"Do not celebrate your success"
This is not a statement I am making, but it is a “correct” answer in an exam for a meditation course that I participated in. It is run by a yoga school. I call these kind of statements spiritual gaslighting.
Let me tell you why celebrating your success is so important…
In my 13 years of working in mental health and coaching I have seen many people embarrassed of talking about their wins and successes. When I ask about their strengths they would often blush, their body language would change inward. You could feel the discomfort in the room.
Most of the time it was a fear of seeming big-headed or appearing as arrogant. I am not talking here about false humility, but of shame.
When this happens I tend to ask about times that were tough, how they overcame them as well as their achievements. Whilst my clients share their stories I look out for signs of strengths they will have used to overcome adversity and note them down on a small whiteboard in front of me, away from my clients' sight. At the end I turn around the whiteboard and show my clients what I have identified. Maybe you can imagine the shock on many faces. When I explain each strength I have spotted, I give an example from what they have told me that proves that this is not some “let's make you feel better” exercise, but instead an honest positive representation of themselves. Those are some of the most beautiful moments in our sessions. Seeing someone else realize their worth right in front of you and transforming their self-esteem is priceless.
So why is it so difficult to celebrate?
Many of us tend to focus so much on the daily hustle and bustle and struggle to keep our heads down that we forget to celebrate the successes that we and others have achieved at work and in our private lives. Coupled with pseudo-spiritual statements as the above we are more likely to neglect celebrations. Many of us have never been taught to spot good character traits and strengths in ourelves or others. The effect: you start seeing your achievements negatively. If you focus on what you have not achieved and not on what you are doing, you are less likely to stick to the task and achieve your goals. By not noticing or downplaying your success, you tell yourself that you are doing nothing to be proud of and that you do not deserve to be celebrated. When we celebrate success, no matter how small a win is, we cultivate your success mentality. By telling yourself that success means success, you also succeed at building up your self-confidence and attitude to success.
There is a reason why it feels so good when we celebrate success, and it has to do with the neuro-happy chemicals in our brains. Dopamine is released into our brain when we expect to achieve something, and when we achieve it, it feels good, and we want more of it. This way you can condition yourself to seek out that experience again, potentially gaining momentum in productivity and growth. Taking time to celebrate, not just your own successes, but also the ones of others can elevate your levels of oxytocin and endorphins, increase serotonin and lower cortisol which is responsible for stress. You also experience more moments of positivity resonance with the people around you. These are moments of positive connection that strengthens your bond.
How to celebrate if you are not used to it or if you feel shame about it?
Don’t wait for big wins that we have been conditioned to see as the only worthy ones of celebrating. Start celebrating small wins. Those small wins have a ripple effect.
Here are six ways you can start celebrating today:
Once you are used to celebrating feel free to be more open about your wins and successes. Yes, you might experience envy here and there, but most people around you will join you in your celebration. You might even inspire others to aim for the same goals or to celebrate their own individual wins and successes.
Remember, whatever we do has a ripple effect. Just as much as teaching people that celebrating is not healthy can shut people down, sharing your joy and celebrating can teach people to experience healthy pride, increase their sense of self-confidence and bring people closer to each other. All starting off with one little celebration.