How Do You Know What’s Enough? by Connie Dawson


 Jill’s five friends had gathered at Jill’s for a weekend reunion. Some came by car and some by plane.

They jabbered, bringing one another up to date. They did some touristy things. They told “remember when” stories, some crazy and some sad. They enjoyed dinners at several restaurants of local note. And they laughed a lot.


grandmother with rose

The time to leave came too soon. 

The women were saying goodbyes and thank you’s, when Jill exclaimed that they couldn’t leave yet. She even seemed a little panicked.

“So sad you will miss us,” one guest said with a twinkle in her eye.

“Do you want to leave with us?” chirped another.

“No, no, no. That’s not it!  “I still have a chuckload of food in the fridge! What am I doing to do with it all?”

The departing women made light of Jill’s question, but for Jill, it was a source of shame. In Jill’s head, it was, “What’s wrong with me?”


She wanted everyone look at what she was talking about. 

“We only ate a few breakfasts and had a few snacks,” she said as she opened the door to reveal an absolutely overflowing amount of food. “I only show you this because I know you won’t think less of me.”

Later, to her closest friend, she acknowledged that she had a hard time knowing what was enough. She bought food a week before her friends arrived, then bought more three days later, and bought more the day before, because she was fearful she wouldn’t have provided enough.

She had the same problem when it came to buying Christmas presents. She bought all year long, and again in December because she was always worried she had too few gifts.

She went a step further when she thought about how she’d been raised. “I seldom heard a No to pretty much anything I wanted. That wasn’t doing me any favors and my credit card shows it.”


The lesson in Jill’s story? 

She has interviewed friends by asking, “How do you know what’s Enough?”Enough is more than too little and less than too much. And having too much all the time robs the receiver of my ability to know what she needs…which is Enough. The summation of their responses:


Follow-up: 

Jill feels proud of making reasonable assessments about what and how much she needs. She wished she’d have known all along and says, “I’m more sure of myself now.” And she tamed the voices in her head that said that someone else knew what she needed better than she did.


There is more help on the topic of shame in Life Beyond Shame: Rewriting the Rules by Connie Dawson (2016, Balboa Press).

There is more help about avoiding overindulgence in How Much is Too Much? Raising Likeable, Responsible, Respectful Children – From Toddlers To Teens – In An Age of Overindulgence (2014, DaCapo Press Lifelong Books).

All photos from MorgueFile free photo. 

© David J. Bredehoft, Jean Illsley Clarke & Connie Dawson 2004-2017;  bredehoft@csp.edu, jiconsults@aol.com