United Nations building

The world is a big place with lots of room for improvement.

Do You Feel Called to Change the World?

One person just emailed me, “Our world is suffering. People are suffering. There are those of us who are called to be alchemists of these intense collective energies as the world is becoming something new. There is a birthing going on. Women feel it in their beings and gather in circles to share and co-create new states of being to help mitigate the intense electromagnetic energies that are present. Can you please tell me how to work with The Work and at the same time be true to my calling as an alchemist? Do you have clients who are doing this kind of work and find balance and benefit with The Work too?”

What I Hear in This Is a Perceived Conflict

A conflict that if you do The Work, then you will lose interest in changing the world. After all, the turnarounds always point back to the self.

It’s easy for the mind to interpret this as: “I should just stop serving the greater good.” But is that true? Is it true that The Work points me away from service to the world?

The Work Only Points Me Away from Suffering

If I believe that the world is suffering, I suffer. When I see that I’m causing my own suffering, the need to change the world goes away.

But just because the need to change the world is gone, doesn’t mean that I have to stop doing things to change the world. It’s totally ironic.

The only thing that changes as I do my work is that my neediness drops away. I don’t need the world to be a certain way in order to be happy. That is freedom.

The same actions that I would have done before for the world can be done now simply out of service, out of kindness, out of love. There’s no desperation for results. There’s no anger when anyone gets in the way. There’s no anxiety that things are out of place. There is only humble, quiet service with a full heart.

And That’s Where True Alchemy Begins

Alchemy can’t happen when I’m angry. It can’t happen when I feel desperate for the world to change. Or when I feel overwhelmed with fear and sadness about the world. When I’m believing my stressful thoughts, I become paralyzed.

When I question my stressful thoughts, I become free to act boldly for change.

In this way, The Work is a direct help for activism in the world. It takes care of my internal world, and when there is peace inside me, I have the much needed space for alchemy. In fact, there is no greater service to the world in my opinion than a truly open heart. Miracles happen in that space.

It’s funny that not caring about the world ends up allowing me to better serve the world.

The Work and Service Can Be Done Together

I don’t have to be free first before I can be of service. I can do both The Work and service as I grow. The two feed off of each other beautifully. When I get stressed by my service, it shows me what to work on next. And when I do my work, it allows my service to become more peaceful and more effective.

Together, service and inquiry are like two legs carrying me forward on my own path of growing peace—which happens to be the same path for growing peace in the world.

What’s Your Experience?

Do you have an experience to share about this? I’d love to hear it, and I’ll pass it on to the person who asked this question.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“When you believe that such apparent horrors shouldn’t happen, even though they do happen, you suffer. So you’re adding one more person’s suffering to the world’s suffering, and for what purpose? Does your suffering help anyone who is being harmed? No. Does it motivate you to act for the common good? If you pay close attention, you’ll see that this too isn’t so. By questioning the belief that these things shouldn’t happen, you can end your own suffering about the suffering of others. And once you do, you’ll be able to notice that this makes you a kinder human being, someone who is motivated by love rather than outrage or sadness. The end of suffering in the world begins with the end of suffering in you.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

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crop dusting

The idea of dominating nature is so last century!

Stressful Thoughts Are Hard to Identify, Is That True?

Many people find that identifying stressful thoughts to question is challenging for them. When I hear this, I immediately check to see if they are holding a motive in doing The Work.

Identifying stressful thoughts is not complicated—if it’s stressful and it’s a thought that’s all I need to know.

But when there’s a motive running, the mind makes it complicated: “Is this the right thought for me to question? This is a silly thought. I don’t believe it anyway. I need to find the core thought and question that.” With complicated thinking, I miss the opportunity to question the simple stressful thought that arose on its own.

This Is Why Questioning Motives Is Valuable

Motives when doing The Work interfere with the innocence of inquiry. When I’m innocent, I’m questioning whatever stressful thought comes up. I’m not trying to control the process. I’m letting my experience of stress show me the thoughts I need to work. It’s just a matter of listening.

If I feel stress, I look for the thought, and write it down. It’s really that simple.

If it’s not simple for me, I need to do The Work on my motives before I continue doing The Work. Motives can be questioned just like any thought. For example:

I want to get rid of this thought.
I want to feel better.
I want to solve this problem.
I don’t want to write a worksheet on someone else.
I need to get back on my feet.
I need to have a breakthrough.
I want to find an insight.
I need it to work quickly.
I want The Work to help me.
I need to shift my perspective.
I need to change my behavior.
I need to get enlightened.

These kind of motives interfere with the innocent practice of The Work. By questioning them, I become more unbiased in my inquiry, and I stop putting so much pressure on myself to break through. The exploring mind works so much better when it’s not working under pressure.

Domination Over Nature Is Old Fashioned

In the old days, humans thought that mastering nature was the way to power. Knowledge of the laws of nature was used to gain control of nature and to manipulate it to do our bidding.

But the problem was that the limited mind of humans couldn’t think of all the repercussions, and there were always side effects. Now we take drugs to treat the side effects of other drugs. It’s a downward spiral.

This is the problem with manipulation. It is very short sighted. And that’s why the trend today is back towards allowing nature to create balance: joining nature, or stepping out of the way of nature, instead of trying to control it.

The Mind Is Nature

Just like any other part of nature, the mind can’t be controlled or manipulated very well. And when you’re doing The Work—inquiring into the truth—any motive to manipulate or control the outcome will stop the process cold.

You can’t look for the truth and try to control the outcome at the same time. It’s a conflict of interest. So I invite you to question your need to control the outcome, and come to The Work with the idea that truth itself is worth pursuing.

No matter how inconvenient the truth may be, no matter how scary, it always leads to the same place: freedom. That’s why I trust The Work as my way of getting at my truth. And I wait for the next stressful thought to find me, instead of trying to control which thought I question.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Are you inquiring with a motive? Are you asking the questions to assure yourself that the answer you already have is valid, even though it’s painful? Do you want to be right, or to prove something, more than you want the truth? It’s the truth that set me free—for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. Acceptance, peace, letting go, and less attachment to a world of suffering are all effects of doing The Work. They’re not goals. Do The Work for the love of freedom, for the love of truth. If you’re inquiring with other motives, such as healing the body or solving a problem, your answers may be arising from old motives that never worked, and you’ll miss the wonder and grace of inquiry.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is, Ch. 13.

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Recent Participant Reviews of The Work 101

tools

Deepen your experience using this simple tool of The Work

The Work 101 Is a Chance to Gain Confidence in Doing The Work

Here are some recent reviews from participants of The Work 101 course that just finished on October 20. Join us in January for the next course before it fills up.

“Well Recommended” – William

“This course was a great way for me to get clear about actually how to do The Work properly. Todd explains the technicalities of The Work and how to make sure you’re doing it properly in a technical way, for example making the turnarounds correctly.

“But the best knowledge I got was starting to learn how to be clear about doing The Work without motives and trying to use it to manipulate or change myself. I also got a lot more confident in my ability to do The Work, which I hadn’t been able to trust myself with before.

“There are so many nuances of The Work that get covered in the course and it gives such a clear and solid look at what The Work is and how to do it. What takes it to the next level is Todd’s presence and involvement, giving comments on your work and answering questions.

This course is absolutely wonderful if you notice that you’re having difficulties with certain parts of The Work, etc. Maybe even getting motivated to do it? It gets the momentum going and you get a place to build a strong ground to continue doing it yourself.”

“Such a Good Teacher” – Kathleen

“I have been doing the Work in fits and starts over the last 10 years. Whenever I did it, I experienced such a sense of clarity and joyfulness that I knew the Work would be an invaluable tool in my life.

“With The Work 101, Todd has created a vehicle that enhanced my understanding and appreciation of the Work. His understanding of the Work through personal experience is clear for all to see. He is willing to share his experience and in that sharing he shines a light on the Work in a way that clarifies it beautifully for me.

“The Work 101 deconstructs the steps of The Work of Byron Katie making it easily digestible and relevant. I felt supported at each and every step. Because one needs to do work every day on the course, it sets up a natural pattern of enquiry which will stay a part of my daily practice …it truly is meditation.

“The platform of the Work 101 is easy to navigate and, if anything is unclear, it is easy to go back to review the process. Todd is always available and responsive to the participants so I felt he was right alongside me as I did the Work.

“I enjoyed meeting others who were on the course and reading their worksheets and responses. It is always humbling and I learned from their sharing and helpful responses to each other and to me….a great community that I will miss.”

“Highly Recommended” – Liz

“I appreciate Todd’s compassion, patience, clarity, precision and detailed thoughtful responses to our questions. He has expertise in documenting and teaching the processes of The Work.

“The curriculum is thorough and includes video instruction as well as a pdf documents. All of the technical documents can be printed and kept for reference.

“I’ve been doing The Work for a few years and had not previously learned the technical aspects of The Work. After this course I feel more confident about facilitating. Todd’s course is a great value.”

“100% Recommended” – Marjie

“I got everything out of this course I needed to get the fire inside me to practice The Work really blazing.

“After doing it on my own and listening to podcasts here and there I knew I wanted a detailed, structured, accountable forum to do The Work In. This is it!

“Todd’s wealth of information and exercises are ideal for someone who is serious about learning the nitty gritty aspects of The Work. I felt supported, challenged and my knowledge increased 10-fold.

“If you are serious about diving in, this is the place to do it!”

“The Work 101” – Ty

“I just finished with The Work 101 facilitated by Todd. I learned things about my beliefs that I never knew I held. Throughout the class, I always felt I was in a safe environment to be vulnerable. The tools the class gave me are invaluable and I will continue to use them as I do more Inquiry but also in my daily interactions with people and events. The class was truly a gift to myself!”

“Love the work 101” – Maria

“I am so happy to have done the work 101. I had been doing the work for almost 1 year and 6 months, but in the last 6 weeks I felt I advanced from elementary to high school. Worth every penny. Will for sure recommend it to everyone that is serious about moving forward in their life.”

“The Best Way to Learn The Work” – Netsirk

“The Work 101 by Todd Smith is an excellent introduction to The Work. I’ve been doing the work for 7 years and found it so instructive. With all the tools offered—from seeing other people’s written work, writing your own work, partnering, videos, rapid replies to questions, etc.—it is well worth the time and money.

“For me writing worksheets and writing turnarounds is the crux of The Work. As Katie says, all war belongs on paper. In this forum you truly learn how to write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and how to get clear on the offense. You also learn how to do a One-Belief-at-a-Time Worksheet worksheet and learn about all the technical turnarounds possible.

“This thorough training made it so I can do The Work alone at 2am (as that’s the time when my most suffering thoughts seem to show up.) I recommend this course to anyone interested in The Work. I am so grateful for the time Todd put into this course as well as the experience I received learning exactly how to do The Work.”

“Awesome, Thorough, Delightful” – Zoe

“I lucked out on finding and starting Todd’s class The Work 101 just a few weeks after having listened to Byron Katie’s “Loving What Is” on Audible. I found Todd’s website through an internet search and squeezed in right before the deadline for the start of the course. I am so grateful I was able to get in.

“This is an amazing and thorough step-by-step exploration of The Work. It took me so much deeper into The Work than I could have guessed would be possible at the outset or that I know now I would have been able to do on my own.

“In addition, the support of the group participants and Todd’s and others’ valuable feedback helped me to go very deeply into some highly charged beliefs and start to turn them around. Can’t say enough about Todd’s insights, presence, organization and integrity. What a delight to meet and work with the others in the group as well.”

“Thorough Course for Both Beginners and Advanced Participants” – Caroline

“I am thankful for having done Todd’s course The Work 1-0-1. It was a thorough rehearsal of the method and all the tools included. Doing the Work every day in this forum was a pleasure. Todd took us all by the hand and supported us along the way. Being part of a group was a pleasure as well. Although the contact was digital I felt very close to my fellow participants.”

The Next Course Starts January 15, 2018

If you’re serious about going deeply into The Work, I’d love to see you there. https://www.theworkasmeditation.com/the-work-101/

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“The Work is merely four questions; it’s not even a thing. It has no motive, no strings. It’s nothing without your answers. These four questions will join any program you’ve got and enhance it. Any religion you have—they’ll enhance it. If you have no religion, they will bring you joy. And they’ll burn up anything that isn’t true for you. They’ll burn through to the reality that has always been waiting.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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abandoned building

If there’s smoke in the house, by all means open a window.

Venting Is Powerful

When a stressful event occurs, the emotions that arise can be overwhelming. If left on their own, the stressful emotions and thoughts can build on themselves in a vicious cycle. One way to break the cycle is by venting.

Venting can be done responsibly by getting the emotion out without doing more harm. And one of the most powerful ways to vent responsibly is to simply write free-form all of the angry, stressful, sad thoughts onto a blank piece of paper. And then throw it out.

I believe there have been something like 200 scientific papers written on the effectiveness venting in this way. I’ve even heard of people getting rid of back pain by simply writing like this.

And there are many ways to vent besides writing: admitting publicly, crying, even just feeling the pain and allowing it to release. Venting is a way to release and move on.

It Allows You to Breathe Again

But venting only goes so far. In my experience, it does not deal with the root cause of the suffering. And if situations conspire again, the mind can easily get caught in the same vicious cycle again.

If there is smoke in the house, opening a window allows me to breathe again. But unless I put out the fire, the smoke will keep coming—even if the window is open.

When I question my stressful thinking by doing The Work of Byron Katie, I can often put out the fire completely. And then it’s done.

The Work Combines Venting and Inquiry

The first part of The Work is identifying stressful thoughts. This includes writing down all of the stressful, emotionally charged thoughts onto paper. This alone is powerful as a kind of venting. I can’t tell how many times I’ve written a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and felt better just for writing it.

But venting is just the first part of The Work. The real power lies in questioning each statement that I write. When I investigate with the four questions and turnarounds, I often find that what I thought was fire was not fire at all. I had fooled myself into a panic.

When I see the truth, it all falls away. That is the power of inquiry.

That’s Why I Love The Work

It feels like the ultimate in self-love. I allow my stuck parts to speak up, vent themselves, and be heard. And then I question everything to see if I can find the truth.

The more I question my stressful stories, the more they tend to unravel. And when they have unraveled, there is no need to suffer from them again.

For me, venting cleans up the immediate mess, but inquiry prevents future messes from happening.

Venting Is Still the First Step for Me

It is a life saver compared to bottling it up and pretending everything is fine, or wallowing in the pain. But I don’t stop with venting. I like to remove the very need for venting by questioning the thoughts that give rise to all of the emotions I need to vent.

Have a great week,
Todd

“…I’ll ask the child to close her eyes, talk to the monster face-to-face, and let the monster tell her what he’s doing under the bed and what he really wants from her. I’ll ask her just to let the monster talk, and to listen and tell me what the monster said. I’ve done this with a dozen children afraid of monsters or ghosts. They always report something kind, such as, “He says he’s lonely” or “He just wants to play” or “He wants to be with me.” At this point, I can ask them, “Sweetheart, ‘There’s a monster under your bed’—is that true?” And they usually look at me with a kind of knowing amusement that I would believe such a ridiculous thing. There’s a lot of laughter. This is the end of the child’s nightmare.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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graffiti

If you find that someone put graffiti on your wall, how do you treat them?

This Question Seems Strange at First

Someone spray paints your wall, you feel stress, and you want do The Work. So you write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on the person who did it. Line 1 sounds something like this, “I am furious with them because they damaged my property.” And the part you’re questioning is “They damaged my property.”

Does the subquestion, “How do you treat them?” have any meaning here?

(This is a subquestion for question 3 of The Work. You can find all of the subquestions for question 3 on the One-Belief-at-a-Time Worksheet.)

At First you Might Think That This Question Is Not Relevant

You might think, “I’m not treating that person at all. They aren’t even here. How could I treat someone one way or the other if I don’t even know who they are?”

But this is just a limited way of thinking about the question. How I treat someone doesn’t have to be restricted to what I physically do or say. How I treat them can also include how I treat them in my mind.

For example, when I think “They damaged my property,” I might call them names, “Stupid! Low down! Scum!” Without ever saying a word to them, I have just treated them quite badly in my mind.

How I Treat Them in my Mind Counts

The Work is only about my internal experience.

And when I call someone stupid in my mind, it affects my internal experience. I feel constricted inside. It hurts me to treat someone badly, even in my mind.

It is merely circumstance that they were not around for me to yell at them. My intention was to yell. So the deed is as good as done.

Same thing if I wanted to hurt them, punish them, make them suffer. Just wanting revenge can be included in “how I treat them,” even if I don’t actually take revenge. Just seeing them as the enemy instead of as another human being can also be a part of how I treat them.

This Question Shows Me How Low Down I Can Be

I may keep my mouth shut. It may never be seen. But, if I’m reacting by insulting, hurting, or punishing someone, even in my mind, I am just as low as I think they are.

This question helps me see that. It helps level the playing field.

It shows me how I create my own stress, my own internal suffering, by attacking them in my mind.

When I See This, My Attachment to my Belief Loosens

I start to notice that the damage they did to my property pales in comparison to the damage I’m doing to myself as I mentally rage against them.

The Work is just about noticing. I start to notice what I am doing to them in my mind, and how it’s causing me pain. And in doing so, I just found the real cause of my suffering: not them but me.

With this new understanding, I’m now much more open to continue to question 4 and the turnarounds.

Subquestions Are Always Optional

I very often find the subquestion, “How do you treat them?” to be relevant. Sometimes, “how I treat them” is nothing more than putting more distance between them and me. It can be very subtle.

But like all other subquestions for question 3, there are times when “How do you treat them?” doesn’t make any sense. If that’s the case, there’s no need to use it.

Subquestions are always optional.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“Question 3: How do you react when you think that thought? With this question, we begin to notice internal cause and effect. You can see that when you believe the thought (and it’s okay to believe it), there is an uneasy feeling, a disturbance that can range from mild discomfort to fear or panic. Since you may have realized from question 1 that the thought isn’t even true for you, you’re looking at the power of a lie. Your nature is truth, and when you oppose it, you don’t feel like yourself. Stress never feels as natural as peace does.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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The Danger of Questioning Certain One-Liners

apples

If I want an apple, and I think, “I shouldn’t have an apple,” and then I question “I shouldn’t have an apple,” I can end up using The Work to justify taking one.

The Work Is Not About Justifying

The work is about taking responsibility. it is about coming back to integrity. But even The Work can be misused by the mind.

This happens most commonly when people are new to The Work, and most most especially when people are working one-liners in a free-form way. This is one reason why Byron Katie invites us to use the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet as the primary way for identifying stressful thoughts to question. This problem doesn’t come up much when you’re using the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.

But when you’re working one-liners free-form, the mind can try to reverse-engineer things, or more commonly, step innocently into this trap.

This “Trap” Is Basically a Form of Spinning

Let’s go back to the apple analogy.

I want an apple, but I know it doesn’t belong to me. I’d have to get permission from the owner of the orchard to feel completely clear about taking the apple that I want.

That is integrity speaking. And sometimes integrity sounds like this, “I shouldn’t have the apple.” But the mind hears that and thinks, “This is a stressful thought. I should work it.”

So I question, “I shouldn’t have the apple,” and I end up turning it around to “I should have the apple.” And I end up justifying my taking the apple without permission, i.e. stealing it.

How Is This Spinning?

First of all, it’s spinning by the feeling it creates. It feels like the opposite of taking responsibility and being in my integrity. It does not match the spirit of The Work.

But secondly, on a more technical side, it is spinning because I’m basically turning around a “turnaround.” The mind forgets that the original statement was “I want an apple.” And before even doing The Work, the mind had already turned it around to “I shouldn’t have the apple.” This the natural balancing system coming into play within the mind.

So when I take the “turnaround,” “I shouldn’t have the apple” and do The Work on it, I’m basically turning around a turnaround, which brings me back to pretty much the same place where I started: “I want an apple, so I should have it.”

That’s why it’s a spin. It brings me back to where I started. You can always feel a spin because it doesn’t feel quite right.

It’s Not a Problem when You Have Experience

When you have experience doing The Work, you can question anything. You can question a turnaround of a turnaround and not get stuck in the mud. Because you are familiar with the spirit of The Work, which is about coming back to yourself, to your own truth.

And you also know that just because you question something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not true. You can go anywhere when you’re clear about that.

When I’m holding the spirit of The Work, I can come across all kinds of strange turnarounds of turnarounds and they don’t throw me. I use my feelings to stay upright as I find my way through. There is a lot of freedom in this because there is nothing I cannot question.

For example, if I question, “I shouldn’t have the apple,” and I turn it around to “I should have the apple,” I can get really clear that there really are no shoulds in my life. I really am free. I can take the apple if I want—if for no other reason than to feel what it feels like to take something without asking. Crossing that boundary could be the best teacher I could ever have because chances are I would feel it as soon as I did it.

This takes the absolutes out of it. There is no right or wrong. There is only what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. Maybe stealing works for me but, if I notice a bad feeling inside when I steal, then maybe it doesn’t work for me. Or if I end up in jail, then maybe it doesn’t work for me. But throughout this grand experiment, I’m clear that there is no right or wrong, no should. This awareness comes from questioning “I shouldn’t have an apple.”

But When You’re New, This Can Be Confusing

In fact, whether new to The Work or experienced, I find it much more valuable to question the original want. I’ve never met a stress that didn’t contain a want: “I want an apple.”

Why bother with questioning, “I shouldn’t have the apple,” when I can question the original stressful thought, “I want an apple,” or “I need an apple”? The turnarounds for this statement lead me back home to the place of no needs, contentment, freedom, balance: “I don’t need/want an apple.”

And, ironically, this kind of work leads me a place of more willingness to go through the proper channels to get anything I think I want. After questioning, “I want an apple,” I’m not so desperate to have it, and I have more presence of mind to walk up to the orchard owner and ask if I can have one.

I Invite You to Keep It Simple

Question your motives (your wants and needs). Don’t question your observations and insights so much (which tend to be turnarounds already). You can question anything, but if you stick with questioning your judgments about other people and things, and your motives in your life, you’ll be on solid ground as you do your work.

This is especially important if you’re dealing with any kind of addiction. Because the mind is expert at justifying taking the next hit. And it will be happy to use The Work to justify continuing the addiction.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I strongly suggest that if you are new to inquiry, you not write about yourself at first. If you start by judging yourself, your answers come with a motive and with solutions that haven’t worked. Judging someone else, then inquiring and turning it around, is the direct path to understanding. You can judge yourself later, when you have been doing inquiry long enough to trust the power of truth.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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Japanese maple

As a photographer, if I thought, “Yeah, yeah, red leaves. I’ve seen this before,” I’d never experience the beauty nor take the photograph.

The Mind Is Expert at Getting Out of Work

And one of its favorite excuses is “I’ve seen this before.”

This is a clever way of discrediting any insights that may be coming up when doing The Work. Another phrase for the same excuse is, “Boring!” or “This is repetitive.”

But these are nothing but lame excuses.

The Work Is Not About Being Ingeniously Creative

When doing The Work, you don’t have to come up with clever new ways of spinning things. You don’t have to come up with examples that are brand new—never been seen before—to do powerful work.

Just like you don’t have to come up with brand new rattlesnake antivenom every time you get bitten by a rattlesnake. You just use the same boring old rattlesnake antivenom and it does its job.

Turnarounds Are like Antivenom

It’s not my creative prowess that makes them work. Its the simple fact that they are the precise medicine needed to balance my original statement. All I need to do to make it work is let the antivenom come in contact with the venom.

As the original stressful thought and the turnaround soak into each other they cancel each other out, just like venom and antivenom.

Good Things Happen When You Let Things Soak In

When you give a turnaround time, you may find old examples for the turnaround coming up. Stuff you’ve seen before. You may find new examples too. But before you discredit the old ones, let them soak in.

Just because you’ve seen a turnaround example before, doesn’t mean that the stuck part inside of you has seen it—especially in this new situation. In fact, that stuck part must not have seen it yet, otherwise it wouldn’t be so stuck.

And my having seen it before in other situations is totally irrelevant. It’s like saying to a dying snake bite victim, “Antivenom you say? Oh yeah, good idea, but I’ve used that before. I guess there’s not much we’re going to be able to do for you.”

I Invite You to Be a Boring Doctor

Willing to use the same medicine again and again for as long as it is needed.

Or if you want to be more romantic, be an artist or a poet when you do your work. Keep painting the same old flowers but find new beauty in them each time you paint them.

Didn’t Monet paint the same old haystacks hundreds of times? I wouldn’t call any of his works boring. In fact, what makes them amazing is the depth that he was able to access by doing the same thing over and over again.

I’ve been doing The Work work over 10 years, and there still are surprises, but there are also lots of things I’ve seen before. Only now I see them even more clearly and more deeply, and they are becoming second nature to me.

But I still let them soak in when my turnarounds call for them. That’s how I keep deepening the balance that is growing in me.

To me, that is exciting. Not boring.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“The four questions and turnaround of The Work will take you as deep as you want to go.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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The World of One-Liners

grapes

Stressful thoughts come in bunches, just like grapes.

One Thought Is Enough to Get Started

When I first started doing The Work in 2007, I didn’t use the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. For three years, all I did was pick one thought to work each time I sat to do The Work. I simply scanned my experience and identified a thought that was bothering me.

This is called working a “one-liner”—a single thought to question.

In 2010, when I was at Turnaround House, I discovered the power of the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. Instead of identifying one thought to question, I could identify many related thoughts on one worksheet.

I learned how to go deeply into one stressful moment and identify each part of my stressful story to write on each line of the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. This really deepened my work.

Today I mainly use the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. I find it to be a very powerful way of identifying my stressful thoughts to work.

But I Do Not Exclusively Use the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet

I find that some thoughts do not fit into a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. And for those, I still use the one-liner approach.

For example, sometimes I simply need to question a motive that is causing me stress. I used this a couple of years ago when I questioned the thought, “I want to make a living as a facilitator.” This thought was not about a neighbor, so the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet wasn’t appropriate. So I questioned it as a simple one-liner.

However, there were related worksheets that I wrote. For example, I wrote a worksheet on Katie in a specific situation when she invited me to “not make a living as a facilitator.” My worksheet on her covered things that my one-liner did not. Also, I wrote a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on my mom who wanted me to be “successful.”

So I Find That’s It’s a Little of Both

Sometimes I write Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets and find additional one-liners to question. Other times I start by questioning one-liners and find Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets that I can write.

With both approaches, I can cover any topic.

And I Also Write Clusters of One-Liners

Most commonly, these come out as lists of one-liners. I might write a list of my fears for doing something. Or a list of reasons why I can’t do something. Or a list of complaints about a situation that I’m in.

And when I want to go even deeper, I use the following prompts to find even more one-liners to add to my list.

1. And it means that…
2. What are all the reasons why I think it’s true? (list of proof)
3. What am I wanting here?

For example, if I wrote a one-liner, “I’m not a good facilitator,” I can question this one-liner directly. But I can also use the prompts above to come up with additional stressful thoughts to question.

I can use the prompt, “And it means that…”

I’m not a good facilitator and it means that:

I won’t have many clients.
People will talk about me.
I have to hide my head in shame.

Or I can use the prompt, “What are all the reasons why I think it’s true? (list of proof):

I’m not a good facilitator because:

I don’t interrupt people quickly enough when they step out of The Work.
Not everyone I work with is satisfied.
I don’t always follow the script.

Or I can use the prompt, “What am I wanting here?”

I want to be a good facilitator.
I want others to praise me.
I want Katie to approve of me.
I want to help people.

As You Can See, I’ve Gathered a Cluster of One-Liners

So even when I’m not using the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, I can find a group of related stressful thoughts to question. When I question all of them, I am giving thorough treatment to all of the different facets of my story.

You can find more prompts and ways of finding additional related one-liners in chapter 5 of Loving What Is.

Have a great week,
Todd

“A powerful way of prompting yourself is to add “and it means that _____” to your original statement. Your suffering may be caused by a thought that interprets what happened, rather than the thought you wrote down. This additional phrase prompts you to reveal your interpretation of the fact.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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Fixing Myself vs. Self-Inquiry

light on ripples

My inner world is a mix of light and dark, clarity and confusion.

The Part of Me That Is Clear Wants to Fix the Part of Me That Is Confused

In this paradigm, things are broken or fixed, black or white, capable or not. This is the world of the strong helping the weak, and the weak depending on the strong. It is the paradigm of codependence.

And I’m not talking about external codependence. I’m talking about the strong, clear parts of me trying to fix the weak, confused parts of me. It’s total codependence on the inside. And of course, this carries over onto codependence on external teachers, friends, and professionals as well.

But That Is Not the Paradigm of Self-Inquiry

Self-inquiry does not care about fixing. “Fixing” assumes that the parts that need fixing are not strong enough to take care of themselves. Fixing assumes that some kind of intervention is needed because the weak parts need help—they can’t do it on their own.

Self-inquiry is just the opposite.

Self-inquiry assumes that each part of me is wise, even the stuck parts, even the confused parts. Self-inquiry does not impose any kind of intervention on the weak parts of me; it invites the confused parts to speak, with no motive to change them.

Self-inquiry assumes that there is some intelligence behind the stuckness. And it wants to hear it. And it also assumes that the solution to any problem lies within the problem itself. So it invites the stuck part to first of all be heard, and secondly to unravel the problem itself.

This Is the End of Codependence

Through The Work of Byron Katie, which is a form of self-inquiry, my weak parts are literally being given the space and the tools to become strong. That’s why it feels so empowering.

It is not fixing, or snipping, or deleting, or suppressing. The Work says, “Hey, I hear you shouting down there. Sounds like you’re in pain. What’s going on?”

It is listening. That is a huge part of it right there. But it’s more than listening, it is handing down the tools to the stuck part so that it can unstick itself, and allowing as much time as it needs in order to do so, even if it never gets there.

But if You’re a Fixer, You Can Miss Self-Inquiry

Being a fixer means trying to be in control, trying to dominate, or use some kind of force to override the problem. This gives a superficial solution at best. And results are temporary. It also leads to self-attack when the stuck parts don’t cooperate.

It’s easy to end up “trying to fix” just out of sheer force of habit—even when doing The Work. But it’s easy to spot. First, you’ll notice a resistance. Then a resentment if you are trying to force wisdom on yourself. This is not self-inquiry. This is pure “fixing” in the guise of doing The Work. If there’s even the slightest desire to fix myself while doing The Work, it hampers the process.

The reason for this is that the stuck part that is crying inside senses the bully “wise” part that wants to fix it. And it closes down even further. Whereas, if there is no desire to fix the stuck part when doing The Work, the stuck part feels safe to stand up and tell it’s story, and even to explore how the very opposite of what it thinks could be as true.

So Treat Your Stuck Parts Like Grownups

Stuck parts have feelings. Stuck parts have wisdom. If you’re really open to self-inquiry, with no motive to fix or delete, and no sense of superiority looking down on those stuck parts, those confused parts could become your greatest teachers. And they can literally blossom in the light of self-inquiry.

That is what The Work is all about: giving the stuck parts their day. The weak become strong. And as they say, the stone that was discarded could become the cornerstone.

To me, this is what self-respect looks like. That’s why I love self-inquiry.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“Are you inquiring with a motive? Are you asking the questions to assure yourself that the answer you already have is valid, even though it’s painful? Do you want to be right, or to prove something, more than you want the truth? It’s the truth that set me free—for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. Acceptance, peace, letting go, and less attachment to a world of suffering are all effects of doing The Work. They’re not goals. Do The Work for the love of freedom, for the love of truth. If you’re inquiring with other motives, such as healing the body or solving a problem, your answers may be arising from old motives that never worked, and you’ll miss the wonder and grace of inquiry.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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Turning Around Today’s Newsletter

tugboat

A tug boat helps turn this ship around.

Today Let’s Turn Things Around

Instead of sharing with you my insights about The Work and life in general today, I invite you to share your recent insights with me.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I am always the student. I love to be in that position, bowing, listening, at the feet of all that I see. This doesn’t require an open mind: it is the open mind. It never has to take responsibility for knowing or for not knowing. It receives everything without defense, without judgment, since judgment would cost it everything it is. The moment you think you’re someone or think you have something to teach, the inner world freezes and becomes the realm of illusion. That’s what it costs when you identify yourself as the person who knows. It’s a concoction of mind. You shrink down into the teacher: limited, separate, stuck.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

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