Raising children is a path that millions have walked before and millions more will walk in the future. So, shouldn’t parenting feel like being part of a big club? Yet, sometimes our individual parenting journeys can make us feel all alone and isolated, especially when we feel like we’re not doing a perfect job at it. 

Alfred Adler, the founder of Individual Psychology, explained that all humans experience feelings of inferiority at times in life. He called it a “felt minus,” because it relates to our perception that we are “less than” we ought to be. Do you ever feel like there’s a kind of person or a kind of parent you’re “supposed to be” but you’re not quite measuring up? What Adler noted is that this feeling of inadequacy is normal from time to time. This feeling though, is indeed a mistaken perception. You are enough, just as you are.

What kind of experience might we have in raising children, if we could get that we (and they) are enough, just as we are? The children in our lives benefit from a sense of security and connection the more we can ground ourselves in that idea: We are enough! Imagine waking up each day knowing that it is NORMAL to worry, to strive to be better, and to feel like we might be the only ones “messing it all up” – and perhaps that’s all an illusion. 

That “felt minus,” and the desire to become a “felt plus” instead, are important feelings – they can drive us to improve ourselves. Our endeavor to improve throughout our lives is a core human need. It can also be the antidote to feelings of inadequacy. 

Sometimes just hearing “You are enough and you are not alone!” can be the encouragement we need to help us face whatever challenges life throws at us. But when you need a little more encouragement to overcome that feeling, you might try one of these ideas:

  1. Put on your “strengths goggles” – resolve to see only what is good and what is useful, in yourself and others. Take a moment to express gratitude for something useful and good about yourself.
  2. Think of a time when you accomplished something – you learned a skill, overcame a challenge, tried something new. Send a text or a note to a person who helped you at that time in your life. Alternatively, share with a child or friend, or journal, about that accomplishment. 
  3. Reach out to someone who might need support. Just connect. Be there for them. Expressing our care for another is fresh oxygen in our system.

Finally, if you’re looking for a place where you are enough, just as you are…where you will always be left feeling like “I got this!”…where you can learn more encouraging strategies…consider one of the available resources listed in the Programs section of our website.