Your good enough will not always be good enough.
And that’s ok.
I am, by very nature, a people pleaser and a praise junkie. I feel my best when everyone is at harmony with me and I know I’m doing well with life, work or motherhood because I’ve been told so. Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting to please people or to be encouraged but the extreme form can be crippling. As a teenager I could spend hours re-reading text messages, and analysing friends’ perceptions of me. If I thought someone was “off” with me I would avoid them for days. As an adult I can equally spend silly amounts of time wondering why a friend hasn’t text back or invited me to hang out, or whether a piece of work I produced was ok. It can be tiring and stressful and a joy-stealer. It is also easy for some of the real you to get lost along the way as you attempt to make yourself good enough for all people and all circumstances.
I am, however, married to someone who is the very opposite. Although Nick is great at encouraging people and maintaining solid friendships, receiving praise and feeling a need to please everyone is just not on his wavelength. If I am one end of the spectrum, he is the other. Shortly after we were married I thanked Nick one evening for washing up, ending with “you’re such a great husband”. He looked me bang in the eye and said “I know”. I stood there for 30 seconds with my mouth wide open, anger rising and ready to give it to him. What kind of person knows they are a good husband without being explicitly told, hey? Well, clearly mine. After a moment we laughed about it and it’s still a running joke between us now. The truth is he is a great husband (….99.9% of the time ) and whilst he still likes me to say it every now and again, he didn’t need me to. He knows he works hard at giving me the very best of himself. In hindsight, I was gobsmacked because I would never have that level of confidence to say out loud the things I’m good at. The truth is I AM a great wife (most of the time!) and if I were to say it out loud to Nick, he would no doubt just agree.
I now need to point out that our weaknesses can also be our strengths. I am a people pleaser and a praise junkie. Despite that (or because of it), I am also an encourager, an affirmer, I have lots of friendships, I say yes as much as possible and I think about how my actions and thoughts may affect people. Nick is thick-skinned and black and white. Despite that (or because of it) he is also authentic, loyal, trustworthy, will never tell a lie and what you see is what you get regardless of who you are or the situation. It is easy to confuse self-love with bragging or being egocentric but we have to love ourselves if we want to weaken our weaknesses and strengthen our strengths.
It has only been in the last year that I have really worked on moving away from an intense need to get everyone to like me and to be able to affirm myself. I’m beginning to accept that sometimes my good enough, won’t be someone else’s good enough. And that’s ok. And that sometimes I won’t be someone else’s cup of tea. And that’s ok. And that sometimes I won’t say the right thing, I won’t do the right thing and I won’t think the right thing. And that’s hard to take. But it’s still ok. It’s also hugely liberating, life giving and peaceful.
So I now have two rules that I am trying to follow: Is my good enough, good enough for me and is my good enough, good enough for God? By that I mean, do I know that I am trying (trying being the essential word!) to be the best wife, mother, friend, sister, stranger that I can be and do I know that I am trying to be the best daughter of God that I can be.
If you haven’t quite got the message yet it’s this: your good enough will not always be good enough… By somebody else’s standards And that is absolutely ok.
For those of you that can relate and want to join me on this journey here’s some practical tips that you can pick and choose from:
1. When you get a text/email/call that leaves you unsure of where you stand with your friend/family member/work college set yourself a time limit on how long you are going to think about it for, i.e. 5 minutes. After that time, even if you haven’t replied, take a break and change focus. Put the phone down, move away from the computer, have a drink, go outside. Do something that brings you happiness/calm.
2. Use the time limit about to rationalise and use logic. You might need to write a check list that you can always use. Is this person’s language/style of text/email the same as usual? Do you currently have an underlying issue with this person? Are you struggling with something else in your life that is causing you to be particularly emotional/stressed/anxious? The check list should help you work out quickly if you are just getting lost in thought or if you have reason to feel like something has happened.
3. Write down 3 things each day that you think you do really well as a friend/spouse/sibling/parent. Don’t ask anyone if they agree!!
4. Re-evaluate the things you do with your spare time. Is there anything on that list that makes YOU happy.
5. If you’re anything like me, learn to stop saying sorry when it’s not needed! Think about why you are saying sorry and if it’s needed.
6. If you hold a faith, ask a close friend to pray with you about it.
7. Take some time to think/process why you don’t think you’re good enough- did someone tell you? Are your expectations for yourself too high? Are your expectations for others too low? What motivates you in life? How do you motivate yourself?
8. Protect your heart and treat it with respect. Try to love generously, give grace freely and forgive easily but don’t confuse this with letting people (family included!) have some of your heart regardless of how they treat it. Look at some of your relationships that cause you to feel unnecessarily stressed.
I’ll be doing two follow up blogs to this (it’s a big subject right!)
When your good enough is not good enough for God
Raising children who aren’t praise junkies (This will be based on some research I’ve been doing)