The “Good Enough” Mirage

The “Good Enough” Mirage

Whether you had parents who pushed you or not, if parental approval was the grand prize for good behavior or success in your home growing up, you might be headed down the high pressure path in the way you manage yourself.

Do you alternate between pushing yourself so hard you just want to scream and wishing you could stop the world and get off? This might explain why.

A friend was talking to me the other day about feeling overwhelmed. She’s been a superwoman in everything she’s taken on, but no matter what she does, she feels like it isn’t good enough. It played out in jobs, raising kids, everywhere to the point that she could see it was coming from the belief that she was not good enough. Sound familiar?

I said one thing that brought a laugh:

“So how would you know if you were?”

Notice how you react when you identify a belief like “I’m not good enough” and SAY WHAT YOU SEE to yourself starting with “you” like this:

SAY WHAT YOU SEE: “You think you’re not good enough.”

Do you nod, grimace, cry, agree out loud as in, “Yes. I’m never good enough,” and start to immediately recall all that proof you’ve been gathering? If so, it’s time to look at what’s behind your thinking.

When I notice I have been collecting proof of something, I have to ask:

“Why do I need proof?”

The thing is, that if you believe something, it’s just so. No proof needed. As a matter of fact, when you really believe something, you don’t even call it a belief: green is green, one is bigger than two, gravity pulls things down, etc. You don’t believe these thing, they are just true.

In a way, use of the word “believe” tells you that you don’t.

You also don’t go around collecting proof like,” Yep. Another rock rolled down not up. Gravity is real!”

So if you find yourself gathering proof, you are dealing with a belief that is not your real truth. The part of you that’s gathering proof is the part that is still in touch with who you really are. Nice to know!

When you know that, the next question is obvious:

Why? Why do I need to believe ______ about myself? How does that work for me?

In the case of “I’m not good enough” my friend already knew. She was sure if she weren’t pushed by the need to be good enough she would end up doing nothing at all. That’s a valuable insight, as long as you don’t believe it’s actually the truth. If you do, you would do what high pressure parents do to themselves and their children—criticize, push, coerce, punish, force, because if you (and them) finally did all that you think you should, surely then you would be good enough…right?

Really? Here we are back to my first question to my friend along with a few others to further your inquiry:

How would you know? Exactly what does good enough look like? Is it measurable? Who sets the standards?

Coming from an awakened im-perfectionist point of view, I can tell you: you do. You set the standards, but you’re sure they are “real;” like they are already out there, and you have to meet them. (Sounds a little like that floating parental approval to me. You know it’s out there somewhere, if you could just figure out what they want and make yourself want it, too.)

But even after you realize it’s you who sets the standard, it may still act like a mirage—whenever you arrive it moves. It has to because, if you ever reached it, you’re sure you would have no more drive. 

Are you getting how this works? It’s almost funny when you get it. And when you do, just SAY WHAT YOU SEE yourself thinking some more and one day, poof! You’ll break through and be amazed at what you find on the other side.

Believe it or not, once you realize you are the one who’s been setting the standard for what is “enough” in a way that keeps you from ever reaching it, you will be able to stop and create a life that’s fulfilling for you and pleasant for those around you.

Imagine being able to rest easily in the awareness that you are always enough, no matter what you do or don’t do. How about being able to ask for help when you want it, not just when you are well past needing it and annoyed at everyone around you? Bye-bye overwhelm; hello help and cooperation.


Do you ever feel like my friend or me, stuck in a world that demands too much, or even perfection? If you’d like help on your journey to “good enough” or wherever your path is leading you, that’s what Eva and I do, via phone, video calls, or in person! 

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