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.
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:
- Share your success with others. And, be certain to carefully select the ones who can actively respond with a constructive comment.
- 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.