The problem of not being good enough

18 May, 2020

The other day I was talking with a colleague whom I clinically supervise. Through our talking together she discovered that some of the difficulties she was facing were rooted in a sense that she feels inadequate. This conversation reminded me…

Somewhere down at the base of many of us is a fear: ‘I’m not good enough.’. And because things happen to us that hurt us as we journey through life, we take often these things and make them the explanation of why we’re not good enough.

‘I’m not good enough and I know this because my mum didn’t love me.’

‘I’m not good enough and I know because I couldn’t stop my dad from beating my mum.’

‘I’m not good enough and I know because my brain doesn’t think as fast as my brother’s does.’

This phenomenon is a cause of huge suffering. To make things worse, further suffering can be added to the load: We tend to look outside of ourselves for a way to escape the problem of inadequacy. Perhaps if I become a high achiever? Perhaps if I acquire material wealth? How about I cheat ageing? Maybe an expert can tell me what’s wrong and prescribe a cure?

Another repercussion is how we employ ways to manage the feelings that the prospect of being inadequate engenders in us. We’ve found every which way to not feel what it brings up; numbing through drinking and substance misuse, distracting ourselves by causing a kerfuffle, hurting ourselves. The list is endless.

And then again, we can also respond to our existential doubt by doing its bidding or by defending our egos from its charges. We do its bidding by acting small; not going for that promotion, not trying to master that skill, expecting and accepting poor treatment. We manage its assaults by defending our egos; working harder than anyone else, becoming arrogant and self-important, recruiting others to admire us and reassure us that we are wonderful.

What if it were radically different? What if it were just the human condition at play and in coming to trust ourselves, we could accept the good enough-ness of just how we actually are? Imagine needing to satisfy this possibility before we were allowed to reach for an external solution. Imagine if services really supported people with problems to investigate this first before trying to fix them. Imagine that.

Jen & Jael

A Gwent Partnership Board Service