“That’s great, let’s keep it moving.” This is basically what I would tell myself with every win, big OR small.
I could hold all kinds of space for the emotions that dragged me down – sadness, frustration, disappointment – but holding onto joy? That was a whole different story.
So, I ask myself – what’s up with that? What’s so hard about celebrating myself with myself? And ALSO – what’s so hard about opening up to celebrate my wins with others?
When I recently held my virtual series “Going All In for your 2023 Career Breakthrough”, our final session was about this very topic of celebrating our wins. The resistance and discomfort was palpable – and something I had seen over and over with my 1:1 clients as well. It was clear that it’s high time that I give this topic the space it needs, as a part two to my article on Radical Uplifting – which was about supporting others.
So let’s get into it. And yes, the title is definitely inspired by the song What’s Love Got To Do With It.
What’s so hard about self-celebration?
First of all – let’s consider what examples we have had in our lives. Think about your parents, siblings, community and culture you grew up in. Ask yourself (or better yet, journal) these questions:
- What were you shown was okay or not okay about celebrating self?
- What messages were you given as part of the culture you grew up in?
- Was it about eating humble pie?
- Were you told explicitly or implicitly not to gloat or boast?
- How did the people in your life practice self-love or honor themselves?
- What did it look like when things went well in your household?
Personally – I don’t remember my parents celebrating themselves much. If I’m honest with myself, sometimes I felt in competition with my own family – with jealousy looming or grief about some dream that never came true. And the more people I talk to – the more I realize this is a thing. Jealousy is a thing within families – and it’s not just with siblings, it’s with parents as well – perhaps a harder concept to wrap your head around.
In truth, my experiences with celebration growing up were mixed; there were things we celebrated and those were generally speaking, the big milestones and birthdays. They included milestones like the band concert and being the lead in a musical but looking back, we didn’t give a lot of space for blessings and joy and overcoming the little things, which were actually really hard.
Here’s another thing about my journey of celebrating – nothing ever felt enough for me to celebrate, which was really about the fact that I never felt like I was ever enough. Even as recently as looking at the speed of my business growth – when did I give myself permission to celebrate? Early on I would refuse to celebrate each new client, because I was telling myself a story about what I wasn’t doing – like I wasn’t giving myself a paycheck and so on and so forth. I would diminish my little wins, which were actually really important, big wins that I appreciated and lived for. I set such high expectations for myself, which meant I never gave myself permission to celebrate – and that was yet another form of my own self-sabotage.
We have these life experiences which we can point to, but there are also bigger, meta realities as well. Patriarchy anyone? Let me not get on a soapbox about how the patriarchy plays a role – for everyone. This topic is a whole book and a half in and of itself – but suffice it to say that we do all kinds of things to be liked and accepted by others – and for women and girls that often looks like keeping ourselves and our wins small. Sometimes even diminishing what we’ve accomplished.
If any of this resonates with you, please know you are not the only one. It’s such an epidemic and the way to start to shift things is to ask yourself:
Do you subscribe to what you’ve been modeled and taught about celebrating yourself on both subconscious and conscious levels?
As difficult as it is to celebrate ourselves, with ourselves, let me tell you what I think is even more challenging; to celebrate, be lifted, seen and acknowledged in the company of another.
This experience can be so life changing, and I’m going to tell you why this is so important and valuable.
Why Are We Allergic to Celebrating Ourselves With Others?
I hear time and time again, especially from women – ‘it’s so much easier for me to celebrate others, than take it in for myself’. Why is that?
Let’s unpack this one. Let’s name some things, shall we?
First of all, some people do not know how to hold space for other people’s wins. Some people do not see the truth that when they are in community with folks who are winning, they too are part of that vibration. It’s like this – if you’re around someone who’s positive and joyful – does that tend to rub off on you? Do you tend to have a little more hope? Sure you do! Does that then fuel you for what you’re focusing on in your life? Most definitely.
Now, consider that your friend is feeling good about her recent promotion – does it serve you to wallow in self-pity? Or does it serve you better to say YES – you are winning, which means I am winning, so let’s celebrate together?
Yes, you may have feelings of envy or jealousy, but if you stop to think about it – it’s worth asking yourself why you struggle to share in the joy. There is a lot to discover about yourself by digging into this question. You will likely discover what needs healing, what dreams need honoring and what frustrations you may have with yourself.
Here’s my point with this; people who struggle to help you celebrate – is a reflection on their own stuff and it’s NOT ABOUT YOU. Of course, assuming you aren’t a narcissistic, self-absorbed, arrogant human. 😉
Onto my next point; we may have past experiences where we attempted to celebrate with others, but it didn’t go as planned. Perhaps, we were REALLY excited about something (or hell, even just mildly excited) and then we shared it with people that matter to us, but they didn’t give us the response we were looking for. That experience can stay with us for YEARS because it can be extremely demoralizing, and disappointing. Or perhaps on a smaller scale, you share your wins with someone you love and they immediately start talking about themselves. These experiences can teach us to protect ourselves and not share our joy. And while they may have been a survival strategy at some point (to keep us feeling accepted and loved), this protection is now keeping us from letting love in. It’s not serving us to keep our wins to ourselves because we deserve, and we are worthy of all the damn joy this life has to offer us.
So, what will you choose? Will you keep the door closed and not let anyone in? Will you close off your heart and refuse to even honor the DESIRE to be celebrated?
No. No you do not. You brave up.
You carefully select and experiment with who can be there to uplift, support and celebrate you. You put down the shields of self-protection, and you let yourself receive, RECEIVE I tell you!!
Why is this important? That’s a great question – because I see how so many of my clients have lived their ENTIRE LIFE without the experience of being celebrated to the max. I see how past, unresolved history and hurts have keep their heart closed to even the possibility. I, myself have also had to rewire my brain.
Here’s the thing: what we focus on grows. When we give all our energy over to the heartache and pain in our life and we don’t let the good times flourish – what we’re doing is allowing our entire garden to be overtaken by WEEDS. WEEDS I tell ya. AND we’re denying ourselves our birthright to experience community and the joy that comes when we get to be in the middle of the circle with our people dancing around us in a circle. We’re denying ourselves the celebration of being our own hero and we’re denying ourselves the ability to be seen and heard by others, which offers us the ability to know and feel that we DO belong here.
You know what’s changed for me, since I’ve rewired myself on this? Since I’ve found my tribe, and since I’ve weeded out those that don’t belong in my inner circle? I’ve found that it feels REALLY FREAKING AMAZING to be celebrated by others. I found that when others celebrate me, I can give myself even more permission to celebrate me. You see it’s not about external validation. It’s about deepening my own love and appreciation for myself. And bit by bit, I know that by giving more space to feel joy, I’m attracting more joy. And when I fill my own cup in this way, I have even more space to celebrate others – which also actually, gives me joy.
So, here’s what I want you to remember about celebrating.
- a tool for building positive momentum
- an act of self-love
- a practice
- a magical tool for attracting more of what you want
- an antidote to our inner critics who are keeping us from playing big
- sometimes uncomfortable, but do it anyway
- one of the ways to be your own best friend
- smashing the patriarchy
- your birthright
I’m gonna be honest with you – a big part of the work I do with my clients is to help them get comfortable with celebrating themselves AND being celebrated by others (including myself). I see how this contributes to confidence, to discovering new possibilities and to honoring the journey of life. If you could use some help with this, lets chat – set up a call with me here.
We are in a magical time of year – where we get to see new growth sprout from the ground. I wish for you new growth as well, in this area of celebrating yourself. You made it through a long winter, you’ve been through some thangs, and you deserve to celebrate how far you’ve come. You being here is the testimony. I celebrate you for that and I want to know – are you willing to celebrate you for that too?
Note: This article was also posted on Medium.