An Open Letter to the Not Good Enough Child

One of the most common repeated themes I’ve come across in a quarter century as a therapist is the childhood-instilled belief that we are Not Good Enough. In the limited scope of a child’s experience, the child assumes that the “big nostril people” know more than they do, so the Not Good Enough message, whether spoken or implied by the child’s understanding of events, sinks in as a timeless personal truth.  Except that it’s never been true. It’s never even been about the child.

When a child’s performance

falls short, it’s not an indication, (as children often believe,) that they are somehow deficient as human beings. All it means is that they are human, (just like the other humans in their lives,) and that they have things to learn, (just like the other humans in their lives.) We don’t become Humans of Worth when we perform a certain way.

The internalized lie feels so true in that moment! When it happens again and again, it becomes a false identity: Not Good Enough. Its tenacity is not an indication of its veracity. This is so common that I thought I’d address it here:

Dear One,

Thank you. I see you, and I want you to know you have always been good enough! I see your hard efforts and your frustration at seemingly “always” missing the mark.

Your place in the world has never needed you to know all things magically without learning, or to do all things in a certain way in order to deserve love. You don’t earn love. You are loved.

You came to us as a gift. You popped up out of the Earth between stones your family placed in a specific path. They placed the stones before they knew what you would bring to the landscape.

Sometimes just being yourself, your presence pushed those stones out of their expected path. This was your job!

Sometimes families try to force their landscape to wrap around their plants, rather than allowing the plants to inform the design. They tried to tell you not to grow that way: How dare you push the stones into chaos! The truth is, those stones no longer belong where they had placed them before you arrived.

People tend to try to change the things and people outside of themselves in order to feel better inside. That doesn’t usually go so well for anyone.

They may have shamed you for bringing what felt like chaos. They may have stepped on you, called you a weed, tried to poison you. Or perhaps they treated you like a bonsai, snipping away at you, stunting your growth, hoping to form who you would become.

Here me when I say this: None of this was about you. This was what they could do, motivated by how they saw things. You were not designed to fit their image of you: You are who you are. You are not horribly flawed because you don’t fit their ideas of you.

Each person is a gift to those around them. The worth of the gift has nothing to do with whether or not someone embraces what they have received. The gifts we bring are always quality, even when the receivers don’t see it or understand it.

Keep growing. Keep moving those rocks that don’t belong where they are. Learn everything you can learn and use it well.

We see you. We treasure you and appreciate what you bring. We adore you and support you, even when you have no energy left to bring your gifts. We love you for who you are.

With gratitude,

Your Human Family


Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Does it seem like the rules that “qualify” people apply to everyone except you? Contact Tiffany today. Let’s talk.