Being good enough
When you read the title, what comes to mind? Low self-esteem? Not meeting expectations of others and then berating yourself for it? Feeling ‘less than’ others and noticing the feeling of trying to be ‘better than’ others as a way of soothing those self-deprecating voices?
The festive period has started, whether we like it or not. Adverts, plans for festivities – perhaps even a party invite being received. Perhaps you dream that this year if you can only just find those perfect presents, get those perfect decorations for the tree, plan the perfect meal for family or friends… maybe then you will just feel good enough. Perhaps some of those feelings of loneliness, feeling less than, not loving where your life has been heading, the daily anxiety and feelings of depression, and all those inner critic voices will be silenced. If only you can just do something perfectly.
But I wonder… what happens if this year you work with what if?
- What if you are good enough as you are?
- What if good enough wasn’t such a bad thing?
- What if enough was good? Not perfect, but by no means inadequate.
- What if you put in good enough boundaries this year so that you took care of your own mental and emotional well-being as well as others?
- What if good enough allowed you to release the pressure of perfection, possibly releasing tension, pain in the body and stress on the bank account?
Therapists often see referrals soar after Christmas. Spending time with family and friends in the culture of perfection, unhealthy relational dynamics, alcohol-fuelled engagements and general lack of structure all contribute to dark feelings arising at this time. Not to mention the physical darkness of the sky, the crashing down of dreams, and the illusion that can no longer be held up. Reality sets in that your inner world still feels dark and scary and hasn’t got any better this year.
Perhaps for some, these dreams continue through to New Year, and hope is pinned on the dreams of resolutions to be a different body shape, to be happier, to be less angry.
What if good enough allowed you to take a new path?
A path that directed your precious energy and time on this planet into going inwards, to the self, to reflect, listen, witness and soothe the parts that feel like they’re not good enough. To invest in yourself and build the core of yourself, a part of you that you will always carry with you, rather than investing in the illusion of a perfect something which is a temporary choice.
10 ways to practise being good enough
- Have a daily mantra – repeat it to yourself in the mirror; ‘I am good enough’.
- Find something beautiful about yourself every morning, something about your character, and remind yourself of your gift to the world.
- Connect with people whose vibe helps you to feel supported and of value.
- Bring attention to the voices that tell you you’re not good enough. Listen and show them compassion, but don’t swallow down their words whole.
- Don’t spend hour upon hour searching for the perfect anything – present, dress, decorations – keep the ‘good enough’ mantra with you.
- Do spend hours and hours finding playfulness in everyday life.
- Reach out to someone vulnerable in your community and offer something unconditional; it could be as simple as a smile and a cuppa.
- Draw, sculpt, dance, paint, and visualise – get creative and find a way to express what good enough means for you. If you create something on paper, stick it on your fridge as a reminder.
- When you notice anxiety rise, telling you to be better, to be perfect, remind yourself that you are good enough. Place your hand on your tummy and say gentle words to the anxiety.
- Commit to connecting with the warnings from the anxiety – what needs attention in your life that you are not happy with underneath the ‘external’ – and perhaps commit to some therapy to explore what can be attended to in your inner world.
When we embrace being good enough, not only in the eyes of others but in our own eyes, we can move beyond the never-ending search for that thing that will help us to feel OK, and actually feel OK.
To me, OK is good enough!
This article was originally written for the counselling directory which can be found here.