I’ve heard people of all ages say they are not good enough. I hear this concept in two ways; “I am not good enough at (something)” and “I am not good enough” as a person. These are debilitating, dis-empowering statement housed in a belief based on a false premise. The false premise is of having to be compared to or compete with someone/something else. It brings about a conclusion based on impossible measurement. It is a belief that is learned, and on some level, accepted. It fosters the idea of “better than/less than” and is often a strategy used in marketing to convince me that use of a product or service, or, having a certain appearance or status would “make me good enough, too.” It perpetuates a myth that I have to be (something) enough to be content.
The problem with comparing ourselves, our skills, our intelligence, or even our compassion to another is that the comparison is measured by a standard that can’t be met. It can’t be met because my skills, intelligence, and even compassion were born of my own unique life experiences. How could they possibly be measured against yours? And, if they are, who then is qualified to decide what standard is to be met? Who gets to set the bar? Am I to accept that you get to set the bar as to whether I am good enough? And, if I do accept that, who’s to say that one day when I am good enough, that the bar won’t be changed so that tomorrow I am not good enough again.
The only empowering guideline for how I determine what is good enough is the one within me. And, it is only dependent on evaluations of my own internal conditions. Now, the term “good enough” implies a means of identifying personal growth or personal progress. The only time a comparison to a source external to me is beneficial is when it is used as a teaching tool to improve in my own development, but not to be held to that standard. For example, if I want to be a professional singer, and compare myself to those who are judged as “better than me,” I am in a place of false comparison. But, if I listen to other singers I find inspiring with qualities I’d like to embrace, I can use them as a reference to help me improve.
There is another layer to this internal measuring gauge. There is, at some point, in every endeavor a place of satisfaction reached within that endeavor. I get to say when I’m satisfied or not, and if I’m not, then I can choose what steps to take to improve it. If I feel I’m not yet a good enough singer to be a professional, would I like to take lessons or practice more? And, there may be a need to amend the standard I’ve created for myself. The ‘perfectionist” may need some room to breathe, and find a new standard that holds more compassion. I can come up with a plan as to how I will access the necessary resources, engage in learning and practicing exercises, and apply the desired effort to achieve the desired outcome. Moreover, I find I need two more ingredients to sustain the environment for development. It is beneficial to have support and discipline as well as compassion for the opportunity to experiment, to try and fail, and try again. These three ingredients can lead to that internal level of satisfaction.
Having compassion during any phase of personal growth and development is an important facet for the standards I create for myself. If I embark on a new skill or talent, with little or no experience the expectations have to have room for a “learning curve” with compassion so that I am not defeating myself through the process. It can be uncomfortable not knowing how to do something I want to do, and I can easily get frustrated. Yet, how can I expect myself to know how to do something I’ve not yet learned? It is an unfair internal standard that can be soothed with self-love and returning to the pleasure of the endeavor to begin with. I’ve decided to learn this skill, so I get to determine the pace, the richness, and the depth until I’m satisfied that it is “good enough” to me. This comes with the understanding that every endeavor is a process and can be on-going in its development. There is often, for me, a feeling of “but I could do more” to make it even better. Knowing this about myself helps me recognize that when I get to a place of satisfaction, it is only by comparison to where I began, or how far I’ve progressed. And, in that measure, the satisfaction can be tremendous. Keeping that satisfaction linked to my internal determination is the only way I get to rejoice in my own advances in a skill or talent. Just like the person who could only walk to the corner and back, and then works up to walking all the way around the block gets to rejoice in the great progress of that. No external comparison could allow for such joy. If that person then compares themselves to a highly trained athlete, the joy of their own progress is squashed.
Asking the question “What is good enough?” brought up a new question of whether I would view being good enough differently in any way if I felt as though I “have” enough – enough supply, enough love, enough companionship, enough health, enough money. Would my evaluation change if I were to begin with that premise? This takes me to a whole other aspect of whether having enough makes me good enough. And, in that way, would my inner compass become focused on these more spiritual qualities instead of personal development to set the standards to achieve?
A feeling of not being “good enough at something” can often be a reflection of not feeling good enough as a person. The same internal means to evaluate is the only fair approach. If I want to bring in more spiritual aspects for a greater quality of life, I can choose if I’ve met a standard for myself, or, if I would like to keep studying, learning, and applying myself. But, again, I am the only one who would truly know my own growth. I would know if I’ve come to a greater understanding of myself, of life, of how I want to behave, and how I want to treat others. In this understanding I can come to a place where I no longer even raise the question of whether I am good enough as defined through my endeavors and interactions. But rather, I would recognize I am good, and drop the word enough from that measurement. And, ultimately, there will no longer be a need for measurement at all, where I can drop the word good and simply rest in the wisdom of I Am.