“You should celebrate!” your friend says brightly. “You’ve made so much progress, I hope you can see that.”
They’re well-meaning and sweet words.
You’re 20 pages into your novel, so it makes sense.
So why are you frowning and feeling like a little part of you is throwing a tantrum under your skin?
“I’m not done though!” the little voice in your head argues. “I need to finish before I think about celebrating.”
You take a moment so your response doesn’t come out as *grumble grumble.* And tell your friend, “Sure, I will.” The words are flat, unconvincing. You’re exhausted by the effort of your work, and have no extra energy to pretend to be happy about something you know needs much more work.
What happens when you. just. don’t. feel. like. celebrating?
Maybe you’ve reached a milestone in your project and everyone is telling you to celebrate your progress.
But you feel resistant. You don’t wanna celebrate!
Logically and rationally, celebration is a good thing. If you celebrate when you achieve success, you’ll feel good about continuing. It helps momentum. And it’s supposed to feel good.
So why don’t you feel good about celebrating?
You’re not ready to celebrate
It’s okay if you’re not feeling in a celebratory mood.
You might feel like you need to do MORE before you’re allowed to celebrate. Remember that your standards might be colored by a culture of productivity.
It is okay to take a break, in order to celebrate.
You don’t need to try to cover up the pain you’re feeling with happiness. If you’re feeling grief, feel that until it passes.
When celebrating is a cringey, big, loud, effortful to-do
What comes up for you when you think of the word celebration?
Balloons, gifts, big parties, cake with congratulations written in cursive, a cookie? A brand new journal and pen.
Maybe gifts are not your thing. They just collect dust in that closet.
And maybe you’re an introvert who cringes at the idea of a big loud to-do.
You can’t have food rewards, because that goes against your diet. So no cookies or cake.
You just don’t want to put in the effort. You see other people’s celebrations on social media, and can’t imagine what it would take to create that sort of celebration.
Oof, and dressing up? Your sweats and hoodie are way more comfortable.
A gentler way to celebrate
I used to think that celebration had to be a big, loud, effortful to-do. For this reason, I resisted it. Even when I knew that celebration could be simple, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. It was too much work, anyway.
Now I know celebration doesn’t have to always be about “doing” (like going out and buying something, or having a party).
It can also be about “being” with yourself in celebration.
Naming the success and really feeling it in the body. Making space for the goodness, the hard work put in, the satisfaction of accomplishment.
It’s harder than it seems, without stopping to question if the success is “worthy enough” to celebrate and take space for.
Take a breath
With my clients, sometimes if I’ve pointed out something they did well, I can see them kind of holding their breath.
I invite them (and you) to pause, take a breath, soften, and let it sink in.
Simply acknowledging and feeling success can go a long way.
Try it out
What did you accomplish?
- I wrote for 30 minutes four times this week.
- I finished my first chapter.
- I received a powerful insight when I took some time to journal when I was feeling down.
- I got a great idea that I’m excited about writing.
How does it feel in the body?
- warmth in the chest
- chin lifting
- eyes closing
- solidness in the legs
- effervescent bubbly energy
- feeling of openness
Take the time to pause and appreciate something that happened. Breathe the goodness in.
You don’t need to wait until you accomplish something. You don’t need to have finished your book, or written your first draft.
Just turn your attention to what you’ve done, even if it seems tiny. This way, you build the muscle to get better and better at noticing opportunities for appreciation.