Why you find it hard to celebrate success

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 00:00 |
Celebrating success.

Do you sit in your achievements long enough to enjoy them or you hardly see these feats as big deal and so you quickly often move on to the next goal? Are you obsessed with achieving stuff, mostly to make others happy? You could be suffering from conditions of worth.

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

Salim Moyo, 28, graduated from Technical University of Mombasa in 2014. Unlike other graduates, it was no big deal for him and his family and close friends only came to know about it after they saw some photos on his phone.

He did not want people to think he was making a big deal over a little milestone as that. 

“As a child and from primary levels, my father would set a reward for every time I came first in class or got certain marks and my mother would be excited and proud of my grades. 

I lived to do it mostly for them. Growing up and years later, I realise I don’t have much attachment with my achievements,” Salim recalls. 

Salim is a script writer and some of his works have featured in popular TV series and movies.

“That people love my work is an approval to me that I have good ideas. I immediately start thinking of a next best idea that people would love.

Any achievement for me is just normal growth and the target rises for the next feat to be attained,” he says.

Still a Mum founder and blogger, Wanjiru Kihusa, in a Twitter discussion says she struggles celebrating her success.

Her therapist once told her (Wanjiru) that she doesn’t sit in her successes long enough.

“My therapist said I brush through my successes when I talk about them, then quickly move on to achieve the next thing.

This, she said, is called conditions of worth,” Wanjiru says. She describes conditions of worth as the conditions we think we must meet in order for other people to accept us as worthy of their love or positive regard.

“As children, we learn there are certain things we do that please our parents or caregivers, and we strive to do them.

As we grow up, we learn what our teachers, friends, and society in general seem to expect from us.

Eventually, we internalise these conditions imposed upon us, and live our life according to them,” she explains. 

Acquired condition

According to family therapist and trauma expert, Raymond Mwaura, conditions of worth are circumstances when “self-experience is avoided (or sought) solely because it is less (or more) worthy of self-regard”. 

A condition of worth is acquired when the conditional regard of a person in authority has been assimilated into one’s own self-regard complex. 

Conditions of worth is a theory by Carl Rogers, the founder of a style of counselling called Person-Centred Counselling.

Rogers recognised that external factors could affect how we value, or measure, our self-worth based on our ability to meet certain conditions we believe are essential.

“From birth, an infant learns to need love and develops a gestalt as to how it is regarded.

Each new experience of love or rejection changes the whole gestalt, such that disapproval of a specific behaviour is perceived as disapproval in general.

Thus, an infant begins to adjust behaviour not as a result of that which maintains or enhances their organism, but by the likelihood of receiving positive regard or love from their caregiver,” Mwaura explains. 

Throughout development and into adulthood, conditions of worth become more complex and form the basis of an individual’s overall way of seeing the world.

“Eventually, regarding oneself positively (as having worth) relies upon living in accordance with experienced conditions of worth,” he shares.

Way forward

Sometimes, a person’s conditions of worth can propel them to great success. But because conditions of worth arise from other peoples’ dreams and expectations and not our own, they do not always align well with our natural talents, interests and abilities.

As a result, one is likely they lead a life of unhappiness and a lack of fulfilment.

“If I am told by my parents that in order to be ‘successful’, I need to have a white-collar job, say a doctor, a four-bedroomed house, a car and get married, I might come to accomplish this, though deep within myself, I don’t want these things. My heart may be inclined to something else such as music,” he says.

The expert adds that it is important for parents to create an environment where children are able to grow, develop and thrive in unconditional positive regards where feedback and responses to children’s behaviours and personalities are genuine and congruent.

“Children need to be accepted for who they are and their worth esteemed as their being, approved for their actions and behavioural tendencies as per their age and trained per their potentials and gifting.

They should also be affirmed for the life progress and milestones where they should be allowed to make mistakes and achievement as per their level of potential.

Lastly, they should be given affections without being discriminated as rejection may strike them when young and this may harm their self-worth forever,” he says. 

Mwaura encourages adults who have conditions of worth to evaluate their measure of Blessing, Achievement and Goals (BCG) and consider dealing with their unfinished businesses with those who dominate their lives as a standard of measure.

“Change your mental standard of success by learning to live in the moment,” he concludes.

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