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When you don’t feel good enough it can color your daily life, from your career to your romantic relationships to your mood. Everything can be impacted by this one belief about yourself – I am not good enough. Inevitably it comes up with each and every client I work with. In some way, we all feel not good enough. Some space in us feels deficit – we aren’t funny enough or pretty enough or smart enough, the list goes on. What do you do with deficits? You fill up the holes with something positive right? Let’s talk about filling your not-good-enough deficits with something positive.

Not-good-enough comes from our childhood experiences. Often we know logically and have evidence that we are good enough in whatever deficit we are feeling and just can’t seem to shake that belief. For example, Helena may be a highly successful lawyer and still feel like she have no value as a person and still feels she is not achieving enough. This comes from a childhood emphasis, from her parents, on the importance of achievement and deficit in the value of other needs. Perhaps this her parents were stressed the importance of financial stability and power, always being right. However, her parents spent little time playing with her or spending time on vacations. Likely Helena will grow up to be a high achiever and will spend little time doing recreational activities. When she does go take days off she feels guilty and depressed. No matter how hard she works, she still feels she needs to work harder. Whenever she makes a mistake, she feels shame.

Children need many things to be role modeled and taught for them. It is almost impossible for parents to meet every need for their children, especially in this achievement and independence driven culture. Additionally, some people are just better at certain skills and have a higher capacity for certain things. Some parents cannot provide enough attention for some of their children’s needs due to their own limitations.

Inevitably, each one of us has unmet needs that benefit from being addressed. What unmet needs do you have? Perhaps you didn’t learn about finances, you needed more physical attention; maybe you needed more positive encouragement in order to feel confident; maybe your parents were not well attuned to your emotional needs. At times we adapt to these missing needs with resiliency and find beneficial ways to cope with the unmet needs. Other times these missing needs lead to us limiting ourselves because we do not know how to meet that need or even self-sabotaging due to fear of failure or feeling as if we don’t deserve to meet the need (based on implicitly receiving this message as a child).

Addressing this in my work with clients involves three steps:

  1. Identify the missing need
  2. Process and grieve the pain associated with the missing need
  3. Find a new way to meet the need now

Once we find the missing need, we can process it. It is vital to experience the pain and grieve the associated losses in order to move forward. That is where the therapist can come in to provide a safe space for that process.

Finally, we can then find a way for you to meet that unmet need. If you didn’t get to play as a child, we will play and you will have homework assignments to play. If you didn’t learn about finances, we will discuss finances. If you learned that value is based on achievement, than we will experiment with meditation and activities that are about just being and not doing. We get to explore and learn together. Often this process can be very spiritually enlightening as an adult. Getting to learn something and take ownership of your own abundance as an adult is a powerful and nurturing experience.

To feeling good enough,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensorimotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows how to guide you to feeling good enough in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com