What Not Celebrating Yourself Does to You

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Recently I reached the level of Elite in my doTERRA business and I gained a new yoga class, my first one in London. And the same thing that often happens to me happened again. A voice inside said: “well, that’s nothing”, or “that wasn’t you, it was your team that made it happen”, or “yeah, but you still don’t have a proper salary”. This is a familiar and a very unhelpful pattern. Basically, it’s the classical pattern of “it’s never good enough, you’re not good enough”. It’s a voice so many of us hear, and it is very apparent in our culture, UK and Sweden especially. Celebrating success, but especially celebrating ourselves, is seen as boasting or as making out that we’re better than someone else. Not always of course, graduation is an important moment in students lives for example, but overall it’s treated with suspicion. However, it’s not all about external celebration, in fact, it has nothing to do with that. It’s the internalised belief that you shouldn’t think you’re amazing. You’re only amazing when what you have achieved is culturally perceived as amazing. I am generalising of course… However, I have seen it so many times in both my university students and my yoga students, let alone in friends, that it almost feels endemic. So often I hear them say, “yes but it’s only a 2.1” or “yes, but I only stayed in the pose for a second”, diminishing what they have achieved. I do that too. My name is Katia, and I am a recovering not-good-enougher!


It seems to me, that there are two issues going on here. One, the belief that if you celebrate yourself, if you believe that you are enough, you’ll relax and won’t achieve anything more. If you’re happy and content, why would you pursue anything more? Well, when you’re happy and content, you want more of that feeling and you keep going for things that feel good. You will do more of what you love, not less.

And the second issue, a much more slippery one, is that if you celebrate yourself, people won’t like you. The belief here is that only other people are allowed to celebrate you, not you yourself. I can almost hear my British friends saying: “What’s wrong with that? You need to be humble, we love humble. Look at Emma Thompson, so successful and humble.” (By the way, I’m not denying the complete awesomeness of Emma Thompson here.) Well, my question is, are the two mutually exclusive? And what do we actually mean by humble? Kanye West is definitely not humble, we all know that, but do we really believe that telling ourselves that whatever we’ve done isn’t enough is humble? And being proud of our big and small achievements is bragging Kanye style? If Emma Thompson thought that what she’s done is never good enough, she wouldn’t be someone we’d look up to, mainly because she wouldn’t have gotten as far.

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Staying in the space of not-good-enoughness is crippling to our creativity and joy. Showing gratitude to ourselves, and giving ourselves a pat on the back, isn’t feeding our ego, it is supporting ourselves to thrive instead of waiting for everyone else to acknowledge you.

As Walt Whitman expressed so beautifully nearly 200 years ago:

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

Which brings me to my final point. Not celebrating yourself is dishonouring everyone who is rooting for you and who helped you get there. I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty, but to suggest that by showing yourself gratitude you’re also showing gratitude to everyone else who has supported you over the years. I reached Elite because I have an amazing team of women supporting me, and diminishing this success is diminishing their amazing work. Similarly, I got a yoga class because I’ve had amazing students and teachers showing me the way, I am the teacher that I am thanks to them. “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” Our lives are deeply connected, when I say thank you to myself, I say thank you to all and I allow for others to feel good about themselves.