On Being Good Enough

I’m leery of motivational language. So often it’s slogany and I feel sold to.

At the same time, I find myself drawn to the intensity and self-assuredness of motivational speaker-types.

And every now and then one of them says something that I think is particularly eye-opening.

Danielle LaPorte published a blog post entitled “Why Self-improvement Makes you Neurotic,” in which she suggests that the actions that we do for the purpose of self-improvement are all valid, positive actions, but we often do them for disempowering reasons. When we engage in self-improvement activities, we generally do so from an assumption of brokenness in ourselves that needs to be fixed. LaPorte suggests that, instead of looking at ourselves as needing tinkered with to make us better (or even acceptable), we look at ourselves as good enough as we are. We’re doing these things not to improve ourselves but to “access our power.” [note: The links in the quote below are from Danielle LaPorte to other posts by her on her blog]

You show up at your therapist’s office to access your power.
You go to church to access your power.
You put on your heels, or your power suit, or your lucky charm to access your power.
You call your friend for advice to access your power.
You pray, dance, let go, breath [sic], unplug, run, bend, drink smoothiesgo on retreat, clear the air, ask for help, get enough sleep, get up early, train, set goals, affirm, chant, rock out, climb, hike, sweat to…

access your power.

I read this and thought, “Wow.”

This is an idea I like and that I try to keep in mind, but all too easily I fall back into the old patterns of mental self-flagellation.

Where do so many of us get that idea that we’re fundamentally flawed and that the only way we can improve ourselves is by beating ourselves up?

I hope to internalize the idea that there is already enough good inside me and that the resolutions I make for myself are simply for the purpose of clearing a path to that awesomeness through the things that obscure it. If this is true, then the reason to work towards meeting my resolutions is because I’m worth the effort, not because I totally suck and need to do these things as penance for my suckitude.

Even as I write this, I’m doubting my worthiness for such an endeavor. I’m thinking, “If I can’t do this for myself, maybe I can at least do it for my kids so they can learn to be self-assured.”

While acting for my children’s wellbeing is a worthy pursuit, in this case I suspect that it’s yet another way of saying, “I’m not good enough, but my kids are. So I have a responsibility to act like I’m good enough as an example to them.”

I want more than that. I like doing things for my kids, but I think accepting myself as good enough simply for them is beyond my abilities. I need to do this one for myself, or I’m not teaching them the lesson I hope that they’ll learn.

When you’re feeling “not good enough,” what do you do to help remind you of your inherent self-worth? If you never have times when you feel “not good enough,” how on earth do you manage that feat?

8 comments

  1. Jenny · April 13, 2011

    Every once in awhile you hear something that makes such total sense that you can’t believe you needed someone to say it aloud. I’m pretty sure that any time I engage in some kind of “self-help” activity, I start with an assumption that I’m “fixing” myself. I just didn’t think of it that way until right now. I like the idea of thinking of it differently.

    Thanks once again for telling me something about myself that I should’ve figured out a long time ago. It occurs to me that you are accessing all KINDS of power by writing this blog.

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  2. Susan · April 11, 2011

    This is such a thoughtful post, and I’m afraid I don’t really have a response that’s worthy of it. I have been feeling this way a lot lately, and I have some ideas of what’s causing it. I feel like I’m not living up to my potential — but I don’t even think I can define what my potential is! And if I can’t define it, then how can I live up to it (or know when I’m not living up to it).

    Very good post. Will be thinking about this for awhile.

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  3. Pingback: Week 36 Review: Connecting with Strangers and Selling my Husband’s Stuff « Imperfect Happiness
  4. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ · April 9, 2011

    Thank you for this post. This is exactly what I’ve been exploring through my meditations and writing, too. Thinking I wasn’t good enough helped contribute to my PPD going to the seriously dark (and never returning) side. And glomming on to self improvement wasn’t solving that. Everyone has got a different key to access it and language to understand it and I love that. It comes down to making a choice to accept it all, love it, and shift from there-not self-improve. Accessing your power, finding your core, radically accepting, etc…

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  5. Lisa Sylvester · April 9, 2011

    When I’m feeling like that, first I take some fish oil and vitamin D, and then I organize some closets or some other chaos. Or, I do some hard work (usually physical). I think this is because I grew up in a family where working hard was a very important value. Strong work ethic and all that. My family is of German descent, all farmers.

    Accessing your power. I like that a lot. That’s what I’m doing with the organizing and the work.

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    • CJ · April 9, 2011

      I find myself decluttering, too. Hard work is something I hadn’t considered, but I do like the feeling of tiredness that comes with physical labor. I can see how it would sort of chase the negative thoughts out of there (and have the added benefit of getting something useful done).

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  6. Lea · April 9, 2011

    I eat a reasonably healthy salad from McDonald’s instead of a cheeseburger lol. And I think you’re a great person as you are, any self-help you do is really for yourself. I bet lots of people (except you :P) think you’re fine the way you are.

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    • CJ · April 9, 2011

      Thanks, Lea! Thinking I’m not good enough has become so much a habit for me, I hardly realize I’m doing it anymore. Which I guess is probably the biggest problem…if I notice when I’m doing it, I might be able to change the habit (so I can make myself better).

      Like

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