The Operating Manual for the Self tm

Changing Not Good Enough to Enough

Most adults and all children and adolescents have thoughts and feelings that say, “I am not good enough.” This thought can create feelings of inadequacy, shame, anxiety, depression and failure. It can also motivate us to strive for “more”, but this particular striving lacks the self-confidence necessary to accomplish satisfying success.

A child asks the question, “Am I having, doing, and being enough to fulfill my needs?” (The needs for survival, safety and security, belonging and loving, and self-esteem.) If the answer is no, anxiety emerges and motivation increases to have, do, and be more. As a child the question of having, doing and being enough gets simplified into “am I good enough?” “Good” is a child’s word and the answer to this question is almost always “no”.

“Enough” is a line; on one side of the line is not enough and on the other side is enough. Beyond enough is more, a lot, or a tremendous amount. Enough refers to quantity, though many things that we think about are not easily quantified. We therefore rely on a feeling or impression to determine “enough” in these situations.

An important question for us to ask is, “In this particular situation, am I doing and having enough to fulfill my needs and satisfy desires?”

  • Is this job satisfying enough for me to continue to do it?
  • Is this tennis game challenging enough for me to continue to play?
  • Did I get enough sleep for me to feel refreshed when I wake up?
  • Is this marriage satisfying enough of my desires and needs to continue with it?
  • Is this food tasty and nourishing enough for me to continue eating it?

We can see that these questions regarding situations in our life are very useful. “Am I good enough?” is a child’s question and serves no useful purpose for to ask ourselves as adults as it is confusing and ultimately destructive.

Point Of Empowerment: Enough is a line that separates not enough from enough.

Practice: Learn how to use the question, “Is this enough” as a tool for guidance in your life.

At the same time, we want to feel “I am enough.” “Am I enough?” is a question about our “being”; about who I am as a person. Thinking and feeling “I am not good enough” can haunt a person just below his or her everyday awareness, or can be quite conscious and troubling and can be an extremely painful feeling. Knowing that “I am enough” gives us the feeling that “I and life are ok”; “that everything is right in the universe.” We then have a foundation that empowers us to create the success and fulfillment we seek.

Point of Empowerment: Feeling “enough” gives us the courage to pursue fulfillment of our higher needs: of belonging and loving, for self-esteem, to create, produce, and know, and for self-actualization.

Practice: Identify feelings of “not being good enough;” understand the origin of these feelings in childhood; and decide that you are enough. Ultimately, being enough is a decision.