The Power of Celebration in Relationship

Frequently my kids tease me for an “overuse” of the word “fun”. However, the truth is that I have practiced seeing the good and finding cause to celebrate.

There is a lot of science behind the benefits of celebration - both for brain chemistry science and psychological benefits. This is a great little article on the benefits of celebration (click the picture to bring you to the article): 

Sadly, many people find it really hard to celebrate their own successes. They are either quickly on to the next goal or challenge or feel like celebration for themselves is awkward or lacks humility.

There are some unfortunate cultural norms that push back against us enjoying and admitting our strengths and successes. I’m not recommending embellishing or bragging here, just pausing to acknowledge and enjoy!

Those of us blessed enough to be in a loving partnership have a huge resource. We have a safe place where we can practice both celebrating and being celebrated! This is huge! With your partner you can be yourself - that means you can be loved for who you are - shortcomings, yes, but also loved and celebrated for things you are happy about!

Celebration does not have to be a big thing. Sometimes big is appropriate but it can be as simple as acknowledging out loud to someone who cares how you are feeling about something.

Since the benefits are extensive and sometimes it can be tricky to celebrate in other places or relationships this is a gift we can truly give each other. Here are 3 habits or practices you may want to incorporate in to your partnership:

1. Establish a weekly time when you check in with each other and ask “What has happened this week that you are happy with yourself for?” OR “What can we celebrate about you right now?”

2. Notice and comment when you see something positive in your partner. E.g. “I saw how you pushed through getting that project done even though it would have been so tempting to quit!”, etc. Noticing things that we may find easy but our partner may not is a blind spot many of us have. View your partner’s actions from who they are! What may be easy for you may be a huge accomplishment for them.

3. Get comfortable asking your partner to celebrate something with you. E.g. “Honey, I’m really happy with myself for something and I’d love to tell you about it.”

What is the language of celebration?

What we are giving our partner is a chance to internalize the celebration. By celebrating with each other we give each other the chance to learn to celebrate ourself! Here are some tools for that:

1. Reflecting back to the other person what you see in them is powerful. “You were way outside of your comfort zone but you spoke up anyway in that meeting, amazing!”

2. Acknowledging accomplishments is helpful. “You set that goal for yourself 2 months ago and you did it. You pushed through all kinds of barriers and you did it!”

3. Questions are key. They help our partner to pause and acknowledge themselves. “What are you most proud of yourself for in this whole situation?” OR “What helped you actually keep going on this project when it would have been easy to quit?”.

Note: A trap we sometimes fall in to is unintentionally making it about us. “I’m proud of you” can be wonderful to hear but the even bigger gift to give our partner is psychological permission for them to be proud of themselves in our company - without shame and with us celebrating them too!

So, what can you celebrate with your partner today? What positive feedback would be encouraging for them to hear and to reflect on?

Until next time, have fun celebrating!

Marilyn.

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