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I am a psychologist who has been in private practice for over 15 years in Bryn Mawr, PA-Western Suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. I have a special interest in issues affecting women.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When Having It All Is Not Enough

     We can all relate to experiencing anxiety stemming from the fear that what we have is not enough. We ask ourselves, "Do I have enough money, friends, education, a big enough house, have I achieved enough accomplishments or have a prestigious enough career?". For some this feeling is a reality; there are many who struggle to support themselves on a daily basis and truly do not have enough. But for others, who have an abundance, unrealistic fears that what they have is NOT enough is an emotionally debilitating problem. This is analogous to enjoying a six course dinner at a elegant restaurant and at the end of the meal leaving famished. Continuous and unrealistic anxiety and fear of "not having enough" prevents us from enjoying and appreciating what we actually have.

    This nagging, " not having enough" feeling is often caused by an underlying belief that one is "not enough" on the inside-simply stated, feelings of inadequacy. This void gets filled by buying more "things" and/or by achieving greater and better accomplishments in the hope of being enough. At first, having more and accomplishing bigger and greater things might "hit the spot". However, this false feeling is temporary and after a brief period of time passes, the feeling of not having enough returns. And what was accomplished or accumulated during this time is then devalued.

     This does not mean we should not set goals that challenge and help us lead richer and fuller lives. We are all entitled to want more and have more. Problems arise when we believe we are inadequate to begin with and having more or doing more does not resolve this issue.

Below are a few tips to help you not get caught in the "when having it all is not enough" trap:

1. Set aside time to write a list of what you believe you don't have enough of and why.

2. Review each assumption and challenge yourself to imagine what you hope to accomplish from having more. The goal here is to develop realistic expectations of what you will accomplish from having more and how having more will improve your life. Realistic expectations and overall understanding helps to create genuine and lasting change resulting in improved self-esteem and happiness.

3. Start a gratitude journal. Write down all the things in your life you are grateful for and why.  Set aside time each day to read it and add to it regularly. This should help with developing a healthy perspective about one's life.

4. Consider psychotherapy to examine and explore underlying issues contributing to your feelings of not having enough or inadequacy that prevents you from enjoying what you already have.

I would like to hear from you. Do you struggle with feelings of inadequacy? Are you constantly craving more even when what you have is more than enough?


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