How do we know when enough is enough?
Enough effort? Enough productivity? Good enough? Enough satisfaction? Enough safety?
As a Narrative therapist, I am alert to the influence of social scripts, 'grand narratives' that can invisibly influence our thinking and actions. These scripts often show up as directions, or instructions for life and have a tone of authority.
Phrases like "everyone should..." or "people ought to.." Sometimes the 'people' are left out, and we just here the command: 'work harder' 'try your best', 'get ahead', 'more is better'.
These are cultural directives, and they disguise cultural assumptions about work, possessions, status, social approval. When we don't take time to examine them, these directives can set up unrelenting expectations and stress about not being, doing or having enough.
This is where our imagination can step in to save us.
Although Narrative therapists are not specifically goal driven, we know the power of a good story, and a good story paints a vivid picture, one that involves the senses, a detailed setting, and physical sensation. So you might hear me ask questions like these:
- "Tell me what you would see, when you are organized enough?"
- "How will your body feel, when you feel safe enough?"
- "Describe what you might be doing, saying, standing, when you feel competent enough?"
- "What will other people notice, when you are working just enough and not too much?"
- "What might you be doing, when you and your partner felt connected enough?"
- "What might be the specific effects- on your thoughts, feelings, relationships- of a good enough effort?"
When we imagine results- vividly with all our senses, socially in our context of family, friends, colleagues, physiologically in our body movements, sensations, breath- then we begin to have a specific measures and indicators of success, we begin to develop a vision of 'enough' that becomes useful.
Instead of a vague, always shifting and never fully satisfied directive, we have a destination. And when our efforts and focus lead us to that place, it's like arriving at a welcoming home, where enough, is enough.