Why We Need Support When Things Go Right!

Have you ever had the experience of doing particularly well with something you’ve put your heart and soul into, only to have it dismissed when you share your success with someone else? It’s a shitty feeling that not only takes away joy from the positive event, but over time erodes the intimacy within the relationship too.

While many people feel it’s important to be there for us when things go wrong, research shows some compelling data that it might be more important for them to be there when things go right.

According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “Will you be there for me when things go right? Supportive Responses to Positive Events Disclosure,” by Shelly Gable, Amy Strachman, and Gian Gonzaga, the longevity and wellbeing of relationships are profoundly influenced by people’s ability to acknowledge and celebrate each other’s successes – perhaps even more so than their ability to be a shoulder in times of need.

Interesting, right?

The idea is that when you respond to someone’s success in a positive and constructive way, you amplify their strengths – the things that led them to the happy event – as opposed to focusing on weaknesses, which often happens (intentionally or otherwise) when you respond to things going wrong.

The ability to feel safe enough within our relationships to openly share positive experiences is hugely important. Being able to do that with someone who is capable of responding positively in return highly correlates with the wellbeing, intimacy and the long-term success of the relationship.

Barbara Frederickson’s Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions suggests that unlike negative feelings, our positive emotions expand our cognitive and behavioral options when it comes to times of stress and strain. Because our positive emotions amplify physical, intellectual and social resources while increasing flexibility and creativity, they also escalate our resilience – a necessary coping mechanism for when things don’t go right.

So, when we realize how important positive emotions are for us as individuals, it makes sense that sharing our successes with our friends, family and partners would be beneficial for those relationships as well.

Although people tend to stress that it’s important for loved ones to show up for the breakdowns and disasters it turns out, in the grand scheme, it’s vital for them to be supportive when things go right too.

This week I want you to focus on two things:

  1. Share your success with others. And, be certain to carefully select the ones who can actively respond with a constructive comment.
  2. Encourage other to share their success with you. When they do, actively pinpoint their strengths and acknowledge them for their progress and accomplishment.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that being a good friend means being there for someone when things go wrong. However, science shows us that celebrating accomplishments is a motivating and essential component to cultivating a successful and healthy life.

I encourage you to be there for others when things go right.

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  Feel free to share a success or a reflection on the topic.

In the meanwhile, I send you my love.

XO,

Jenn

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2 Comments

  • Elizabeth Bechard

    Jenn, this post spoke directly to my heart. Sharing successes with friends has always required courage for me, and it’s only recently that I’ve realized how much of the friendships of my 20s were centered around being there for each other when things went wrong. It takes effort and commitment to shift the dynamics in close relationships when things are going well more often than they’re not! I think it’s also powerful to reflect on whether or not we fully show up for ourselves when things go right. This, too, is hard for me – I’m pretty good at being present with myself when I’m going through something hard, but pausing to celebrate what’s going right is an ongoing practice. Thanks for this beautiful reminder of how important it is.

    • jenn

      Elizabeth, Thank you for this comment. We live in a culture that obsessed with focusing on what’s wrong, so it’s only natural that this is where we repetitiously go. But, the scientific research coming out of positive psychology indicates how important it is savor positive experiences as well, celebrate what is working, and lead with our strengths. There is so much evidence now supporting that this is radically enhances well being! Congratulations to you for making it a practice to stop and look at what’s going right. In the long run this will enhance both your health and your success. Sending you love, Jenn

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