What Does “You Are Enough” Mean?

Jason Henry
Jun 25 · 5 min read

I don’t remember the first time I heard or read the words “you are enough,” but I can imagine scratching my head in confusion because among the spiritual proverbs and truisms, this one wasn’t that easily accepted.

Namely because I couldn’t believe it. And so, my cynical mind went to work.

“If I think I’m enough, why would I ever do more? I’d just sit back and never achieve anything because I think I’ve made it already.”

“Can you imagine if people who go around hurting others believed in this? They would never do anything to change their bad behavior.”

“Is it even possible to be enough? Doesn’t that go against human nature’s goal of progress?”

All decent points but all miss the point.

“You are enough” means that there is nothing you need to be deemed as valuable and worthwhile. Consider when you were a baby. Were you enough then? Well of course you were. You were you, a unique expression of life, a one-of-a-kind precious heirloom of the universe, the likes of which no one will ever see again once you are gone.

Great, so no one argues whether or not an infant is enough. They just are. But that begs the question: when did we start to question if we were enough?

For me, it began when I started school. I started to learn that the kids with good grades were valued more. They were certainly treated differently by teachers. But then I also realized that if you were good at sports, you were valued too. You could also be valued if you were attractive, funny, rich or likeable. Maybe you can relate.

It then continued in the family. “Good” kids cleaned their room, cleaned their plate, didn’t talk back, didn’t question authority, participated in church, practiced their musical instrument and were overall pleasant for the parent. Maybe you can relate.

As an adult, it was all about the symbols of success. The marriage, home, car, job and salary. You had to hit the jackpot, else… you weren’t enough. If you don’t achieve these goals, something’s wrong with you. At least, that’s what the prevailing thought seems to be.

I was able to be “enough” for some things in my young life, but then things started catching up on me. I didn’t meet some goals at the times I “should’ve”. I started to get down on myself and question, “Is something wrong with me?” The answer that I heard was yes. This makes sense, because the judgment I had been silently giving to others was being doled out to me by me. Maybe you can relate.

There were more ramifications to come. Namely, self-hatred, low self-worth and an inability to drink in the present moment. Everything I did was about removing this question mark looming over my head. I wanted to be worthy, but I needed external things to be worthy — a far cry from the little boy that was pooping his diaper who was enough a couple decades ago.

But there was one more repercussion to this. When you don’t know that you are enough, you do not have a stable sense of who you are. If you try to do the self-love things that people suggest, you will realize that you do not like yourself and you will not want to associate with yourself, not until you are “enough”. As a result, you will more than likely abandon the self-love tips.

Here’s the bottom line: You will never be enough because you deem yourself and your life good enough based on the stuff you have or don’t have. Have you ever realized that you feel better when you have a relationship or when you’re making a certain amount of money or when you have a certain job versus when you don’t have these things? It’s because your worth is almost totally extrinsic.

Here’s how you deal with this and step into the knowledge that you are enough.

1. Understand and accept that you don’t think you’re enough because you are using external things to define your worth.

2. Ask yourself, “How do I feel about the thought that my worth depends on what I have?”

3. You will begin to feel some sensations. Just allow them to be there. These emotions are the emotions that have been supporting your search for your worth outside of yourself. Again, just let them be there; allow yourself to just feel them.

4. Repeat step 2 and 3 until you feel nothing.

What resulted for me after I did this was, to be honest, shocking. But everything started to make sense. My sense of self was supremely intact. I knew who I was for the first time in decades.

When I observed myself I saw a strong-minded, strong-willed person who likes being polite, not because he’s codependent but because he knows how far a kind act goes. He’s capable but he has a chip on his shoulder because he’s been hurt. What’s incredible is that people have been saying these things about me for years, but I couldn’t believe them. Maybe the chip on the shoulder part, sure, but not the positive stuff.

If I read this about myself before I did the process above, I would’ve blushed. But now I can clearly see that this is me. I’m proud to be this person, even with the chip on my shoulder. It’s not an excuse for me to be overly-sensitive, it’s just the truth. I love that I have it because there’s a reason I have it, but I can see that it won’t always benefit me.

Now, there is self-love, a high self-esteem and self-acceptance. I love who I am. I’m awesome. I want everyone to step into knowing that they are a unique expression of life, a one-of-a-kind precious gem of the universe.

The external symbols of success would be mere mirrors of the shining inner light within. I do what I do primarily because I can’t help it. This is who I am and what I value.

I can’t wait for more people to step out of their lives of constant comparison and into the realization of their one-of-a-kind amazingness. If you’ve been on the path towards knowing you are enough, I urge you to press on. However, if you don’t think you’re enough and you’re considering letting go of that thought, I invite you to let go. It isn’t helping you or anyone anyway.

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Jason Henry

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Former Psychologist | Current Writer | Constant Learner | “By your stumbling the world is perfected.”

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +536K people. Follow to join our community.

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