Often in our relationships we can struggle with the concept of whether we are enough. This struggle can be debilitating and inhibit our growth and ability to connect. Regardless of what type of relationship we experience (intimate partner, sibling, friend, professional, etc.), we can experience the feelings of not being enough. But what is enough and who do we need to be enough for?
The question of whether we are enough can come from many sources. It might be the story in our head that took root over the course of our lives because of the early messages we received as children and young adults from family, friends, and even society at large that we are not enough, and we do not measure up. These age-old stories can be hard to identify because they have become so entwined with our sense of self that we cannot separate them. The question may take form because we are making assumptions about our relationship based on how we perceive our relationship partner’s behavior and what they are telling us. We can be triggered by our own anxieties, fear that we are being perceived as weak, or that we have insufficient skills and are underperforming. These reactions can leave us defensive, argumentative, and/or depressed all at the same time.
To better understand this dynamic, we must ask two important questions. Who do I have to be enough for? What is enough? The first question is more complex than it sounds. As a human being, we are enough just because we are alive, and we have value. As individuals, we bring value to the world and must be understood that our uniqueness is needed. When we talk about how we show up in a relationship, the value begins to shift. To be in any type of relationship we must care about the other person’s experience and have a concern about their needs. This is the foundational need for intention and curiosity. We must consider how we are impacting them. For this reason, being enough must be for both parties – enough for me/enough for you.
The measure of what is enough is challenging. Many folks believe that to be enough means you must be everything to the other person. This is a miscalculation. Being enough is not the measure of success. It is a measure of effort. Being enough is the opening of a process. It means that when I get indicators there is a need in the relationship, I can be self-assessing to determine how I am being perceived in how I show up. I manage my defensiveness and resistance to the possibility that I may not be my best in this situation. I listen and communicate with openness. I bring curiosity and intention to the relationship to learn what my partner needs that I may be able to provide and reset expectations appropriately when I cannot.
Being enough is not the goal of the relationship but the beginning of growth and opportunity. Being enough is about the energy, openness, and growth mindset we bring to connection. Being enough is always about how I am showing up in the present moment. This means that what it takes to be enough changes all the time based on the situation. Being enough should not be globalized but taken on in a situation-by-situation perspective to allow us to stay present in the here and now.
Learn to be enough in your relationships! If this is a goal you are working on contact Elliott at www.drelliottk.com/contact or check out his book Couples by Intention: Creating and Cultivating Relationships that Matter! at www.couplesbyintention.com.