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?
This famous caption from the movie The Karate Kid is an example of one of the most common parental concerns when it comes to disciplining children. The child either won’t listen, or he needs to be reminded from time to time. Often, the more you nag, the more likely they will not do it.
When I took up a parenting course, I was given a long list of reading on parenting theories. I found that parenting covers methods of caring, dealing, handling, managing, education, helping and even programming children. It is a self-help set of rules that parents around the world would search for and apply in order to do all they think they need to do as parents and to ensure children’s needs are met.
The world of developmental psychology went further, from parenting theories to parenting styles (Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive and Uninvolved), and their impact. Authoritative parenting appeared to give the best impact: happy, capable and successful children.
So what do I do if I possess parenting types other than the authoritative style? How do I break that negative inherited parenting style? Some researchers conclude that combining and appreciating each parenting style is one way of achieving successful parenting. Other parenting literatures would suggest even more methodologies, success stories and proven effective parenting techniques. Unfortunately for me, none of these has helped me make my child pick up his towel voluntarily.
The good news is I didn’t have to wait for a Kung Fu Master to appear and “teach him a lesson”. All I needed was realization – that nobody wants him to pick up and hang up the towel but me. Asking the right question is the key to this realization. We can’t find the right answers if we ask the wrong questions. The Work of Byron Katie was a real lifesaver for me. Instead of asking ‘how do I make my child pick up his towel’, the right question for me was ‘is it true that my child should pick up his towel?’
The truth is I should happily pick it up and hang it instead, because I want it. If I want something, I should be happier doing it myself than expecting someone else to do it for me. So there I was, happily picking things up and before I knew it, my child began picking up his towel after his bath, without me wanting him to do it.