Why are we afraid to self celebrate?
Last week I sent out a newsletter. It went out to my whole database of people who have signed up to receive words from me. It isn’t a huge list, but there are nearly 200 people on there and I am appreciative of every single person.
In the newsletter I usually just download words that come straight from my heart. Sometimes it is emotional, sometimes it is poetic, sometimes it is simply to let people know about something they might be interested in. It flows pretty naturally and grows organically.
This week I braved the topic of celebration.
As we near the end of each year I often sense a rush to move forward, to hurry into another year so that the challenges from the one before can become part of last year’s memories. A fresh clean slate.
But what I really want to do is to take some time before we end the year to review, reflect and celebrate the beauty of 2018. All of it. The hardships and the highs - equally in pieces, because everything shapes the people we are right now, and the people we are becoming.
So I brought up the topic of celebration in the newsletter this week. Celebrating ourselves specifically.
I spent some time writing out three things I wanted to celebrate about 2018, and I invited everyone to respond to me with three things they wanted to celebrate about themselves.
It brought up fear for me - I will admit to that - because to celebrate myself and admit that I was proud of myself still brings up beliefs that people will think I am showing off and being conceited. I worried it was a newsletter full of self indulgent praise - but I had a point to it, and a heartfelt intention.
Despite my fears, I wrote my celebrations down and I nervously pressed send.
I knew it was a tough ask, but I was shocked and saddened with the response.
Just one amazing, brave soul hit reply and celebrated themselves with me. Just one person.
At first I blamed myself. Perhaps my big fear of people thinking I was a show off was in fact a reality? Quite possibly people were just uninterested in it. But over half of the people on the list opened the email - so I know that more than one person read it.
I felt really, really sad that people simply weren’t taking the time to celebrate their achievements. I do appreciate that people have busy lives and that my emails are not the focal point of their week. But celebrating ourselves - the big and the small things - SHOULD be a focal point. It shouldn’t be something that gets swept under the carpet, or hidden away.
We should be taking the time to reflect on the magic of just being here, and celebrating that we have navigated life so far.
And then the sadness turned a little bit to anger actually… or maybe more frustration than anything.
For so many years I believed that it was conceited, arrogant and unpleasant to talk about things that I was proud of.
I can’t help but feel anger over this being ‘the norm’.
I was terrified of being called a ‘big head’, or other people thinking that I was ‘full’ of myself and therefore labeling me as a not very nice person. So I made myself smaller, I dimmed myself, I never took time to celebrate when good things happened, let alone actually verbalise them externally.
If something worth celebrating happened in my life, it was quickly forgotten in a quest to move on to the next thing.
My biggest fear was that people would think I was not a nice person. That I wasn’t kind. I see that now as a fear of not being loved or ‘loveable’ - but I will save that realisation for another blog post!
I battled with this through teenage years and my twenties, and it has only been in the last few years I have started to feel brave enough to say kind things about myself instead of the poisonous and toxic words that seemed to come so naturally before.
So I am curious - what does self celebration bring up for you?
How do you feel about the thought of celebrating what you have achieved this year?
Do you feel resistant and like your achievements are not ‘worthy’ of sharing? Or that it would make you a ‘bad’ person if you were to stand up and say how proud you are of something you have done?
I lovingly call bulls*it on this mentality, and ask… no in fact… I beg you to bust through this myth and make a list of all your proudest achievements from 2018. Everything from overcoming obstacles, making changes, taking up a new hobby, speaking your truth about something… anything and everything… all of it!
And if you still think there is nothing to celebrate… I urge you to look again. Even the darkest times have something in them where you can feel proud, even if it is simply for surviving the toughest days of your life.
And what do you think when you see other people celebrating themselves?
Does it make you feel icky? Do you think they are arrogant and ‘not a good’ person?
It is OK if you do - this is a by-product of years of conditioning and society telling us that being proud of ourselves is negative. The only way we can begin to shift this mindset pattern is by staring it straight in eye, with compassion.
That means - if feelings of judgement come up, don’t turn on yourself in a harsh way, simply notice that you have felt that way and then question what it is that makes you feel uncomfortable or critical.
It may be something that simply doesn’t resonate with you. It may be the person in question is reflecting something back at you. It may be bringing up something from a past experience which is trying to get your attention.
It might feel awkward and you might prefer not to face it, but I urge you to stay with the curiosity and dig a little deeper. These are wounds that are coming up to be looked at and healed, and it is only by courageously seeing these shadows and less desirable traits in ourselves that we can bring them to the light and move through them.
In a world where there is so much pain and suffering, to join hands and celebrate eachother, and ourselves, is no bad thing I don’t think.
If we are to shift this pattern of self depreciating instead of self celebrating, then it has to start with us. With me, and with you.
So I invite you to share, in the comments, or on social media, or in an email to me, something you are proud of. Something you wish to celebrate.
By showing others that it is OK to celebrate, that it is OK to be proud of ourselves, we can start to change this perspective.
Let’s create a ripple of celebration. Let’s rebel against society and become our own personal cheerleaders, and in turn inspire others to do the same.