The most practical advice on eating is to “eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’ve had enough.” But, what’s enough? What’s enough of anything? I believe that our relationship with food is a reflection of a number of other issues in our lives. How do we know when we’ve had enough work, enough money, enough aggravation, enough chocolate? How do we know if we’re “good enough”?
When I first started my life at Green Mountain at Fox Run, I met a woman who was wearing her company’s tee-shirt, with the logo “Good enough is not good enough.” Needless to say, she had a lot of work stress in her life, but it did prompt some interesting discussion on the ways that this corporate attitude, when carried over into the rest of our lives, creates a level of stress that is dangerous to our health and happiness.
One of the most helpful theorists in psychology was Donald Winnicott who talked in a series of radio broadcasts to young parents about raising children of the good enough mother (not the “perfect mother,” mind you, but the “good enough mother”). He spoke of how her helping relationship with the child, adapted daily to the growing needs and abilities of the child, allowed for the development of security and creativity. In a similar way, adopting the attitude toward oneself of “good enough,”adapted daily to our own changing needs and abilities, not requiring “perfection,” can allow for more realistic and reasonable expectations of ourselves. And for more time to take care of ourselves.
I’ve found this attitude of “good enough for now” to be quite useful as a stress management tool. It’s so easy to get ahead of ourselves, caught up in the future, what “might” happen, all that needs to be done, that we create an underlying demand on ourselves and come to believe that whatever we do, whatever we are is “not good enough”.
And so I’ve offered this mantra to women I’ve met: “All you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough.” Try it out and let me know how it goes. Perhaps follow up with the article, “Is Perfectionist Thinking Supporting or Sabotaging Your Success for Healthy Weight Loss and Lifestyle Change?”