Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Are You Constantly Driven to Do More?

Sisyphus - Constantly Driven

Public Sculpture Sisyphus by Anna Chromy

Do you have an overbearing inner voice constantly driving you to do more?

I hope not, but productivity remains the ethos of modern culture.  Even though there’s a counter-movement towards simplifying one’s life and working less, chances are the demand to be productive has permeated your core.

Although I’m a champion of living with ease, I’ve recently discovered my “driver”, whose enthusiastically trying to trip up my year with less pressure.  She’s the one that’s always pushing me to do more, entwining her messages with the implication that I might not be good enough.

Listen to the Driver So You Can Say No

Do you have a driver, too?  If you do, it might be good to listen and consciously hear what she’s telling you.  Because, until you really know, it’s impossible to say, “No.”  Here are some suggestions she may be regularly planting in your head:

  • There’s too much to do, you must keep going.
  • Don’t stop now, you can do a little more.
  • I have a wonderful new idea for you!  It won’t take that much time.
  • Why isn’t your blog growing faster? (Even if you care more about people than numbers, the driver just wants more.)
  • You must post on your blog once a day, three times a week, or whatever the blog tyrants currently dictate.
  • If you don’t spend more time on social media, you’ll definitely lose out.

What’s your driver telling you?

You may be so blended with your driver that you automatically obey her messages without a second thought.  Then eventually you find yourself fretting, fussing, and frustrated because you now feel like Sisyphus from Greek Mythology, pushing an enormous rock up a hill that always rolls back down so you must begin again.

The Driver Feeds On Stress, Frustration and More

The driver just wants you to keep going no matter what.  So when you listen to the driver, chances are you may:

  • Feel pressured and stressed most of the time
  • Never satisfied
  • Living in your head rather than your heart
  • Too busy to listen to your intuition
  • Confused about what you really want
  • Find your pure motivation tainted by the lure of more
  • Sometimes engage in actions that aren’t aligned with your core values

That doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.  There’s just a part of you that started to firmly believe – probably many years ago – that your value depends on your productivity and more is always better than less.  Now you’re entangled in the driven life and any attempt to let go feels unsettling and even threatening to your perfect status quo.

Release Yourself from the Driven Life

But, I no longer want to live the driven life!  The consequences are neither healthy or fun, and certainly not in line with my most cherished values.

I know the driver developed to protect me in some way.  Perhaps she keeps me busy so I won’t see a harsh truth.  But, I’m ready to face and heal what’s hiding in those folds of my unconsciousness.

So I won’t be unkind and just kick her out the door.  Instead, I’ll befriend her and get to know when she’s trying to amp up the game.  When those messages come, I can reassure her, “Thanks, but don’t worry.  It’s fine, we’ve done well.  We’ve done enough and it’s time for a lovely break.”

Do you have an inner driver that won’t let you alone?  How do you manage to quiet her down?

I’m glad you’re here and thank you so much for sharing my posts.  If you’re new, please consider subscribing for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra

Image:  Surrealist lover

 

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25 Comments

  1. That’s it in a nutshell, Sandra. The belief that my value depends on my productivity. This is the one I challenge, over & over. I love the idea of befriending her. “We’ve done enough and it’s time for a lovely break” ~ I’ll take those words with me today.

    Thanks for your beautiful insight, Sandra! 😉

    • It’s nice to hit in on the head, isn’t it Dar? I agree though that we need to challenge these deeply seated patterns over and over again. They can arrive in subtle ways and be pretty tricky. Just seeing it though is a first step and progress. I’m glad you love this phrase and can take it along with you.

  2. I *do* have an inner driver and she has been re-conditioned to enjoy unfolding. My mind enjoys creating and learning and engaging as much as my heart does – so I give the driver her time because she is most efficient and effective and *then* I have large blocks of time to play in nature and with my kids and just be. My driver functions best when given lots of time off.

    *grin* My children are currently quite self-sufficient except that the truly do need a “driver” to get to school and activities. I am their chauffeur (and I like it). That type of driving is really one of the few solid time commitments I have – although I find I do like a bit of structure for work, I can create that within unfolding.

    • I love your approach, Joy! Because I love creating, learning, and engaging too and it only becomes draining when it goes too long without a break and some play time. I appreciate this : “My driver functions best when given lots of time off.” Me too! Thanks for sharing your insights and approach with us.

  3. Some weeks ago I had this wonderful discovery: I talked to my oldest friend and psychotherapist, Maj-Britt, 83 years old and the wisest somna I know. She asked me: Where are you when you not are in a project of yours for the moment? In the beginning I couldn’t understand her question but after short while I just sat there breathing, feeling the clear mindful feeling of NOW! Then I asked her about all my lovely AND demanding project ideas in my head. And she answered. They are tools in toolbox in life. From that moment I just love my “driver”. She helps me to be creative. And from now on I now that NOW is there when I want it. And I don’t have to be driven if I don’t want to.

    • What a beautiful story, Anki! I’m so glad that you have such a wise friend. I think the creative impulse is such an important part of our life too! And, it works so beautifully when it’s balanced with NOW. Thanks for adding that perspective. I’m so inspired you feel liberated from being driven.

  4. We are more like codrivers. And I am the one who has got the map.

  5. Thanks for the reminder Sandra. My driver screams at me night and day and if I can get just one more thing off my list…….it was a great reminder to be happy with what I do get done and not what I didn’t get done. As a Mom of 3 small children and 2 dogs the never ending list can get overwhelming every minute of every day. On top of that I am trying to change the world but that’s just another to do on my drivers list. Have a lovely day.

    • Hi Jacqueline,

      Life is busier with 3 kids, 2 dogs, and the aim to change the world, isn’t it! I’m glad this post reminded you to enjoy what you’ve done and let go a bit. Wishing you a lovely day too!

  6. Jean Sampson

    Hi Sandra. This question has sort of got me confused, because, really, I don’t think I am a very driven person, but if I have a job to do, say being responsible for putting up an art show, yes, I am driven to do it right. But whatever I do for my own life, say in art and poetry, I am not at all driven to do more. If I have a project to do or a show to prepare for, then it is driver time again. Actually, I do NOT like it when a driver is in control of my life—– and I get stuff done to get rid of that driven feeling. I do believe that where I love to be is in the non-agenda space of the right brain. The left brain is the only one in there who cares at all whether any goals are met, but the right brain doesn’t even have a notion of what a goal is!. I tell my drawing students that they are going to leave any of their desire/drive, to learn to draw outside of my studio if they are really GOING to learn to draw. The left brain got them to the class but the right brain, who doesn’t care if it learns to draw or not, just wants to copy those fascinating lines and angles in the set-up in front of it. It is not even judging whether the lines are “good or bad” because those are words the left brain uses! When I am being controlled by a driver and can’t hide from it, I feel like I just want to give it what it wants and go back to my peaceful, non- agenda, probably right-brained space, sort of when you were daydreaming as a kid and your mom had something she wanted you to do. You did it as quickly as you can and then got back to the important stuff! 🙂 Interesting to explore that, Sandra. Thank you for inspiring me to think about that.

    • Jean,

      I love this whole idea of the “non-agenda space” of the right brain! I wonder how much we could get done from there? I haven’t been a flow person as such, but I feel like I could enjoy and benefit from spending more time in the right brain space. I’m so glad you brought this up!

      It’s good to have the capacity to get things done. I think of the driver as associated with “more” – pushing to do more beyond reasonable limits.

      I hope you get to spend all the time you wish in that non-agenda space of mind. That sounds so lovely to me.

  7. Hi Sandra,

    Love this post! This is when my inner driver comes out:
    When I’m in lack or scarcity
    When I’m into competition
    When I feel less than
    When I feel like I’m losing
    When I feel like I’m not enough blah blah blah…

    How do I break free?
    Laugh! Because to think any of these thoughts is ridiculous. They’re all untrue. I’m so much better than I ever was. Maybe it’s wisdom with age;)

    • You know yourself so well, Tess! Those can all be button pushers that make the driver go wild.

      What a great prescription! To really know her words are not true is such a huge step forward. And, it’s so much more fun to laugh than get all wrapped up in the lies. Thanks for sharing your secret.

  8. Someone finally gave it a name!

    I was just thinking about how “silly” I am to keep on wanting more and more when deep inside I know I have enough. I seem to relish the feeling of being tired and that busy feeling too.

    Thanks for reminding me to take a much-needed mental break. 🙂

  9. Hello; I am generally good at knowing when to tell the driver no, but I have noticed that the longer I go between sales; the more insistent he gets and the more driven I become. So I try to remind myself that there are so many ways to measure success and my needs are still being met; so don’t push yourself so hard. Just the other day I wrote one of my best posts after killing most of a day listening to a book on tape. and I don’t think of sisyphus. I think back to when i was still traveling with the family carnival making du with older trucks. sometimes to get one of them started I had to help push it. So in the worst times i picture myself pushing that truck up a hill. On good days I picture cresting a hill jumping inside that truck and rolling down the other side. smile Thanks for the reminder and take care, Max

    • You are so self-aware, Max! It’s good to know when that driver pops up and you have a perfect response for him.

      That truck sounds heavy! I hope all your days feel like easily rolling down the other side. I appreciate hearing your insights.

  10. I have had this problem. In my case it lead to a couple decades of being a workaholic. But my more usual obstacle is focus. I’m interested in everything! I can’t really stay absorbed by just one career or profession. So I am driven, but everywhere. I try to stick to one area of expertise or exploration, but after a few years I always move sideways. Though some have counseled me this is an impairment to success, I haven’t been able to stop trying to connect each thing I love to everything else. Something in me says it isn’t wrong, but it could be a problem of brain chemistry too. I worry about it.

    • Hi Mike,

      Isn’t that called a “multipotentialite”? I’ve heard that there are people who are like this. They love and explore different interests and have many different careers and jobs in their lives. Maybe you’re intuition is right and it’s not wrong but a natural part of your being. It seems like you’ve had a fascinating life. But, I can understand it can be challenging to be driven to do to many different things.

      I hope you find a way with this that feels good for you. It’s always good to “see” you.

  11. Sandra great post. I used to be so driven and I have learned the hard way that living that way does not serve me and the universe has given me enough messages now that I know that when i find myself heading down that path , it is time to breath and step away. I have let my driver go and it feels good
    Namaste

    • Your story is so inspiring, Suzie. I love your morning routine of self-care and walks on the beach. You have so much to share with others to help us get out of the “more” trap.

  12. I love the way you spoke with the Driver (at the end of the post). What a way to change the relationship! Thanks.

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