Mind & Body Wellness: Learning to Show Up to Life

running late to life

One of the most challenging life lessons I learned through yoga was how to show up on time. Before anyone starts feeling defensive or critical about what I'm about to say, I will reveal to you that even though I have secretly prided myself on having good manners there have been periods in my life when I was chronically late.

More importantly, even though I have digested this lesson of showing up, I anticipate that in the future I will have moments of being late again because it's not about being tardy or on time rather chronic lateness is a symbol in your life that can be used to unearth hidden anger, fear, and unacknowledged needs.

Yes, if you are a person who is chronically late, more than likely you have unexpressed anger that is triggered by the fear that one of your most cherished needs will not be met by the situation. So if you're ready to have this fear and unspoken need revealed to you, keep reading.

Learning to Show Up for Life via Yoga

The yoga studio I went to in Portland locked the door and nobody could get in or out during class. So that means if you didn't arrive on time you were out of luck. I didn't think too much about it because being a Midwestern gal I was trained to arrive at least 15 minutes early to every event. This rule never impacted me. However, when I was doing my 120 days of yoga I started to become dangerously close to being late. To the point where it was a 5:30am class, and I was scooting in at 5:28am and throwing my mat down. Even though I knew I was being inconsiderate to the woman at the front desk, the teacher, and my fellow students, I kept this behavior up for weeks.

Eventually I came to recognize my change in timeliness as a sort of mini-rebellion or resistance to change, which I wrote about here. I no longer felt in control of my life as I gave it over to the process of yoga and my teachers, but my mind grabbed hold of the last possible thing it thought it could control --  the time I arrived to class. I'd show up, but it would be on my time!

Eventually yoga broke me down and helped me understand that there wasn't anything valuable in resisting this mutually agreed upon timetable because here's what is most important: I wasn't rebelling against showing up for my teachers or yoga, I was rebelling against showing up for myself. I was resisting showing up to my own life. As soon as I swallowed that hefty pill, I realized I was the only one responsible for making my life what it is and no time clock, disappointed teacher, or rulebook on manners was going to help me change my game plan for living -- my life is determined by me.

Tardiness as a Tool for Love

I believe the more curious you are about your chronic lateness the more you might discover what's lurking below your actions. Right now you might be feeling a lot of conflicting emotions flying out at the computer as you read this post, possibly wanting to stick needles into a mini-Beth voodoo doll, but I say use your tardiness as a tool to be more loving and kind towards yourself, which will then naturally lead to more thoughtfulness towards others. Use it as a way in to find out what fear and need might be at the root of this unexpressed frustration. One of the best tools I have for discovering the fear residing underneath anger is my Mind Tricks worksheet that you can download by clicking here.

After you discover what it is that you fear. Feel the sadness that accompanies it, identify the need that you fear won't be met, acknowledge that you are the one responsible for working with this fear and need, and see if there is any concrete action you want to take to possibly alter the situation.

Additionally, if you live on the other side of the fence and are a person who consistently shows up on time, but the chronic lateness of others in your life has been emotionally challenging, then maybe you can use this same technique to develop silent empathy for the fear and unacknowledged needs your friends and family may be expressing by being late.


I'm always late to pick up the kids from my ex-wife. 
Fear: My ex-wife and I struggle to communicate after our divorce, and I'm afraid we'll end up arguing over something insignificant and spoiling my good mood.
Underlying Need For: peace, happiness, and ease
Action: Ask my ex-wife if we can do some counseling and learn how to communicate more effectively with each other.

I'm always late paying my rent.
Fear: I'm afraid I won't have enough money to survive, so I try to hold onto it as long as I can to feel more safe.
Underlying Need For: security and self-care
Action: Create a budget and look for ways to cut spending. Take on an extra job and save money in the bank as an emergency fund.

I'm always late to my monthly dinner date with my girlfriends.
Fear: Since having the baby, I've changed and have different interests now. These drinking dinners don't enrich my life as much as they use to. I'm afraid of telling them I don't want to come anymore and having my friends be angry at me.
Underlying Need For: to be understood and loved
Action: Talk to my friends about what I'm feeling and see if they want to do other things like take a walk in the park with me and the baby.

I'm always late to work this month.
Fear: I have a new boss who doesn't seem to value my working style, and I'm afraid to talk to him because he might fire me.
Underlying Need For: emotional safety, financial security, dependability, and to be valued
Action: Try to talk to my boss about what I'm feeling and thinking. If this is unsuccessful, start putting my resume together and networking for new jobs.

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