When Good Enough is Enough

The concept of good enough comes from the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, John Bowlby’s theory about “good enough parenting”.  The premise is that children can and do thrive with parental substitutes (relatives, adoptive parents, etc) and that this mothering is good enough even when the child was deprived of a connection with his birth mother.

As I thought about this theory, I couldn’t help but wonder how we strive for perfection and don’t accept when good enough is enough. Most of us have been programmed for perfection.

We are taught early to avoid what is considered failure at all cost. In our schools, we learn a to strive for an ‘A” or a perfect score and anything less is considered a failure. What about those students who get a “C”, have they failed?  Of course not. Their “C” is good enough for them and probably the best they can do at that time.   We all won’t be “A” students.

The underlying message that “you” aren’t good enough is what’s internalized and it becomes part of the program we use to run our lives fraught with doubt, fear, and low self esteem.

Good enough is good enough for manufacturers who release products with known flaws in the hopes that the successful operation by many will outweigh the failures of a few. Suppose these manufacturers would have waited until they had the perfect product before putting it on the market?  I suspect they felt good enough is enough. And, they also knew they could re-release, revise, update or change the original design.  Nothing is cast in stone.

Mary Poppins was right when she said, “enough is as good as a feast”.

Just imagine a table filled with the finest meats, vegetables, and desserts where you could have as much as you wanted. You eat until you were full.  Would you continue eating until you got sick or would your stomach signal you’ve had enough?

Sometimes, you just have to respond to the signal that good enough is enough and let go of self-limiting expectations.

A friend of mine often told me, “I have to clean my house” when I invited her to join me in what could have been an enjoyable, fun experience. It’s nice to have your surrounding neat and clean but at some point, good enough ought to be enough. Besides, your guests could care less if there are dust bunnies under the bed or a cobweb or two hanging out in the corner of your ceiling.  What’s more important is that you get to spend quality time with the people you care about.

The notion of perfection is a limiting belief about your work or output that anything less than perfect is unacceptable.

Unless you are a heart surgeon, your good enough is enough!

Gladys Anderson – Life Coach, Therapist, Author


Certified Life Coach, Family therapist and Group Coaching Specialist, Gladys M. Anderson, helps nurses, teachers, social workers, therapists and other care-giving women to set limits so they have more time, more joy and more energy for self-care. To get tips, start living out loud with more enthusiasm, energy, passion, and self-confidence now, get your FREE copy of Building Strong Boundaries to Create More Breathing Space in Your Hectic Life

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