I’ve been chewing on this recently. There have been a few confronting situations this year (and well, over my whole life) where I have been confronted with my lack of integrity. This suggestion to “question your motives” can easily be used as punishment fodder for the hyper-self-critical mind. That you are a stingy piece of shit. That you are selfish. That you aren’t to be trusted. That you aren’t a good enough person. You know, the olde shame spiral shut down. It isn’t very useful.
But if you can apply this suggestion to “question your motives” compassionately and with curiosity, it can be very helpful to get you past rationalisations and inconsistencies, and see more deeply what’s going on. We are unreliable narrators of our own lives. We operate largely on auto-pilot, unconsciously. We all struggle with cognitive dissonance. Most things aren’t black and white. Context matters. We all have moral and ethical quandaries and tensions at play in ourselves and our lives. Many of us have values, ethics and standards that can be hard to live up to. This is normal.
Asking why, really why, five why’s deep into why you do, or did, or didn’t do something, can help you get below the surface. And get a better grip on who you are and what actually matters to you, what is really troubling you, your hidden agendas — and help you be even just a bit more honest and accountable with yourself and others. Which makes things a lot less stressful.