Enough. The dictionary defines it as “to the required degree, or extent”. What is the required degree though? The synonyms are varied, and mean different things, not the same thing, and synonyms are meant to mean the same thing. In what world is sufficient or adequate, the same as ample or abundant? It’s no wonder ‘enough’ is the word that tortures us with a belief of lack of enoughness, when we can’t agree on what ‘enough’ actually is.
The feeling of not being enough – good enough, talented enough, thin enough, pretty enough – drives us to strive harder to be those things. Which, in turn, causes us to believe we’re not doing enough in trying to achieve those endeavours.
My grandad always used to say to me, you can’t do better than your best. But what if you’re not doing enough to get to your best?
What if your best isn’t enough? Enough is the boulder upon which we will always stumble and fall.
Is it enough to just get through the day? Sometimes. When we’re struggling with depression, or suicidal thoughts and ideation, getting through the day is absolutely enough. At those times, getting through the day is a huge achievement.
Is it enough to choose ‘done’ over ‘perfect’? Definitely. Enough can be the excuse not to be excellent, but the pursuit of perfection is a fool’s errand, and leads to burnout and to self-criticism that destroys the soul.
Is it enough to just exist? Abso-f-ing-lutely!
I am enough. No definition of what enough might be is needed to sully its purity. The philosopher Descartes defined the proof of our existence as, “I think, therefore I am.” For me, the philosophy of living can be summed as “I am breathing, therefore I am enough.”
It’s my belief that our feeling of not-enoughness is at the root of the majority of our struggles. Needing to have enough food to feel full, money to feel secure, attention to feel loved – if we feel that we aren’t enough as we are, then no matter how much food we have, money we have, or attention we have, we won’t ever be happy. It’s why many of the rich and famous feel that they aren’t rich enough or famous enough. Because, by themselves, they don’t believe they are enough.
When it comes to recovery from trauma, the issue with not believing that we are enough is because when we don’t believe we are enough, we feel worthless, we feel that we don’t deserve recovery.
If you were to believe that you were enough would you not also believe that you do deserve to live a full and whole reconnected life?
You are enough. We are enough.
After trauma, ‘enough’ is a stick we become very adept at beating ourselves with. I didn’t take enough care of myself; it must’ve been my fault, I deserved it, I deserve this suffering now. Or, I wasn’t a good enough person; it must’ve been my fault, I deserved it, I deserve this suffering now. Or, when we’re in a state of hypervigilance; I don’t feel safe enough, I will never feel safe enough, I can never see a state when I will feel safe enough, I will never be recovered.
It is for all these reasons that I always introduce to my clients the mantra “I am enough.” It is simple, and effective. No, the repetition of a positive affirmation is not the magic bullet to recovery. But, opening up the mind to the possibility that we can believe we are enough is a very good place to start. You are enough.