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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Good Enough Is Good Enough


**What’s Love Got to Do with It? spoilers contained herein


I recently watched What’s Love Got to Do with It? (2022) and enjoyed it, mainly because I’m a fan of Lily James. For those unfamiliar with the film, one source describes it thusly:


In London, an award-winning film-maker [James] documents her best friend’s journey into an assisted marriage in line with his family’s Pakistani heritage. In the process, she challenges her own attitude towards relationships.


Viewing enjoyment aside, there were two scenes in the film with which I disagreed as they regard the sentiment expressed by James’ character. In one scene, when reading a bedtime story to her nieces and reframing the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” to reflect her own experience, James’ character states:


“Beauty and the Beast.” Well, Beast had his faults, but persistence pays off. He didn’t actually lock Beauty in his cellar. That’s just what a relationship felt like to Beauty. Over time, Beauty grew to enjoy Beast’s company. You know, he was dependable and available, and there’s a lot to be said for those qualities. Was the beast her dream hunk? No. Did he sweep her off her feet? No. Did he take her breath away? Perhaps not. But Beauty had learnt that it’s better to simmer, then boil. What the beast was, kids, was good enough. And sometimes, good enough is good enough.


When one of the girls adds commentary to the tale by stating, “And she [Beauty] was in love with the beast,” James’ character corrects her by clarifying, “She was in like with him.” When the child askes, “What do you mean, ‘in like?” James’ character responds, “In like with him, which is way more important,” neglecting to clarify the meaning of her statement.


During the scene in question, James’ character settled for a veterinarian rather than continuing to cycle through failed romantic relationships. Her retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” was thusly expressed with defeatist sentiment, because her character valued being in love rather than in like.


Of this matter, I stated in a blogpost entitled Luv(sic):


Concerning such demands, I’m reminded of a short video produced by The School of Life entitled “The Three Requirements of a Good Relationship.” In the video, the narrations states:


“We are told that love is meant to involve the almost total merger of two lives. We expect that a loving couple must live in the same house, eat the same meals together every night, share the same bed, go to sleep and get up at the same time; only ever have sex with—or even sexual thoughts about—each other, regularly see each other’s families, have all their friends in common, and pretty much think the same thoughts on every topic at every moment. It’s a beautiful vision, but a hellish one, too, because it places an impossibly punitive burden of expectation on another human. We feel the partner must be right for us in every way, and if they’re not, has to be prodded and cajoled into reform.”


From a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) perspective, I understand how people disturb themselves with irrational beliefs about how intimate relationships should, must, or ought to function. Who among us hasn’t experienced the unpleasant consequences of our upsetting beliefs?


I think of ought statements as moral and ethical proposals, should statements as advisory imperatives, and must statements as rigid mandates. While each of these statements represents demandingness, I consider must statements as the most stringent type.


In REBT, “musterbation” is the term used to describe forceful commands people use with themselves, towards others, and in association with the world as a whole. While I hear that masturbation is a pleasurable experience, musterbation causes dissatisfaction.


Regarding James’ character, why mustn’t she settle for the standard which posits that “good enough is good enough”? In her retelling of a fairy tale, Beauty settles for Beast, though James’ character is unable to articulate why this measure is appropriate.


Expanding upon a countervailing narrative—that one must be fulfilled in virtually every way by a romantic partner—The School of Life excerpt listed above highlights how irrational it is to favor a standard other than “good enough is good enough.” In fact, the source describes it as a “hellish” expectation.


Too often, I’ve heard people in my personal and professional life—most often women—who express that settling in a romantic relationship is a supposedly abysmal option. Generally, they’ve been taught this self-disturbing and musterbatory notion from others, as was the case with James’ character indoctrinating her nieces.


Why must a person seek the fleeting experience of being in love when the overwhelming majority of intimate relationships are unable to maintain euphoric feelings for more than a short while? Moreover, what’s wrong with a lasting experience of being in like—good enough?


The second scene in What’s Love Got to Do with It? with which I take issue unfolds when again telling a bedtime story to her nieces, reframing the fairy tales “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White” to reflect her own experience, as James’ character states:


“Sleeping Beauty” tried to fake it to make it. She was just sad, and so she went to sleep for a hundred years. “Snow White” was also sad. She ate a poisoned apple on purpose, because she was depressed—which literally means “deep rest.” And no one lived happily ever after, because that never happens in real life—only in fairy tales.


Although James’ character once claimed to accept that “good enough is good enough,” she wasn’t convinced of this standard. Consequently, she disturbed herself into a depressive episode with the irrational belief that she must be in love and refuse to settle for being in like.


Her conclusion is the stuff of nightmares. And as appropriately noted by James’ character, the act of suicide attempts—and even completion—becomes a palpable option for many people when disturbing themselves with unhealthy beliefs in opposition to unconditionally accepting a good enough standards.


 In a blogpost entitled Good, Better, Best, I again used The School of Life’s guidance by stating:


When working with clients, rather than advocating perfectionism, I focus on a “good enough” standard. Regarding this, one source states:


In order to remain more or less sane, which is a pretty big ambition already; we have to learn not to hate ourselves for failing to be what no ordinary human being ever really is anyway. The concept of ‘good enough’ was invented as an escape from dangerous ideals […] Yet, none of this should lead us to feel freakish or unlucky. […] It takes a good deal of bravery and skill to keep even a very ordinary life going […] We should, perhaps more often, step back in order to acknowledge in a non-starry-eyed—but very real way—that our lives are good enough and that is, in itself, already a very grand achievement.


Rather than upsetting ourselves with absurd standards of attainment, we can instead acknowledge that while the experience of being in love may be thrilling, it isn’t a perpetual mental and emotional state in which we can exist. It’s a transient experience at best.


After all, and admittedly an anecdotal query, who do you personally know that has ever remained in love beyond a year or so? Perhaps the flexible standard of an ordinary life in which good enough is good enough would be more practical, albeit not as thrilling.


Nevertheless, people are allowed to disturb themselves into a miserable condition with the irrationality of principles other than good enough being good enough. Interestingly, as is the case with so many romantic comedies, What’s Love Got to Do with It? doesn’t show what ultimately becomes of a character who pursues being in love versus in like.


The audience is led to understand that James’ character winds up with her lifelong friend who happens to be a physician and who has a family to whom her mother is close in proximity and affection. In the end, she apparently got precisely what she inflexibly desired.


How many people do you personally know that have similar outcomes—those akin to a fairy tale? Now, how many people do you know who have perpetually disturbed themselves, ruined relationships, and created hellish circumstances in pursuit of vanishing in love experiences?


For those of us who choose not to upset ourselves with rigid standards, asking what love has to do with intimate partnership, accepting the process of being in like, and leading a good enough life is achievable and perhaps healthier in the long run. Good enough is truly good enough.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW





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