The Art of Being
Deborah Chandler, Ph.D.
Good enough is a standard in psychology for evaluating our own self-worth. It was created in the 1950s by an English psychoanalyst, D.W. Winnicott. Winnicott used “good enough” to describes the mother whose responses to her baby were balanced between being smothering and aloof.
I find good-enough a useful standard for evaluating my own self-worth. Were my actions perfect? No, there’s usually room for improvement. Was I despicable? No! I did what I could at the time, and it’s usually good enough. That’s what I am: good enough.
Good enough is a response both to perfectionism and indifference. Perfectionism is a distortion derived from insecurity. Never being satisfied with what we do leaves us bereft of any joy. With perfectionism we chase a fantasy and always feel inadequate.
Icy aloofness also leaves us empty. Aloofness is a cynical disengagement. We stay remote and untouched by actions and reactions. This is not inner peace. This is inner deadness.
Good enough is a compassionate and accepting response to behavior. We avoid the traps of being restrictive and devaluing of our and other’s efforts. I love finding the ease of self-acceptance, knowing that I don’t have to prove myself.
When I am disappointed in my performance, I’m still good enough. I can learn and improve but I’m still just good enough me.
Good enough means I’m still coloring inside the lines. I don’t give into recklessness to prove how above it all I am. I respect the norms and find my freedom within. I don’t push against the guidelines. I’m more concerned with my own inner freedom, to let my expression come forth, not in rebellion, but in assertion of my inner energy.
Beig good enough allows me to define my boundaries without clinging. Good enough acknowledges the differences between us. From being grounded, I allow space for you to be you and respect your individuality. I enjoy our inner-play with sufficient perspective to keep you clearly in view, not blurred by us moving in too close.
Being good enough allows me to play in new arenas and try new areas of expression. This ease of engagement allows space for mistakes, learning new things, and enjoying the experimentation.
There’s always a flow being good enough me with good enough you. That’s the space for our mutual responsiveness and the joy in finding an easy attunement with each other.