Trying to Be Good Enough

Posted by Melissa Milne on

How this habit undermines your effort to feel better about yourself

I used to let others make me feel bad about myself. Family, partners, and even friends. It took me a very long time to even realize I was allowing my sense of self-worth to fluctuate based on how others treated me.

Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’ve finally learned the most important lesson of my life: That I don’t need to please others to be good enough. I don’t have to cake on makeup, or have chiseled muscles or get another college degree or make a certain amount of money to be good enough. And you don’t either. No one does.

This is a fairly common realization and gets a lot of airplay when we talk about self-confidence, abuse recovery, and empowerment. The realization alone can help you wake up, but it most likely will not change your life for the better, until you focus on fixing whatever it is that makes you feel the need to please others in the first place.

As long as you’re trying to be “good enough” you won’t be focused on yourself. You’ll be focused on an idea that doesn’t even exist. Your attention will be elsewhere, and in the meantime you’re not celebrating, cultivating, or expanding who you are right here, right now. Many of us focus on trying to measure up to others because our sense of self has been damaged or diminished previously. The act of trying to please others can be an effort to fill the void within, but it really just sets you up for a continued loss of self-esteem. If you base your worth on the unpredictable and uncontrollable behavior of others, then you’re in for a roller coaster ride…which undermines your self-worth even more.

At some point, this way of being is going to catch up with you. If you spend a considerable amount of time focused on becoming some way for others, instead of on your own growth for your own sake, you may find that you:

  • Have drastic ups and downs in your life
  • Have trouble finding a fulfilling job you can stick with
  • Get into dramatic or unhealthy relationships
  • Fall into addictive or compulsive habits
  • Allow others to treat you badly
  • Get hung up on the past
  • Have trouble changing your life for the better, in a way that sticks

Searching for the elusive concept of what it is to be good enough will leave you in an amorphous shape that others have a hard time interpreting. You won’t be able to communicate your needs with clarity and confidence, because you’ll be waiting for clues from others to inform you how to act and what you say. You will also lack a clear understanding of who you are, which is where the ups and downs and unproductive habits come into play. When we seek OUTSIDE instead of WITHIN, we’re more likely to change our shape to fit the shape of others, which means we are at the whim of whomever we come into contact with.

The way to get control of your life is to focus on who you are and how you can live from a place of YOUR truth, not someone else’s. We live in a culture that trains us to want to be like the prettiest, most muscular, richest, most seemingly together people that are presented to us in the media. It’s a constant reaching out into the darkness, thinking we know what we’re reaching for, only to find out that what we really don’t know, is who we are.


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