How do you know that you are good enough?
In the beginning of this year I wrote a letter to my 10-year old self. One of the themes in this letter was the theme of ‘being enough’. For a long time, I have felt like what I did was never enough and that I was not enough. In my letter I told my younger self that she’s enough, just for being who she is. She does not have to do, be or have more in order to feel enough, to feel valued or to be loved.
Now, I know that this may sound a bit abstract and ‘easier said than done’. Especially, in a society that constantly suggests that there is never enough and there is always something more to acquire and achieve. So, I decided to share my thoughts around this theme in this article and provide some questions that can help you work through your ‘not good enough’ feelings.
How do we move past our ‘not good enough’ feeling?
Before we get in to the practical, I want to start off with two disclaimers:
Firstly, writing this article felt a bit contradictory. On the one hand the message is: you are good enough as you are. On the other hand, I am helping you define what ‘enough’ actually means. The question that may arise is: do we need a definition of enough? Or is that contradicting the message that ‘we are enough’?
Let’s put it this way: you don’t need a definition for enough, in order to feel, be or have enough. However, reflecting on the question what enough means to you can help you to deconstruct the social narrative in the moment that you feel this narrative is triggering your ‘not good enough’ feelings.
Secondly, I wanted to address the importance of taking time to understand the root causes of your not good enough feelings. There can by many factors, both internal and external, that contribute to these feelings. A lot can be traced back to our youth: the messages that we were both explicitly and implicitly told built up to our current narrative around what it means to ‘be good enough’, ‘Do enough’ and ‘Have enough’. However, as a coach, it is not my place to help you unpack those messages. What I can help you with is providing you ideas how to cope with the not good enough feelings in the present moment.
What is the definition of enough?
In coaching, we regularly spend time defining concepts. Often, we use words that come with a lot of underlying assumptions, feelings and connotations, without actually taking time to unpack what we are actually saying.
The phrase “I never feel like it is enough” is a great example of this. Despite the fact that we all can imagine what that feeling ‘feels’ like, we find it harder to make explicit what we actually mean with ‘being enough’. What does the word ‘enough’ even mean?
When you look up the definition of enough, the dictionary gives us the following: occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.
Nowhere in its definition is stated which demands, needs or expectations you are required to meet to ‘be, do or have enough’. This is good news, because it leaves room for you to create a personal definition of “enough”.
First questions to come to your personal definition of enough could be:
Enough of what?
Enough for what?
Enough for who?
What is your personal definition of enough?
We can often easily come up with a definition of enough from a societal and cultural perspective and from there recognize that not meeting those definitions of enough, is causing us to feel as if we are not good enough or don’t do enough.
However, when I would ask you what ‘enough’ means to you, it may become a little bit trickier.
In the definition of enough, there is no mention of which demands, needs or expectations you are required to meet to ‘be, do or have enough’. Which gives us the freedom to play around with the definition in a way that feels good for us and fill in these gaps ourselves.
Which demands do I want to meet?
Which needs do I want to fulfill?
Whose expectations do I want to meet?
The most obvious answer may be: my own demands, my own needs and my own expectation. And yes, in the first place you should live up to your own demands, needs and expectations. Start defining those. Just know that, as you list your own demands, needs and expectations it is inevitable that these definitions also include external demands, needs and expectations because after all, as individuals we do not live in a social vacuum. So, don’t judge yourself for that.
What does enough look and feel like?
Embracing the idea that you are good enough, as you are, does not have to exclude your need for growth and change. It does not mean that you should never desire or change to work towards a goal anymore. If anything, it means that you don’t have to let seeking that goal, imply that you are broken, weak or unlovable until you reached that goal.
Once you have clarity around what your personal definition of enough is, it can be hepful to make your definition of enough even more concrete.
How do you know when it is enough?
How do you know when you are enough?
What does enough look and feel like to you?
How do you know that you are good enough?
Start with embracing the idea that you are good enough just as you are and from there , you can look for ways to make it more explicit what that looks like in your life.
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Hi, I’m Lian Angelino, certified Career & Leadership coach who is passionate about helping women move through their career and daily life with more ease and meaning.
As a Career & Leadership coach, I combine my background in Work Psychology, (Mental)Health Sciences and Leadership development to help you get clear about what makes you tick and gain clarity around difficult career choices.
In this online space, I share work centered around embracing our full humanity in everything we do and the choices that we make in our daily lives.
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