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Are you (fill in the blank) enough?

November 19, 2015
Patrick Ward , MOV Parent

Good, safe, perfect, beautiful, smart, athletic, successful, funny, happy, wealthy These are just a few of the words that we fill in the blank to the question "am I ------- enough?" Where does this question come from? Why do we ask this question of ourselves so much? It comes from a mindset that there is a limited supply of what we ultimately need in order to feel happy and fulfilled in life. This is what Brene Brown, author of "The Gifts of Imperfection" and speaker in one of the most viewed TED talks, calls the "scarcity mindset": the fear that there is not enough of what we need in life. When we buy into this mindset, we are setting ourselves up for distress and discontent. We center our lives around trying to make sure we get enough. The problem is we are so focused on this that we often don't realize when we actually have enough.

What drives us in this scarcity mentality is the fear that we will be alone and unloved in the world, and ultimately will be left vulnerable and without personal freedom. If we can gather enough material wealth we will have freedom (supposedly). If we can be impressive enough to others we will earn our right to be loved and respected. But the scarcity mentality, once learned, will continue to make us distrust that these things will last as long as we need them. So we engage in what Brene Brown calls "the hustle for worthiness."

In this "hustle for worthiness", people engage in comparison, perfectionism, superiority, workaholism, and blame. Atelephobia is the technical term for the fear of never being good enough. That is the thing we fear that motivates us to "the hustle." Paradoxically, the more we focus on "enough" and strive for it, the less satisfaction and fulfillment we experience in our lives. This is because have trained ourselves to see "normal" as not good enough. So it has to be extraordinary before we stop striving and enjoy our lives. Is it possible for every day to be extraordinary? Logically, that doesn't even make sense.

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If you want to stop feeling like you are never (fill in the blank) enough, I suggest you START the following new ways of thinking and acting:

Becoming more vulnerable to your own feelings.

Becoming more picky about which voices matter in your life.

Embracing your own story and being more authentic.

Working for "good enough for now" while looking forward to growth in the future.

Being present in your own life in the present moment.

Cultivating relationships that make you feel good about yourself.

Practicing awareness and care for others.

Making choices based on your values, priorities and dreams.

Additionally, I suggest you STOP these ways of thinking and acting:

Living vicariously through other people's lives (TV, Facebook, etc.)

Making choices based on your fears.

Comparing yourself to others around you.

Seeing differences as good/bad.

Blaming, avoiding, threatening, criticizing, mocking other people (including yourself).

Letting only "special", "perfect" or "extraordinary" be the only moments that count.

Being so afraid of failure that you don't even try.

Waiting for 100 percent acceptance. Otherwise, you will forever give away your power to the "haters" of the world.

In closing, here's a challenging quote from Brene Brown:

"What's the greater risk? Letting go of what people think - or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?"

Patrick Ward, Ph.D. is a marriage and family therapist in Parkersburg. Visit his website at



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