The question “Is it true?” sometimes isn’t so easy to ask. When we have a stressful situation, sometimes there’ll be thought diarrhea going on. We might be internally fuming, ranting and raving. The thoughts think us whether or not we want to think them. The story goes on and on and on, but there is no clarity on what the real question for inquiry should be. Here are a couple of options.
Remedy 1 for past/current issues: Add the question “…. and that means that…?
Client: “I am irritated that the kids are making a lot of noise and don’t stop when I tell them to, I am fed up of having to repeat myself…..”
Facilitator: “Ok, and that means that…?
Client: “They don’t respect my authority”
Facilitator: “They don’t respect my authority, and that means that…?”
Client: “I am not important to them”
Facilitator: “I am not important to them, and that means that….?”
Client: “They don’t love me.”
Remedy 2 for future/hypothetical issues: Add the question “and what’s the worst that can happen if…?”
Client: “I am worried about angering my boss and loosing my job”.
Facilitator: “And what’s the worst that can happen if you loose your job?”
Client: “I would need to look for another job.”
Facilitator: “And what’s the worst thing that can happen if you need to look for another job?”
Client: “I can’t find one and have to rely on my parents.”
Facilitator: “And what’s the worst that can happen if you have to rely on your parents.”
Client: “It would mean that I am a failure.”
Facilitator: “I am a failure, is that true?”
In this last example there are a couple of ways to go, it just depends on whether you feel like there’s more to go, or “I am a failure” is the core issue.
Another point here is that repeating the statement helps to keep the focus zoomed in on the what needs to be addressed.
Hope this helps. More later on when there are only feelings or sensations and you can’t pin down a thought.
At the Toni’s prodding, and it didn’t take long, I decided to go into retreat. It’s been long overdue, and I guess I’ve been a bit of a grouch. There were no conveniently timed meditation retreat in the vicinity, so I took the 2 weeks I was accorded to and shut myself in my urban cave instead. Since we’ve just done a weekend The Work of Byron Katie workshop, I thought I’d go through all the Byron Katie material I could find and hunker down to work.
This is what I found.
There are no new stressful thoughts in the history of humanity. Across race, language and culture, they are the same.
These thoughts are not personal to us. They pop up when events in our lives occur. Then we believe them and suffer; or we could investigate them and invite the truth to manifest, and not suffer. Thoughts like
My parents don’t love me
I don’t want to look stupid
People should be understanding
People are not trustworthy
The world is a dangerous place
There’s got to be something better
Suffering is the story of the ego. Ego tries to re-create what essence already is. Why? Because it thinks it is separate. It is the ego who is identified with and attached to the suffering. The ego suffers. That’s what egos do to exist.
We have more ego than we need when we have more suffering than we want.
Suffering is suffering. It’s not personal.
Nobody can hurt me, that’s my job.
We can mind only our own business.
Its not a question of truth or morality. The Work does not condone any hurt or harm to the self, the other or the earth. it’s the just about asking questions, and investigating reality.
There are no mistakes. What is, is what’s supposed to be. The universe is a wise and friendly place. It’s always what we need in the present moment. If we pay attention, we will get that. We have everything we need. What we have, despite what we believe is exactly what we need.
It’s the old ‘nothing to do, no where to go, home in the present moment’ wisdom.
The Four Noble Truths
The Work reminds me of the Zen and Vipassana approaches to meditation, and the four noble truths:
The cause of suffering
The cessation of suffering
The path to the end of suffering.
However it arose out of Katie’s own mind and is entirely unrelated to any eastern or western wisdom traditions. So the four noble truths from the Work Katie recommends this:
Judge your neighbour,
Write it down
Ask four questions
Turn it around
Thoughts Think Us
Our thoughts project our world. Our world is a mirror reflecting our beliefs. If we live in an unhappy world, it is a projection of what we have not healed within ourselves. “The map is not the territory”.
Most of the time, most of us cannot not think. Thoughts think us, they don’t belong to us. Thoughts are mostly recycled, there are virtually no new thoughts. Since there are there anyway, the smart thing to do is to meet them with kindness and understanding and see what it is they really want. Our job is to ask (e.g., the thought “Paul doesn’t listen to me”) the four questions.
The Four Questions
1. Is is true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought? Turn the thought around (original thought: Paul doesn’t listen to me)
a) to the opposite (Paul does listen to me)
b) to the self (I don’t listen to me)
c) to the other (I don’t listen to Paul)
And find three genuine specific examples of how each turnaround is true in you life
For more information on how to do The Work, got to www.TheWork.com
My Experience of The Work
I can’t say that I’ as adept at The Work than the other things I do, like EFT and Integration. I definitely wasn’t 100% faithful to The Work. I’m still playing with it, and that’s what it is. It’s play. It’s fun and interesting to investigate our feelings, thoughts and beliefs. I’ve seen the humour in some of my ludicrous presumptions, the ‘I need/want’, ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’, ‘always/never’ judgements that have gone unquestioned and run amok. The Work as facilitated by Katie use powerful reframes and turnarounds, administered with humour and kindness. It’s another way to slice the issues and bring new understanding. These are the great and not-so-great in my experience.
looks at causation without the long story (spends less time with drama, more time with results, usually a plus)
quick results, sometimes change comes at the first question
allows own wisdom to arise and brings real healing
easily induces a better state of mind
can induce a higher state of consciousness
easy enough, people can self-apply (mostly)
after some practice, it becomes automatic (bonus!)
lots of free material on her website (TheWork.com)
What’s Not so Great
it might be hard for newbies to identify the stressful thoughts or the underlying beliefs. Sometimes people just feel a sensation or emotion without being able to articulate meaning. It would get better with a little patience and practice.
can get frustrating and exhausting
the presence-of-mind of the facilitator is important, whether it’s self administered or facilitated by another individual
And guess what I found?
What I held as truths, they are not even mine, they are not personal, they are certainly not new and definitely not in the now. They are just stories. “The truth is rarely pure and never simple” says the wise Oscar. And “never let the facts get in the way of a good story”, says the wise Mark Twain. And after experiencing The Work, I would say, “Dont let the truth get blown away by a good story”.
Suffering doesn’t happen to a mind that’s healed. So who are we without our thoughts, our beliefs, our suffering, our identity? That thought you believe, is it true? What would you be without that thought? And that thought? And that thought?
The way you give meaning to an experience will determine the way you respond in the future.
In the process of moving towards your outcome you will invariably experience results that are not moving you towards what you expect. When you experienced this result and begin to label it as failure then your next response will likely to be negative towards your outcome. It will literally stop you on your tracks!
On the hand, you can also label the experience as feedback. The results let you know you are not doing something right. It is a feedback for you to change the way you are doing it.
Jane is an entrepreneur. Lately, she has been feeling demoralized because her business is not doing well. On top of it she feels she is losing interest in it. When coached on the business challenges she begins to share her failures. She mentioned that she is losing customers to her competitors despite the excellent service she has been known for and gotten results in the past. She does not know what to do. These negative experiences have taken away the sparkle that she had when the business was doing well.
To help Jane, I got her to firstly hold the frame that there is “No Failure, Only Feedback”. With this frame in her mind she starts to look at possibilities of building her business. The exercise gave her some very good ideas to work on. More importantly, this frame provided her with hope and positive feelings.
“It is inherent in our intellectual activity that we seek to imprison reality in our description of it. Soon, long before we realize it, it is we who become the prisoners of the description. From that point on, our ideas degenerate into a kind of folklore that we pass on to each other, fondly thinking we are still talking of the reality around us.” ~ Aneurin Bevan, British statesman.
John (not his real name) is a childhood friend. We grew up together in a small little town in Malaysia. When he was in his early adults he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. He went through periods of trauma and ?nally stabilized with the help of medication. He has been stable for more than twenty years now. He is physically healthy and mentally ?t. However, every time I see him he will says he wish he can have a normal life with family and children of his own. “Who will want to marry me? I have no hope”. On the hand, I have a neighbor living upstairs and also suffering from Schizophrenia. He will occasionally show physical symptoms like shouting and singing out loud. So I thought, “who will marry him?” Lo and behold, suddenly I notice he got married. He even has a kid!
We give meaning to events that happen in our life and represent it through language. As Bevan says, language can imprison us and stops us from doing things. In NLP, there is a category of linguistic patterns called Generalization that can be particularly limiting or empowering. Statements such as “He is always late?” “This country is not safe?” “She is always nagging?” are some examples of generalization. A person who holds this generalization and responds to the world in this manner can sometimes limit the potential for choices of actions. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to notice successful people saying to themselves “there is no failure, only feedback”. This is a generalization that empowers people to continue to progress. Simply replacing the word failure with feedback allows the person to continue with the process of pursuing goals or outcome. As soon as the process is labelled as failure, it becomes an event with a label of ?nality. The process is implicitly stopped. The word feedback turns the event to process again and therefore there is hope for achievement. Is like magic!
In the context of coaching, language becomes a tool that opens possibilities for the client. In the hands of an expert, it can unveil the cloak of darkness with just a word or a question. Sigmund Freud, musing on the origins of language in his introductory lecture in psychoanalysis in 1915, wrote, “Words were originally magic and to this day words have retained much of their ancient magical power.” Beware of what you say to yourself. Slow down your thoughts and notice the language you use in your head. You may catch the culprit that has imprisoned you for a long time. Change the language and change your life. We all deserve a great life!
If you were to ask ten people what they want in life you are likely to get answers like happiness and peace. These are higher goals that most people aspire to have. Obviously, there are spiritual goals too. Let’s bring our attention to happiness and peace. These are examples of feeling good. If you were to think of a situation in which you feel happy you will likely cast your thoughts to sometime in the past that you felt happy. You will remember where and when and perhaps with whom you were with. As you begin to immerse yourself into this memory you will regain the happy feeling you had then, now. In essence you are able to feel this happy feeling anytime you want.
To illustrate this point further, imagine you are attending a wedding dinner. With a camera in your hand you decided to take some pictures. You scanned around. You proceeded to snap away. A few days later you fished out your camera from your bag and thumbed through those shots. Each shots reminded you a specific moment in time during the party. Some shots brings back moment of joy and laughter. Some shots bring back memories that go way back and connect to some nostalgia and etc. The effects of thumbing through those photos evoke a range of emotions. Think for a moment. If you have not thumbed through those photos you will unlikely have experienced those emotions during and after seeing it. With this awareness, you have some control on what you choose to feel anytime you want. It underscores the point that the mind and body are connected. What you think can produce feelings. What you choose to think will produce the feeling that you want.
Would you like to feel wonderful, now? You can. Here is how.
How to Feel Wonderful
You do not need to have a reason to feel wonderful. You can feel wonderful any time you want. This is how you do it:
Think of a situation in which you felt wonderful in the past.
Notice the surrounding, the people (if any), the sound and the feeling.
If you see yourself in the picture, float into it and be in the picture. See what you see, hear what you hear and feel what you feel.
Notice the location of this wonderful feeling in your body.
Touch the sensation with your hand and notice which direction it is moving.
Whichever direction it is moving, spin it faster.
By spinning it faster you get a more intense feeling of wonderful. Think about feeling gorgeous. You can have this feeling anytime you want. You don’t have to wait until you are dressed up for it.