a teacher or a trainer.
Listen, I think that investing in other people to help you is the best thing that you can do. It’s the best thing that I have ever done. I have a coach, I have a trainer, I have teachers in my life. I think everybody should have these things. But – and here is a big, big but – you must be on the lookout for when you notice that you are showing up for them, you are trying to get their approval rather than showing up for yourself.
And I can always tell when my clients are in this space. I can always tell when they are searching for my approval instead of doing the work to give themselves their own approval because they are terrified of what’s going to happen when they stop working with me. And you may have heard this yourself in your own life. Well, if I don’t have a trainer I won’t go to the gym. If I don’t have lessons scheduled with my teacher, I’m not going to practice piano. If I’m not working with a coach, I don’t have any incentive to do my thought work, I don’t have any incentive to set aside time and do these exercises.
You have got to learn the skill of showing up for yourself. Not the coach. Not the trainer. Not the teacher. It has to matter as much to you that you don’t disappoint yourself, as it matters to you right now that you don’t want to disappoint someone else. Because that is the reason that people give for why they show up for someone else. Well, I don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t want to let them down.
And that’s what I used to think too. But what about disappointing yourself? What about the ways in which you are letting yourself down? Why are you willing to do that? Why is that acceptable? Because it shouldn’t ever be. Disappointing yourself, letting yourself down should not ever be an acceptable thing.
Now please hear me. I don’t mean when I say this that you should punish yourself or yell at yourself or beat yourself up when you don’t show up for yourself. When you say I’m not going to drink and then you drink, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is don’t close your eyes. Don’t bury your head in the sand because that is not a kindness. The only kindness you can do in that moment is looking at what happened with compassion.
When I didn’t show up for myself, when I made a commitment and I didn’t follow through, what was I thinking in the moment? How was I feeling that led me to show up this way? Can I understand what was unfolding in my mind so that I can change it? You cannot do that if when you try to look at what happened, all you say to yourself is negative self-talk. I’m such a failure, I’m such a screw up, I never follow through.
This is what I know. The think-feel-act cycle will always, always, always show you what happened, why you didn’t have your back, why you didn’t follow through. And it will always give you the framework to figure out how to show up in a different way next time if you are willing to look.
Because here’s the thing; it’s not just that you’re currently telling yourself it’s okay to disappoint yourself as long as I don’t disappoint other people, but you have also bought into this lie and the lie is so pernicious. It will keep you stuck. It will keep you dependent on other people in your life for success if you do not stop believing it.
And the lie is simple. You have fooled yourself into believing that other people create magic in your life. Other people create success and positive results. You have fooled yourself into believing that it was the coach or the trainer or the teacher behind your success, and this is poison. There is honestly nothing worse that you could say to yourself.
Oh well, the reason I succeeded was because of this other person. No. That is always a lie. You created the success that you have in your life. Sure, someone may give you tools, someone may give you a new way of thinking, a new perspective, and I hope that’s what I’m doing for everyone who’s listening to this podcast. But they can’t do the work for you. That’s not how the think-feel-act cycle works.
I can’t put thoughts in your head. I can’t make you feel feelings. I can’t force you to take action. That’s all on you. You have got to start claiming the authority that you have in your life. The good news is that nobody ever took it away. Nobody ever removed that authority from you. You just didn’t realize that you hadn’t. You didn’t have any idea how powerful you were, how capable you are.
Client will tell me this all the time. They’ll say, you know what, you changed my life. I couldn’t have done it without you. And it’s lovely to hear but it’s not true. They’re wrong. They changed their life. They couldn’t have done it without themselves. That is the truth. I will show you the way. If you want to change your drinking, yes, you have got to learn how to allow your urges. You have got to learn how to start applying the think-feel-act cycle. You’ve got to learn how to start opening yourself up to negative emotions. You have to reframe your understanding of failure.
But you’re the one that has to walk down the path. I just show you the way. I am always telling the women that I work with the same thing. You have so much wisdom inside of yourself. I’m just showing you how to get it out, how to access it, how to unlock it, but that wisdom is yours. It’s already inside of you. I am constantly in awe of my clients and their brains and the things that they discover, and the deep well of wisdom that each of them has.
And this is why I’m not prescriptive in terms of telling you this is where you need to end up with your drinking because people always want to know, Rachel, what I am supposed to do? Should I never drink again? What do you do? Tell me exactly what you do. Well, I don’t know, I’m not you. I have clients who take a break from drinking and discover like me that life is way better, way bigger without alcohol, and they actually start to lose their desire for it.
I have clients who use these tools and go from drinking unconsciously every night to only a couple times a month. Is one better than the other? I can’t tell you that. Only you can answer what’s right for you. But just don’t believe the lie that you aren’t someone who doesn’t show up for herself. Don’t ever say that. I don’t show up for myself, I only show up for the coach or the trainer or the teacher, but I don’t know how to show up for myself.
That’s not true because you are just as equally a person who shows up for herself every single day as you are a person who doesn’t. And you know what? So is every human being? You show up for yourself all the time. You get out of bed, you go to work, you pay your bills, you take care of your kids, you do your errands. You are showing up for yourself. Don’t ever tell yourself that you’re not.
There is always an example that you can find of where you are showing up in your life. You are making good on your commitments. But here’s the thing, what do we do? Well, we dismiss it. Oh, that doesn’t really count, it’s too small, it doesn’t matter, just because it doesn’t fit with the story that you have that you don’t.
But telling yourself that you don’t show up for yourself in life just causes more negative emotion. And what do we know? The more negative emotion you feel, the more relief you will be in search of, which is why you have to pay attention to that when you want to change your drinking.
The think-feel-act cycle can teach you all of this. It can teach you why you are showing up in certain areas, why you have certain commitments that are non-negotiable, and why you aren’t in other areas. You can learn this. You can learn how to be someone who trusts that her word is as good as done, who trusts herself and her decisions around drinking. You can learn all of this because it’s a skill that you can practice and cultivate.
The morning version of you, she can carry over into the evening. You don’t have to be on this teeter-totter between your lower brain and your higher brain and constantly wondering which one is going to win. You can switch from being someone who’s just letting the lower brain run the show, calling the shots, and living a life that is all about immediate gratification and I want it, therefore I must have it, and switch into someone who is having the higher brain running the show. That part of you that is more evolved, the part of you that creates your humanness and cares about your future.
So the most common thing that I hear from all of you is okay Rachel, but how do I do this? How do I become this person? I listen to the podcast and it all makes sense but I don’t know how to apply it. I don’t know how to allow the urge to drink and not act on it. I don’t know how not to feel deprived when other people are drinking and I’m not. I don’t know how to stick to my commitment to take a break so that I can start teaching myself these things.
So for all of you who are interested, I’m actually going to give you a chance to bring all of these questions to me and learn from me live about how to coach yourself using the think-feel-act cycle. And watching this live, watching me teach this tool live, there really is nothing else like it. So for the whole month of August, I’m going to be teaching a series of free webinars where you can ask me anything about this work, anything about your drinking, and I’m going to show you how to actually use the think-feel-act cycle for anything.
Urges, challenging events, feeling shame, the next day, whatever it is, because it’s so important not just to hear me talk about it but to actually see the tool in action. And so that’s why I want to teach these webinars so as many people as possible who want to really start practicing this skill and learn this skill of how to show up for themselves have the opportunity to see how it is done.
I will tell you, I also love the idea of using August as a preparation month for taking a break in September. September is such a fantastic time to set goals in your life and make resolutions about anything because we have all this old programming from when we were in school and when September was the beginning of a new school year.
And we don’t have any of that kind of pressure that a lot of people feel when it comes to New Year’s and January and we have a whole brand-new year in front of us. So I think September is perfect and I love the idea of using August to really prepare for that. So if you want to reserve a place for this webinar series, all you have to do is visit rachelhart.com/askrachel and then check out the schedule and sign up.
The webinar, like I said, it’s live so you can get coaching real time. But if you look at the times and you can’t join live, everyone who registers will get a replay of the webinar series. There are limited spots though so make sure that you sign up if you want to participate. Listen, I believe wholeheartedly that working with coaches and teachers and trainers is amazing. It is such an incredible investment that you can make in yourself.
And I work with all three in my own life, but please, please, please, do not ever, ever again tell yourself that you can’t do it without them. Don’t tell yourself that they create success, they create results, they create the magic in your life. You are the only one that ever does that. You are so much more powerful than you give yourself credit for. You just need to step into that power. And when you do, the habit of drinking, I promise it will be a thing of the past.
Alright, that’s it for today everybody. See you guys next week.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Take A Break from Drinking. If you like what was offered in today’s show and want more, please come over to rachelhart.com where you can sign up for weekly updates to learn more about the tools that will help you take a break.