Are you ‘good enough’?
“The precursor to the mirror is the Mother’s face” -Donald Woods Winnicott
The 'good enough' concept is something I work with often. It is the prerequisite to confidence, self worth, and self esteem. Being 'good enough' is something very rarely felt. No more so than within the role of healer, coach or mentor.
During my studies of Psychosynthesis I came across the term 'good enough mother' and have found that it is something that relates to many roles not just that of mother.
Donald Winnicott was an English Paediatrician and Psychoanalyst who, during the 1940s and 1950s, was especially interested in the family and how it influenced the Self. He wrote many books on childhood and family and the influence of the mother on the child and its feelings of separation and wholeness.
His theory of the 'good enough mother' is based on the mother being the first experience of the world that an infant and child has. She is the one that the infant identifies with their sense of existence. She is the one who primarily fails to be the perfect mother as she struggles with her role. Winnicott maintained that this is precisely what a child needs, an imperfect mother to ready him/her for the outside world that will not be all that is expected and will bring challenge after challenge.
Winnicott suggests that in the mother’s failures, the child begins to become independent and learn self-healing. He also gives us the idea that the mother, in her imperfections, holds unconditional love for her child, and can bear the child’s behavior whatever that may be. This enables the child to both explore his/her boundaries, feel heard, have an idea of identity as an individual and understand that love is something that maintains through all aspects of life, behavior and emotions.
In our role as mentors, healers, therapists, and energy workers, we sit with our clients through thick and thin, we hold them as they explore themselves. We show them the mirror that reflects their own world back at them.
It is as important that we fall short for our clients, that we don’t have all the answers. It is important that we aren’t available, that we hold the space for them as they find out who they are, and that we can bear them in their authenticity. We become their ‘good enough’ mother.