Shifting to a New Question
Is there a silent, constant, unconscious question driving you?
Deep within your subconscious mind, there may be a question that’s driving you. You may not even be aware of it at all. It’s probably not something you consciously think about much — and yet, it has a powerful influence of your life.
It’s a “question” that nearly every major important decision gets filtered through. It affects your actions, your beliefs, your worldview, what you do, what you won’t do, how you feel day to day… All in the back of your mind, beyond your awareness, but literally controlling and shaping you.
If it’s there, wouldn’t you want to know what it was?
I’ve Known Mine for a Long Time
I first came across this concept from Tony Robbins or somebody like that. I can’t remember. It was a long time ago. I’ve always been a very introspective and self-aware kind of person. When he asked, “what’s your driving question,” I only had to pause, reflect a bit, tune in, and feel it out.
Something came up for me.
It had to do with “love” and “worthiness.”
Specifically, deep in the core of my subconscious mind, below the surface, behind the scenes: I was constantly asking myself, “How do I get love?”
There were similar variations on this question, that also surfaced when I started digging.
“When will I be good enough for love?”
“How big/important/special/significant do I have to be to get love?”
“What will make me worthy of love?”
“Who do I have to become, or what do I have to achieve, to be worthy enough of a potential girlfriend’s love, interest, and attention?”
… You get the idea. It was a question constantly asking me what I had to do in order to get, or be good enough or worthy enough, to be loved by another human being — in particular, a romantic partner, but parents, friends, and other people too.
What I Discovered
Even though I’ve been “aware” of this driving question in the back of my mind — nothing really changed around it for years.
In fact, if anything, it may have only gotten stronger and worse.
I’m not sure if “life experiences” only re-emphasized and strengthened that question — or if being aware of the question itself reinforced it and made it stronger. Maybe it was a little a both, a self-reinforcing cycle.
But it wasn’t until recently — years after first becoming aware of it — that something actually started to change.
It came through meditation.
I wasn’t purposely thinking about this, or looking for answers or solutions about it. I was just meditating. Whatever was important in my mind and heart would come up on its own. And honestly, there was a lot of other stuff that came up to be felt, processed, cleaned up, and cleared out first.
But then I started becoming more consciously aware of this. And even though I was “aware” of this driving question before, I started to see just how much it was actually affecting my life.
It was controlling and influencing me in bigger and more far-reaching ways than I had realized or even considered.
It was all-pervasive.
And it was slowly killing and exhausting me.
Connecting the Dots
If you read my “I Need Rest” post, I talked about how go-go-go I’d been, how hard I’d been working and hustling non-stop, how exhausted I’d become from pushing-pushing-pushing myself.
Only after I came to a crashing halt, and had no choice but to slow down and rest, I started to realize that my “driving question” was directly behind all this.
I was working so hard, because I believed I needed to — I was trying to be “good enough” for love.
I believed I needed to do big, important, significant things, to be worthy of love. I felt I needed to be an achiever, make lots of money, reach a high social status rank, be a leader in my industry… all so “some girl” (nameless, faceless, unidentified) “out there” would finally love me…
This driving question didn’t come out of nowhere. I didn’t just fabricate this question out of thin air. It came from direct, personal experiences in my past. Actual human girls I was very attracted to, that I wanted to date, that I wanted to want and be interested in me — and they made it very clear, in many ways, that I’d only be “good enough” if I was a high achiever, big money maker, and big social and business success.
They never said it specifically in those words. But it was clear. It was obvious. When she’d describe her ideal man, he always had all — and only — those qualities. She never talked about his heart, his personality, what the quality and environment of their relationship together would be like. He just had to be physically strong, financially rich, successful, and/or high achieving.
…and I felt like I was none of those things.
It wasn’t just one person. It was many girls, over time… tracing all the way back to high school, when I first started noticing girls in that way. But it continued on through college, into adult life. Was I attracting these kinds of women into my life, unconsciously? Maybe. Probably.
I knew other women who weren’t like that at all. Who valued and sought out different things. But my wound, and driving question, was still alive and well — so I kept being triggered by, attracted to, or found myself interacting with the kinds of women who constantly reminded me that love had to be earned, and I wasn’t good enough for them yet.
It’s not their fault. I’m not blaming them. There’s all kinds of people. We can flip it in reverse: some girls tend to keep running into, attracting, or getting involved with certain kinds of men — who are jerks, take advantage of them, mistreat them, lie to them, cheat on them, whatever. Are all men like that? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But something deep inside her subconscious keeps drawing her to those kinds of men, or at the very least, tolerates them and allows them to stay a part of her life whenever she meets one.
The issue was with me. Somewhere in my past, I picked up the belief that I wasn’t good enough, that love had to be earned, and I had to “prove myself worthy” through outward accomplishments.
I felt I always had to “do amazing things,” be special, be important, be significant — be awesome and amazing at whatever I do, and be among the top in my field or profession, make lots of money, be a leader or in some high ranking social position, etc.
You get it.
And it was that old wound, that deep driving emotional question, that was pushing me past my breaking point. Because I “had” to always be bigger, better, more accomplished, more impressive, more achieving… to be “good enough, worthy enough” for somebody to love me.
At the root of this question is another presumption, another belief.
It said: I wasn’t lovable or good enough as I am.
The driving question wasn’t “am I good enough?” It was “how do I become good enough?”
The question wasn’t “do I have love?” It was “how do I get love?”
The question presupposed that I was already lacking and insufficient.
And honestly, it made me feel like shit.
The New Question
In case you didn’t already guess, that kind of question will never be satisfied. The bar for “good enough” would always be raised higher and higher, no matter what. Because let’s be honest, I have done some pretty awesome and impressive stuff. I built my own successful business from scratch. I wrote and directed short films. I grew as a working actor at amazing speed. When was it “good enough”?
This is the kind of question that drives people to become mega millionaire ultra success stories — only to commit suicide after getting to the top; still not feeling happy, satisfied, fulfilled, or loved enough.
Not saying every suicide case is because of this. But I’d bet some are.
I needed a new driving question.
The good news? My old driving question was starting to naturally dissolve and break apart on its own. Why? Was I suddenly feeling good enough about myself? Finally checked off some big enough accomplishment? NOPE. Not even close.
It started dissolving and falling apart, because I had started to give myself the love and approval I so desperately craved and sought.
It’s really that simple.
I became “good enough” for myself.
Every insecurity, every self-doubt, every failure, shortcoming, pain, sadness, whatever — I just gave it unconditional love. I just practiced loving me, even — especially — that parts of me I felt or feared weren’t good enough.
I realized that even if I did find somebody else to love me — there was no guarantee she’d continue to love me forever. People change. Love sometimes fades, when it’s no one’s fault. Or maybe death would separate us, and then I’d feel alone again.
I didn’t want my happiness, love, or worth to be dependent on someone or anyone else.
I was the only person who’d be there my entire life.
Friends come and go. Lovers come and go. Family comes and goes.
But every day, day in and day out, I was always with me.
So I realized if I loved me, I’d always have love.
So I started doing that.
And then my driving question’s presupposition started disintegrating.
Remember, in order to ask “how do I get love,” you have to assume you don’t already have it. But when you’re giving yourself your own love unconditionally — suddenly, at least to some degree (because it is a daily practice), you begin to realize and feel you already have love.
“How do I get love” no longer makes sense; you already have it.
So I took this opportunity to replace my driving question with a new one.
I “Love” This Question So Much More
I thought about it. Reflected on it. Searched my heart for a better driving question, to replace the old one within my subconscious. I realize, it’s possible to have “no driving question,” potentially. But I wasn’t sure if my brain needed some driving question, or if I was advanced or enlightened enough to not have one… Either way, it’s a good question, a much better, happier, and healthier question, so I was totally okay with merely replacing it with this new one instead.
Here’s what I came up with, for me:
“How can I love my life more?”
I wanted to enjoy life. I wanted to love my life. I wanted to love myself and the work I did.
This is mostly in response to the opposite of what I was feeling, from being burnt out, tired, and frustrated from how my old question was influencing my life.
But even this new question has its flaws.
For one, it presupposes that I don’t already love my life a lot.
That’s why I added “more” to the end. “How can I love my life” implies I don’t already. “How can I love my life more” implies I already do love my life, but just want to increase that love.
It’s not perfect. But that’s okay. I can always update and change my driving question again later, if/when I want or need to.
I want my life to be filled with love: love for myself, love for and from the people I surround myself with, love for the work I do, love for the qualities, conditions, and environment of my life and lifestyle overall.
So now my question is:
“How can I love it more?”
“How can I love myself more?”
“How can I love the people in my life more?”
“How can I love what I do more?”
“How can I improve my lifestyle, environment, schedule, etc in a way that I’d love more?”
…and even though I’ve been practicing this new question for just a few weeks now, it’s already beginning to shift a lot of things in my life.
New Question = New Changes
I’m not quite sure where all this is going to settle, what the new “norm” is going to look like exactly for me, but I can already see some areas and things that are shifting into new directions.
For example, before I felt tremendous internal pressure to “be big/great/successful” as an actor, writer, director, etc. It was something I loved doing, but I was also doing it to be “good enough.”
Now I can drop the “good enough” part of my motivation — and just do it because I love it.
There’s no massive pressure, pain, self-expectation, internal demand, or desperate need to “do” any of these things any more. They are things I can do and most likely still want to do… but I don’t “have” to anymore, to be good enough for love.
Now I will only do these things if they add to the love and joy in my life. Period.
What else is changing? I’m finding myself being drawn to spend more and more time in nature. My most recent blog post (“Deeper Into the Wilderness“) was a calling from my heart to escape into and spend much more time in nature. For practical reasons, I can’t make that trip just yet, but I did spend most of yesterday hanging out deep in the mountains and wild nature (like, outside cell signal area, deep into nature) hanging out with a new friend.
It’s entirely possible and likely that, when finances allow, I may begin looking for a new home to live in, that’s much more in nature. Being in the middle of a busy city is convenient… but not great for my psyche or soul. If living in nature means a longer commute to things, so be it. It’s worth it.
I felt like a large part of me wasn’t being expressed, shared, or honored before. With my old question, I not only was trying to be “good enough” as an actor, writer, and director… but I also was constantly filtering myself, hiding large parts of my identity and interests, because I was afraid that if I “said the wrong thing,” then I wouldn’t be “good enough” in other ways. Like, maybe casting directors wouldn’t want to hire me, for example. Or the general public wouldn’t like me, and stop being a fan…
Not anymore. I don’t care. The right people will find me. Those who think I’m nuts will think I’m nuts. I’m more interested in finding my true tribe, than being a white-washed, carefully packaged, general wide-appeal people pleaser. I have a voice. And it has the same value and right to be spoken as anyone else’s.
I want to express and release more of who I am inside. I’m tired of holding back parts of me, out of fear that others won’t like me (won’t be “good enough”). Instead, I want to love myself more, by honoring, sharing, and expressing all the different parts of me.
I want to be more authentically and more wholly self-expressed. That feels more self-loving to me.
Letting Some Things Go
Some activities, efforts, goals, and directions were just about trying to gain or prove worthiness; I’m letting those things go. There was no joy, no inspiration, no heart fulfillment in those things. They were only and just about my old driving question.
I feel freer and lighter just thinking about releasing and letting go of those things. It’s some big things, probably a lot of little things. Most I may not even be consciously aware of at the moment. But as they come up, as I run into them, every activity and goal I have now gets filtered through this question: “how can I love my life more?” If something comes up and I honestly feel like, “I wouldn’t love this; this wouldn’t add any love or joy to my life,” then I need to either find a way to make it something I love — or find a way to not need to do it at all.
I’ve been single for a long time. Long story, don’t need to get into the details now. But as I ask myself how I can love my life more, this is one of the answers that rose up in my heart. I want a girlfriend.
Not to feel or get love. I already love me, and I’m already adding even more love throughout all areas of my life.
I just… think it would be fun.
It’d be a way to add even more love and joy to my life.
I want someone I can play with (literally, like board games, but also someone I can joke and laugh and be silly with too). I want someone who’ll enjoy spending a day meandering through nature with me. I want someone to cuddle and snuggle with. Kiss and do other fun boyfriend-girlfriend things with. Someone to learn and grow and connect with. Someone where we can inspire and support and heal and encourage each other. Someone who makes me smile — that I make smile so much too.
It doesn’t have to be a “forever” soulmate girlfriend thing. Although that’d honestly be totally cool too. The relationship can be whatever’s natural, healthy, and fun for the both of us, for however long we want it to last. I don’t “need” her to be happy; but I feel like being in a loving romantic special girlfriend relationship would definitely add to my joy and the amount of love in my life too.
Does that make sense? Of course it does. You’re very, very smart. That’s why you’re the kind of person who reads blogs like mine. You’re into personal growth too. You get it.
Refining the Question
The question we ask ourselves has a HUGE impact and influence over our lives. Becoming conscious of it is so important — and replacing it with a better one is an awesome gift we can give ourselves.
And I wonder… can I word my new question even better?
“Would this bring me joy? Would this increase my love?” Maybe that’s better than “how can I add more love?”
Except, to me, asking “how” is a proactive question; asking “would this” is passive. I have to wait for something to happen or show up, to ask “would this increase my love?” In contrast, when I ask “how can I find more love,” it prompts me to actively seek out, scan the universe, look for opportunities…
I could just drop “my life” from “how can I love my life more” — and simplify it to “how can I love more?”
And is this about me giving or receiving love, or both?
“How can I give more love?” is a different question than “How can I feel or receive more love?”
“How can I experience more love in my life?” could easily imply both giving and receiving.
I dunno. I’ll continue refining and playing around with it.
Maybe it needs to include “and enjoy” too. After all, it’s possible to love someone or something, without necessarily having fun or enjoying it at the same time. So maybe my new driving question should be, “How can I add even more love and joy to life?”
And is it “my life” or “to life overall, to the world, the whole/bigger picture”?
You know what? My last driving question was very externally-oriented. It was looking from the outside-in, to determine my worthiness. And it was constantly pushing me to be “big” and successful, in global/whole world terms. I think, as an act of self-love, at least for now… I need to orient on me.
How can I feel more love? How can I experience more joy?
I know that when I fill up with love and joy, it naturally wants to overflow and be shared with everyone around me too. Perhaps the most loving thing for the world is to first fill up and overflow myself with love and joy.
Whereas if my question and orientation is about putting more love into the world, I’m focusing on others and the outside world. Knowing me, it’s possible I could slip into some kind of self-sacrifice/martyr type role.
It’s in my nature to want to help people. Self-love isn’t selfish. The more I give love to myself, the more LOVE will naturally overflow and be shared with others.
Maybe some people are black holes that take and take and take, and never give back. I am not one of those people. I have the opposite problem. I’ve been known to over-give, to take care of others more/better than myself.
So for my new question, I’m keeping it self-oriented.
How can I feel more love and joy?
I like that.
I’m gonna go with that for now. Until I find an even better question. 🙂
Thank you. I love you.
See… even just intending to love myself more, my heart’s already overflowing with love… and for no apparent reason, I felt like writing “thank you, I love you” — because I do feel that way. I appreciate you. And I feel love for you.
Fill yourself up first. Practice self-love.
It’s life-changing … and it ends up benefiting many more people than just you.