Being there for performances, events, dates and times of need shows love.
Woody Allen is often credited with saying “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” I don’t know what the statistics would say about the proportion of love that is expressed through “showing up” but my guess is that, in successful relationships, it is large. “Don’t tell me, show me.” “Don’t talk the talk; walk the walk.” There was even the hit song from My Fair Lady, “Show me”.
What do we show up for?
- Performances. When someone we love presents or performs — in an athletic event, in a concert, in a gallery, on stage, at the podium — we can show up and applaud. Sharing the moment is a powerful way to add to the store of happy memories.
- Events organized by the loved one. A race or walk-a-thon to support a charity? A lecture series? A bake sale or car wash at the high school? Even a lemonade stand in support of a current worthy cause. Participation matters.
- Celebrations. Planned well in advance or spontaneous, celebrations are worth the effort because attendance means voting with your feet. When a grandson’s soccer team won the first state championship in their division for his school, his town hastily organized a ceremony, preceded by a parade through the streets. Showing up says I love you. We were there.
- Agreed-upon dates. No matter how busy your schedule, arriving in a timely fashion for an agreed-upon date is not only a mark of respect, it says that you do not consider your own time more important than that of your loved one. Not showing up can be brutal in its effect. If for some reason you need to cancel, do let him or her know.
- In times of need. Showing up when things are good is often easier than showing up when life is challenging. Concrete assistance may be welcome, as discussed earlier in “Helping”. But sometimes sitting silently, perhaps Listening, shouts “I Love You” more loudly than words ever can.
How does Showing Up show I love you?
It underscores that what matters to the loved one, the choices that he or she makes, are recognized and supported. Knowing that your parents or grandparents (or friends or other family) are in the stands tells an athlete or other performer that her supporters care enough to make the effort and sacrifice their own activities to be there.
- It says that you want to share in what is important to the loved one. Sharing builds bonds. It is basic to attachment.
- Showing up is a way to pay attention. And where attention goes, so goes energy.
Why is Showing Up a way to show love?
- Showing up at demanding times reminds the loved one that you will be around when moments are difficult and not just when they offer entertainment or information. Your behavior tempers fears of abandonment or that the relationship is transactional.
- At the same time, showing up for happy moments sends a message that you are able to receive the joy of sharing such moments that your loved one is offering.
Conflicts — in schedules, priorities, capacities — are inevitable and will be addressed in a later post. But when you make a choice to show up for the loved one, you send a silent message that tells them, loud and clear, how important they are to you. You offer an example of how to love that the other can learn from. The fact that Harry Chapin recently re-released the timeless “The Cat’s in the Cradle” reminds us how powerful modeling can be.
When was the last time you made an effort to Show Up? Was it for a positive event or a challenging one? Did you have time to plan or was it spontaneous or an emergency? What was your loved one’s reaction? Did you ever wish someone had shown up for you? How would the moment have been different for you if they had? Did you resent their absence?
Copyright 2017 Roni Beth Tower First published on Psychology Today, Life, Refracted