How do you recognize when you’ve had enough sleep when you’ve eaten enough, when you’ve drunk enough, and when you’ve worked out enough? When do you know that the work that you’ve done, the cleaning that you’ve done, or the amount of time that you’ve spent on a project is sufficient? How can you evaluate whether or not you are doing an adequate job as a mother?
An article authored by a British psychoanalyst many years ago suggested that “good enough” mothering is preferable to “perfect” mothering. He described that if a child’s life was perfect in every way, the child might not feel the need to improve or develop further. However, we now understand that placing too much emphasis on being the ideal parent can impair our capacity to pay close attention to or even merely enjoy the company of our offspring.
If we set our sights on being perfect rather than content with being good enough, it can inhibit our capacity to take pleasure in any encounter. What exactly does this entail? Simply put, if you are intent on doing something flawlessly, it is almost unthinkable to appreciate what you are doing or devote sufficient attention to it to determine whether or not you are enjoying what you are doing.
How Can One Determine Whether or Not What They Are Doing is “Good Enough”?
In the world in which we live, it often seems that outward appearance is more important than actual life experience. To put it another way, if a mother posts a picture of herself and her children laughing and having a good time on Instagram, we have no way of knowing whether or not she yelled at the children to be still or fake a smile so that she could get the picture she wanted.
It is impossible to determine whether a person is pleased, content, or secretly unhappy based on superficial characteristics such as their beautiful body, nice house, or perfectly dressed child. However, we frequently fall into the trap of believing that if we only had that external representation of accomplishment or contentment, that would make us happy. When you pay close attention to proprioception, it can help you distinguish between what you are experiencing and what you believe you should be experiencing.
A few of how our thoughts can make it difficult to know when something has reached an acceptable level include obsessiveness, fear of missing out, anxiousness, and the influence of social pressure. But the individuals in my life who are the happiest seem to be able to balance working hard with taking pleasure in their achievements and finding the time to acknowledge what they are doing even while they are engaged in that activity.
The following are three straightforward methods that will assist you in determining when it is appropriate to stop eating, drinking, or focusing on a project, as well as when it may be beneficial to continue working on something for a tiny bit longer, run a little further, or try a little harder.
Share Your Predicament With Another Person and Get Their Perspective
It is often beneficial to seek the assistance of a trained professional who can maintain objectivity; however, a friend, a relative, or a colleague may be able to assist you in getting a better understanding of some of the aspects of your emotional world that are currently hidden from your view. To determine whether or not he needed to continue working on his thesis, Ephraim, for example, solicited the assistance of both a friend and his advisor.
Both of these people gave Ephraim their opinions. He told me that both of them took the time to pay attention to my fears. “And they arrived from two different locations,” the speaker continued. His mentor confided in him, saying, “Every grad candidate feels that way.” But they have to put an end to it at some point. You have reached that point now.” His friend encouraged him to think about the fact that he was delaying the beginning of the writing process not because he needed to complete more research, but rather because he was anxious about beginning the writing process.
Pay Close Attention to the Condition of Your Muscles
Your muscles are among the places where your kinesthetic awareness starts, and they can allow you to recognize if you’re attempting to keep stuff back from your awareness it might sound like an unusual recommendation but sometimes you have to listen to your body. When you feel tense in your body, it may be a sign that one or more of your emotions are getting in the way of your ability to figure out what you wish to accomplish.
One of our patients who struggled with an eating disorder, for instance, found that he ate better when he focused on his muscles instead of adhering to the eating guidelines he had established for himself. “I believe that my brain frequently ignores what my muscles are trying to tell me. When it comes to determining how much food is excessive or too little, I pay attention to the rules, so I don’t pay attention to my body, which is what gets me into trouble.
Acknowledge That While Some Degree of Effort is Expected, Excessive Effort Can Be a Negative Habit
It’s easy to fall into the habit of doing things without giving them much thought; for example, trying to be extremely fit or extremely thin, wanting to make a good impression on your manager, or even trying to achieve a higher salary than you require can all lead to this.
Acknowledging that you are performing a task automatically and without thought is the initial step toward modifying these habits, even though lifestyle changes are never simple. When you stop merely “doing” and begin to think about what it is that you are doing, you might find that you make some impromptu adjustments to what you are doing.
When Eleanor began to reflect on her knee-jerk response to her kids spending time in front of their computer monitors, she said, “I simply have a response that says it’s negative. On the other hand, I realized that there are times when we are all depleted and require time to recover.
I began to excuse myself for it, and I even began to see that maybe being in a similar location without having to communicate with each other was a healthy way to spend time together. The length of time that each of them spent staring at their screens gradually decreased as I became more laid back about the situation, which I find to be an odd coincidence.