Celebrate Success

The art of self congratulation

In the time I have been working I have noticed that people do not like to give themselves a pat on the back for things. Everyday, I witness people overcoming amazing trauma and difficulties. I sit with them as they grow and uncover new ways of being. I support them as they face the twists and turns of their relationships. These people aren't unusual - we are all doing it. Yet very few people will stop and take a moment to recognise the great things they are accomplishing. When I remark on their courage, determination or success they get shy and dismiss my remarks - as though I'm exaggerating.

I have found that people tend to offer the same reasons as to why they don't self-congratulate:

  • They had never thought of it
  • They think it is unnecessary or ridiculous
  • They associate it with bragging, being egotistical or proud
  • They never see their achievements, only what is still left to achieve (perfectionism!)

But let me ask you - would you climb Mt. Everest without stopping to relish the view? Of course not! You would be considered mad if you climbed all the way up and didn't stop to congratulate yourself and marvel at the incredible vista. And in fact you would stop at numerous points on the way up and enjoy the view. But on the other hand, you wouldn't stay there all day gorging yourself on success. After all, you still have to get back down!

I believe we need to apply the same philosophy to the rest of our life. Why? Well, because it's part of our human nature. We like to see our progress. We need to know how far we have come. We need the inspiration it provides to continue climbing as it gets higher and more treacherous. We thrive on the recognition from our successes; it stimulates us to extend our efforts further and further.

When you think about it we are all climbing mountains of one kind or another? We are all of us some way towards scaling Mt. Career, Mt. Self Growth, Mt. Relationship, Mt. Family; each of us climbing several of these at any one time. And it seems to me like there is no end point to any of them, just new twists and turns. So if we don't celebrate along the way, it's unlikely we ever will.

Giving yourself recognition doesn't need to be showy or outlandish - although it can be! Sometimes it is fun just to brag madly about how wonderful you are…And rather than show that you are 'full of yourself', I think this shows a capacity to not take yourself too seriously.

However, it might feel right just to have a quite moment of internal acknowledgment about what you have achieved, realized, overcome, contained, liberated, or expressed. Or there might be a special reward that you give yourself after a particularly hairy part of the climb! How you do it is irrelevant - just do it and observe the incentive it brings to your next life challenge!



Posted on 20 May 2005 in - Library - Burnout and Balance

Michelle McClintock


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