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Never Enough is Tough

Michael Michel

Chances are, you've struggled with an internal debate about whether or not you are enough, be it in relationships, your work, your family, or simply, life at large. See if any of the following sounds familiar:

"What I'm doing isn't enough..."

"I'm trying SO hard, and it's getting me nowhere near where I want to be...."

"I feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and overall just resent where I'm at with (blank)..."

"No matter what, I can't make it happen and this is evidence of it..."

"I have to prove my value to others or they might find out..."


This conversation makes life tougher. To my recollection it's never produced stunning results for any of my clients, friends, or family; I know it hasn't helped me with my most valued endeavors. So, the only question we really need to be asking ourselves in regard to the enough conversation is, "Have I had enough of entertaining this conversation?" If your answer is yes--and for your sake, I hope it is--then you're reading the right article.


I know I've had MORE than enough.

In order to move through the life-cycle of this familiar self-limiting conversation with as much ease as possible, I've broken it into 4 parts:

1) The origin story experience of the "Not Enough vs Enough" conversation ("Enoughism", henceforth).

2) What Pushes enoughism to the surface, aka, what makes you engage with this conversation.

3) Moving Beyond Enoughism.

4) A Call to Action.

1. Experiencing "Enoughism."

You'll notice 'origin story' is stricken through. That's because it doesn't matter. Let's all assume your parents, friends, siblings, school peers, teachers, or all of the above helped you create the neural circuitry of the Enoughism debate that's been in your life ever since. And don't forget, your brain is wired to naturally adopt such self-limiting beliefs as a survival mechanism, so it's more your perceptions that has contributed to Enoughism's development than other folks actions.

So whether you blame one, all, or none of the above, it's there regardless. Now what?

If you can identify the conversation when it comes up, you'll have the ability and the choice to shift away from it and practice building a different pattern.

The dog poop on the sidewalk you don't see is the dog poop you step in, right?

Well, unlike avoiding fecal piles, building preferred and more truthfully representative internal dialogues takes time. Treat your mind like a series of muscles; the muscles doing the lifting are strengthened, and the ones that don't, atrophy. In this case we want Enoughism to atrophy, and that includes the "I AM enough" conversation. Don't expect Enoughism to disappear by the end of this article, either; like your muscles, the ones doing less work won't disappear, but they will allow the stronger muscles to take over.

Here is what you might hear yourself say and what you might experience when Enoughism shows up (choose your top 3 most familiar conversations):

  • You're overwhelmed with what you're doing
  • You're frustrated that you/it aren't 'better/enough'
  • You're burnt out, and just want someone to come do it for you
  • You're "Proving" yourself/your work
  • You're resenting those around you who aren't trying to prove themselves, aka, working themselves harder than Boxer from Animal Farm.
  • You're wanting to escape everything and just do something easier.
  • You're in a relationship and want to either get away and never let your partner see you again, or force your partner to see you and prove to them all the greatness you have to offer.
  • You're gathering evidence for how "enough" you are.
A quick note on "I AM enough." This version of Enoughism is a wolf in sheep's clothing; it manifests as a result of the same old "I'm not enough," conversation. Enoughism remains present, though you might trick yourself for a short time. "I'm not enough," and "I am enough," reinforce and need each other to coexist. One does not declare, "I AM enough," if they aren't already debating the validity of the statement. The trick is to begin having an entirely different conversation.
Besides, I don't jump out of bed in the morning and with enthusiasm declare, "By golly another day of being enough, what a treat!" Nor do I put my finger on my goal chart and say, "Ah yes, by this time next month, I'll have finally achieved my enough status. Can't wait to celebrate!"
Do you?
I've never felt a longing, nor dreamed of, nor deeply desired to be "enough...." I'm not even sure what that might mean or what it even looks like! Which brings me to the next point...
If you somehow ever arrived at what you considered enough, you likely wouldn't stay there long. Enoughism works like this: you're in a desert, striving to satisfy your thirst, and you see wondrous mirages of oasis after oasis on the horizon. You push yourself to reach them only to find they are still on the horizon. What are you going to do? Stop striving toward them? You're dying of thirst in a desert! So you push onward, ever seeking to resolve your thirst while despising the state of the journey.
The thing is, you aren't on the journey of your destiny in that moment, you're on the journey of "Am I enough or not?" And that journey DOES suck.
Wouldn't it be great to be practicing your journey in a different setting than the desert of Enoughism?

2. What Pushes Enoughism to the Surface?

Enoughism has very little to do with the results we produce. In fact, in almost every case I've come across, all of those I coached had accomplished extraordinary things. Writing and selling books, putting on workshops, enrolling their own clients, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, running a Fortune 500 company, etc. They set and score goals, and consistently take action to advance their vision. From an outside perspective, they're all around doing the "Kicking Ass at Life" thing.

One quality consistently present in people I talk to suffering from Enoughism is passion. Anyone who worries about whether or not they are enough wants something about them or what they do to matter. They see a need, for themselves or others, and then take steps to make a difference. It's when this passion for what they'd love to be different is misdirected that circumstances are made harder than necessary.

You may have decided by now whether or not you suffer from Enoughism. I'm guessing you do since you kept reading...

So you know you've got something you're passionate about, you've got the desire to make it happen, and you're even seeing some great results with actions you're already taking--now imagine there's an unforeseen obstacle or challenge. And there always is; the nature of physical reality is unpredictable and ever-hurling curveballs in our direction. Expecting and accepting this undesirable experience and taking the learning from it is how one cultivates empowerment and success.

Typically when we experience a challenge or obstacle, our brain goes wild. Usually, it makes some shit up to cope with what's happening. The Enoughism debate echoing in your skull is one such "coping skill." You know you're brilliant, skilled, and have already been successful, so what gives?

What gives has to do with where you focus your passion and energy. Before the obstacle that made your brain go wild making shit up, you had a clear path forward, and you were taking actions to advance the glorious vision you had for "X." Then, due to an unforeseen obstacle, forward momentum stopped and all that energy got left blazing around inside you with no outlet of any kind.

Thus is the pathway to Enoughism.

The amount of energy it takes to bring a vision for something we love into physical reality might accurately be characterized as tremendous. When said energy is momentarily paused and has no where to go, sitting with it might range in feeling from uncomfortable to feeling like a sun pulled into a black hole. My own experience feels something like I want to explode. Not the most graceful expression of my upset, but certainly the most accurate. I just want to EXPLODE out of my skin, my circumstance, the present moment and just BE living in my vision already!

That's because Enoughism is SO uncomfortable to sit with!

"If only I were better, this simply wouldn't have happened," you might say. Or, "If what I did were enough, everything would be great forever and I'd never suffer again."


Yeah right! Go ahead and laugh because that is a funny one.

Here's the misconception putting you, and me, in the fire of self-loathing time and again: We're somehow NOT living in our vision already. As if you're NOT supposed to be experiencing challenges on your journey.

When I consider the challenges I'm facing in the present moment, and then project into the future to where I want to be, I look back on what the path might have looked like in getting there. For me, this frames my life and my circumstances much differently. Where you are now might reflect exactly where you need to be in order to advance your vision--for relationship, your projects, your career, etc.

Imagine your vision is like a tide coming in, each new manifestation of the same wave (that is you) grows stronger and reaches farther, but without the preceding and receding version of yourself to build from, you'll never experience what its like to touch the shores of your dreams, nor deliver to the world the gifts you long to give.

3. Moving Beyond Enoughism

Now you recognize the experience, and what pushes Enoughism to the surface--a longing to create or be something/someone that matters. But how do you shift the experience?

Here are 4 quick methods for directing your passion:

1) Pause... breathe... temper passion with patience. Be compassionate with yourself. Your hopes and dreams will come to fruition eventually, now you must simply learn to practice pausing and breathing along the way. Meditation can do wonders for this. Creating spaciousness internally creates it externally as well. The same with compassion, which is actually proven to shrink your amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for our 'negativity bias') and increase recruitment of your pre-frontal cortex (the area of the brain responsible for higher order thinking) you can learn more about this here: In other words, you won't beat yourself up so much. Instead you'll be gentler and experience greater peace as you continue doing what you were meant to do.

Bottom Line: Practice being present and compassionate. Allow more spaciousness in your action-oriented style. This opens the door for the other 3 ways to move beyond Enoughism.

2) Pause... breathe... do something that brings you Joy. Engage with the things you love in a WAY that you love. Take time to do a little dance, a walk in nature, or call a friend to celebrate a recent win or simply to tell them they matter to you. Give yourself a reminder of what's important to you so as to stay connected with it. All the areas of your life likely to bring up Enoughism are meaningful to you and buoy the other meaningful parts even when they aren't being directly engaged with. When you give one area of life the attention and energy necessary to experience a small sweet success, it can assist you in bringing a fresh mind and energized heart to challenges in other, momentarily more difficult, areas.

Bottom Line: Practice enjoying yourself. Build joy-centered breaks into your work schedule, or micro-adventures into your relationships. Every so often, cut and run toward fun to reconnect with what you love.

3) Pause... breathe... look at far you've come! In the journey to change the world, or uproot all your old behavior patterns in order to live more fully as who you truly are, take a moment to pause and see the truth of your timeline. Ask yourself, "Given how far I've come, am I willing to be grateful with where I'm at?" or, "Might someone with my vision for life find themselves in this exact position on their journey?"

Bottom Line: Practice Gratitude. Empower yourself to be grateful every step of the way (obstacles included) and see the bigger picture. Challenges are inevitable. Practice showing up to them in the way you'd love to.

4) Pause... breathe... share with someone! Bring someone in on your journey, be it a coach, counselor, friend, or family member. You might want some professional support, or you might simply want a team rooting you on and sending good vibes. You REALLY don't have to do things alone. Chances are, your favorite actors, activists, athletes, etc. had a team/support network. MLK, Michael Jordan, Ghandi, and Mother Teresa, all had a team around them. In fact, the more people you share your vision with, the more power and momentum it holds!

Bottom Line: Practice creating a support network. No one has ever "done it alone," and even if they theoretically did, it can't be as much fun as experiencing challenges and successes with those you care most about. Ask yourself, "Who might I love to see in the stands cheering me on during the most important game of my life?"

4. A Call to Action:

Here's where the learning transitions from thoughts into muscle memory. Have you really had enough of Enoughism? Are you willing to demonstrate it? If not, all is well. We're all at different points in the journey.

If you have had "enough," ask yourself, "What is the EXPERIENCE of my journey that I'd love?" If you say, amongst other responses, "one that is challenge free," then this call to action piece is a great first step because once you work Enoughism into silence through healthy practices, your entire perspective and meaning of the word "challenges" might shift.

And with it, so will your experience.

  • What's one way you might demonstrate moving beyond Enoughism? What if you not only practiced the 4 things below, but you came to Master them?
    1. Practice being Present and Compassionate.
    2. Practice Joy.
    3. Practice Gratitude.
    4. Practice creating Support.
  • If you found this to be a helpful read, would you be willing to share it with a friend?
  • If you're interested in overcoming other self-limiting conversations in order to engage with the work you love in the way you love, you can sign up for a free strategy session with me here:
  • I also welcome any comments or questions you have! If you'd like to stay connected with my blog and have access to similar content, consider joining my newsletter here:
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