Attachment Message: “I am not enough” Part 2

As children, we all receive messages about ourselves on how to navigate our connections with others, especially those closest to us. We use the messages to keep ourselves safe and work very hard to maintain the connection as much as possible. To experience disconnection from a primary attachment figure is very painful for a child and something a child’s brain learns to try to avoid in the future. As people grow to become adults and form new attachment relationships, we continue to use the attachment messages we received growing up. Our brain is not actively thinking it is ready to discard what we learned, because it served us so well as children. All children picked up on cues and behavior from attachment figures and made meaning from them. We interpreted cues that let us know we were safe and comforted and cues that let us know there was disconnection. Therefore, all children received attachment messages and have attachment fears.

Along with learning messages about how to maintain connection with primary attachment figures, many people also received messages about themselves, through meaning-making. I have heard many attachment messages in the therapist chair including “I am too much,” “I do not matter,” and “I am not enough.”

Let’s speak with P, someone who is familiar with the “I am not enough” feeling.

When does “I am not enough” shows up in the relationship?

When I feel like I am trying my hardest to make something work with you and it still does not go well. Then the thought that takes over is that my efforts are not enough. I think to myself that what I do for you is not enough and what I do for us is not enough. I expand on it into many areas of our relationship. When we have conflict, when you do not feel okay, or when you feel upset, then it is as though I have not done enough in some form or another. It is an awful feeling because I feel like I am trying my hardest to do everything right. Then when I get the indication from you that you are upset, bothered, or I did not meet you in the way that you had hoped, then this feeling comes up for me. 

When I think of past relationships with others, maybe friends or previous partners, part of me categorizes pieces of the relationship as maybe I was not enough for them. For example, when I make a request and I have to make that request over and over again because my partner will not do it, then I think I am not important enough for them to follow through for me. 

*Let’s pause here*

This is an attachment message coming up for P and that means P is feeling disconnection. Somewhere along the way P learned the message that you are not doing enough and you need to do more in order to receive connection. P made meaning of people’s dismissals, ignoring, minimizing, or inattention toward P. It does not matter if that does not feel accurate to the other parties, because in P’s perspective, P was not enough to receive the attention, grace, support, etc. This is the meaning that P has concluded.

*Let’s resume*

What does “not enough” mean to you?

It means that I do not matter enough to you as I am which is really scary to think and say. It means that at its deepest core, I am not enough for you to love me. It is almost as if I possess something about me, my personality, or who I am that is not enough. It feels like it is not something I can change or work on. It is incredibly sad because then I feel not chosen. To not be chosen by the person who I want to be chosen by the most feels alone. Which then at times makes it feel like I have to work harder to show you that I am worth it and prove to you that I matter. But then sometimes I wonder why I should work so hard for that, then I just give up the fight. 

*Let’s pause here*

We are hearing how much P wants to chosen, loved, and accepted. This is something we all want down to our core as humans. It is something that can be so vulnerable to say to anyone, let alone a partner. Yet P is willing to take the risk in order to receive acceptance and love. When we experience disconnection from our loved one we face being alone, which is something we are not wired to survive. P wants to feel close and connected, which may mean stepping into vulnerability.

*Let’s resume*


Similar to the previous blog post on the attachment message of “I am too much,” the attachment message of “I am not enough” also shows up in relationships. We want couples to learn about the attachment messages they each received growing up and connect it to their behavioral response when they get into a conflict cycle with their partner. This is important because they each are receiving an attachment cue that disconnection is about to happen. Sharing attachment messages with a loved one can be such a difficult and vulnerable step. We are unsure if our partner will respond effectively and fear if our vulnerability will be used against us. However, sharing meaning from attachment messages can also be the most rewarding. The more open couples can be, the more likely they are to get their attachment needs met and their fears calmed. The more couples can create moments of connection with one another, the more the safety they can experience together. 

If you have any questions about Therapy With Heart’s services please contact us.


Raquel Daniels


(480) 203-2881
8737 E. Via De Commercio, Suite 200 Scottsdale, Arizona 85258