How to Question General Beliefs

whirlpool galaxy

If you want to learn about all of the stars, pick one to study deeply.

Humans Love to Make Generalizations

This is what we call understanding.

We collect several points of data, and generalize from there to come up with a theory of how things are. Once we have come to our conclusion, we pretty much take it for granted until something seriously challenges that theory.

This is how my beliefs are formed and maintained. And I often become blind to new data because it’s easier to just stick with the theory I have. After all, I already understand.

Theories, or Beliefs, Are Fine until they Stop Working

In my personal life, beliefs stop working when they cause me stress. Stress, or emotional pain, is the sign that my belief is not working for me. I’m missing something, and I need to look again at what I’m believing.

This looking again is done in The Work of Byron Katie by identifying a stressful thought and questioning it. This process of questioning a belief, and finding evidence for the turnarounds (opposites), is the process of deconstructing that belief.

It Is the Same Process of Making a Generalization, But in Reverse

In generalizing, or coming up with a belief, I start with a few specific experiences and construct a theory based on those data points.

In The Work, which is the deconstruction of a belief, I go back to each point of data upholding my general theory and question it. If the original data points are not true, the whole theory falls.

That’s why The Work deals with specifics so much. If you want to question a general theory, question a specific instance of it. Specifics are what hold up general theories.

It Doesn’t Matter How You’re Working It

You could be using the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet or the One-Belief-at-a-Time Worksheet to identify the thoughts you want to question.

The principle is the same: If you try to work it in general, it may be difficult. But if you can find a specific situation as a reference point for your work, chances are you’ll be pulling the rug out from under your general theory with little effort.

So How Do You Do This?

There are two main ways to get specific:

  1. Let life show you.
  2. Look for a specific instance.

In the first approach, life will inevitably bring you a situation that is stressful. You don’t have to plan for it at all. No need to sleuth it out. No need to strategize. Just show up, and let life find the specific situations for you to work. Life is an endless supply of specific situations.

I’ve come to really trust this approach. It keeps me always working within specific situations. And I find that without any planning or extra work my biggest theories come falling down.

The Second Approach Is Different

In this approach, I start with a larger Issue, a theory, and work backwards to find specifics.

Maybe I want to work on money. That’s a broad topic. Maybe I know I have money issues. Maybe I have a general belief that money is bad. I can work the general belief that money is bad, but I often find that doing this is too vague.

I don’t even know what I mean by “money is bad.” It’s too general to get very far with it.

Instead, I look for a specific instance when I had the thought that money is bad. For example, I can remember working for a big hotel one summer as a groundskeeper making $7/hour where guests were paying $500-2000/night to stay there.

And I Can Get More Specific

I can remember my boss telling me that someone sued the hotel because they tripped on a slight bump in the sidewalk. I can still feel my nearly three-decade-old rage against the person who sued rather than take responsibility for looking where they walked.

That’s a great Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet for me about “money” in a really specific situation. That incident, that image, has been a reference point for me for all of my life. It upholds my general theory that money is bad. And when I work it, chances are my theory will start to weaken.

That is how I zoom in to study just one reference point. And I can continue finding other specific situations related to money and question the stressful thoughts contained in them as well. If I work more data points like this, the whole story that “money is bad” may have nothing left to hold it up.

That is the value of using specifics to gain leverage in working any general theory.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“Often beneath the judgments we’ve written lie other thoughts. These may be thoughts that we’ve believed for years and that we use as our fundamental judgments of life. In most cases, we haven’t ever questioned them. I call these thoughts “underlying beliefs.” These beliefs are broader or more general versions of our stories. Some underlying beliefs may expand a judgment of an individual to include an entire group of people. Some are judgments about life that may not sound like judgments at all. But if you notice that you feel stress when you become aware of these beliefs, they may be worth investigating.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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Another Ancient Text Describes The Work

temple tree

The mind hasn’t changed much over the millennia.

I Love Reading Ancient Spiritual Texts

Just like I love reading modern spiritual texts. Because the message is pretty much always the same: come back to yourself.

I just love hearing all the thousands of ways it can be said. And all the thousands of ways it can be done.

The Other Night I Read This One

It’s from Vasishtha’s Yoga, an ancient Indian treatise on enlightenment. There are many times when I’m reading a book like this that I’m reminded of The Work of Byron Katie, but this quote was a particularly clear description of The Work for me:

“When the thought, ‘This is pleasure’ is confronted by the thought ‘This is not’, they both perish. I remain in that peace that survives this.”

This Is the Balance that Turnarounds Bring

If I was doing The Work on the thought, “This is pleasure,” the turnaround to the opposite would be, “This is not pleasure.” Neither one is completely true. But each describes one side of it.

If I was believing only one side, the turnaround gives me a chance to find truth in the other side.

Together they balance each other so completely as to cancel each other out. And what remains is peace.

This Is What I Do Every Day When I Do The Work

I start with one thought. And I question it and find turnarounds and examples.

And each time I do, I get another taste of this balance. The idea that I was taking for granted becomes mute. And it ceases to have power over me.

I love the way turnarounds balance out my beliefs, and open up my heart.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“Inquiry is more than a technique: It brings to life, from deep within us, an innate aspect of our being. When practiced for a while, inquiry takes on its own life within you. It appears whenever thoughts appear, as their balance and mate. This internal partnership leaves you clear and free to live as a kind, fluid, fearless, amused listener, a student of yourself, and a friend who can be trusted not to resent, criticize, or hold a grudge. Eventually, realization is experienced automatically, as a way of life. Peace and joy naturally, inevitably, and irreversibly make their way into every corner of your mind, into every relationship and experience. The process is so subtle that you may not even have any conscious awareness of it. You may only know that you used to hurt and now you don’t.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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aspens by the river in autumn

Looking forward to fall.

I’m Happy to Announce Two Pieces of News

The first news is that scholarships are now available for private sessions. Until now, I did not offer scholarships for private sessions.

The logic I have used up until now is that I offer many other inexpensive and free ways to do The Work. So even if someone can’t afford to do a private session with me, they can take advantage of Open Sessions, The Work 101, Inquiry Circle, etc.

But I realize that there is a unique value in private sessions. Some people don’t do well in groups. Some people just prefer one-on-one privacy. Some people prefer a less structured way of working than in a classroom situation. And some people just like the support of working with an experienced facilitator privately.

So Why Exclude Anyone Based on Income?

As of now, I’m opening up this service to everyone. The cost of private sessions will remain at $100/hour. And those who would like to apply for scholarships can contact me personally.

Of course, scheduling will still be a limiting factor, as my calendar is quite full. But now money does not have to be a reason not to work with me. Also, payment plans are available on request.

You can sign up for private sessions here.

The Second Announcement Is The Work 101 Course in September

Earlier this summer, I announced that the next Work 101 course would not be until January. Since then, my schedule has changed and I am now offering the course starting the day after Labor Day, Sep 5.

The course is seven weeks in total, including the orientation week. The inclusive dates are Sep 5 – Oct 20, 2017.

The Work 101 Is Designed to Solidify Your Work

It has two purposes:

  1. To develop all of the skills needed to do The Work with confidence.
  2. To culture a habit of doing The Work on an almost daily basis.

If you are new to The Work, come learn The Work. If you are experienced with The Work, join me in going deeply into it.

The Work 101 is the prerequisite for joining Inquiry Circle, my ongoing practice group for doing The Work. Even if you have done The School for The Work, or are a Certified Facilitator of The Work, this is an opportunity to dive deeply with me into The Work of Byron Katie.

And it’s an opportunity to start a steady, ongoing practice of The Work.

Learn more about The Work 101 here. It is an online course that works in any time zone. I hope to see you in September.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Money is not my business; my thinking is my business. I don’t have any other business.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

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snow scene

If I’m turning around “It is cold” to “It is not cold,” I can find examples outside of the situation (it’s not cold in the tropics right now), or I can find examples within the situation (it’s not cold inside my jacket). Examples from within the situation tend to be more powerful for me.

Finding Turnaround Examples Is an Art

When you look for turnaround examples, you’re looking for evidence to support the turnaround. Without evidence, the turnaround is just words. It has no weight. Examples are what ground a turnaround to earth.

But Not All Turnaround Examples Are Created Equal

First of all, a turnaround example has to be genuine for the person doing The Work (me). I can’t fake turnaround examples because I can never fully buy my own fake. This includes using spiritual ideas, or even Byron Katie’s examples, if they are not fully rooted in my own experience.

Secondly, turnaround examples have to be on point. If the turnaround examples wander into a completely different topic, they may not have much power as examples for this turnaround.

Finally, turnaround examples tend to be most powerful for me when they are found within the original stressful situation.

Here’s An Example

This is from a participant in The Work 101. With his permission, I share it with you. It is a really clear example of the difference between looking for examples outside of the situation and looking for examples within the situation.

His situation: his son texted saying that he had lost the family’s PS4 (PlayStation 4) in a “deal.” He wanted him to call the other person’s father to get it back.

He wrote a whole worksheet on this situation. Here, we just zoom in on one statement from Line 5: “He is self-centered.”

Here Is the Turnaround to the Opposite

“He is self-centered” becomes “He is not self-centered.” And here are the examples he found for this turnaround:

  1. He is very sensitive to what is going on around him and to any sense of conflict between others or himself and others.
  2. He tries to be fair.
  3. He likes to help other people out.

These are all genuine examples of the turnaround, “He is not self-centered,” and they help provide some balance. But all of these examples are from outside of the situation, and are somewhat general.

Here’s what he came up with when he looked for examples within the situation:

  1. He was and is very concerned about getting the PS4 back and the negative impact not having it has on us (actually more concerned than we are about this).
  2. He appears to have tried hard to get it returned.
  3. He was and is sorry about the impact on us.

These examples are much more specific and are more connected to this particular situation. Notice how these examples really paint a clear picture of how he is not self-centered even in that situation.

In fact, you could even get closer to the situation. For example, how is he not self-centered in the moment when he sent the text? (He was selflessly exposing his mistake.) Or how was he not self-centered in the moment when he took the PS4? (Maybe he thought he wouldn’t lose it.)

Just looking looking for examples within the situation can be a powerful exercise.

Here’s the Turnaround to the Self

The original statement, “He is self-centered” becomes “I am self-centered” when turned around to the self. Here are the examples he found:

  1. I often “cannot see the forest for the trees” as I am caught up in my story (perceptions, feelings, problems, etc.).
  2. When stressed or being criticized I often feel like everyone is against me.
  3. I am often very preoccupied and missing out on what is going on with other people.

These are all genuine examples of the turnaround, “I am self-centered,” and they provide balance too. But again, all of these examples are from outside of the situation, and are somewhat general.

Here’s what he came up with when he looked for examples within the situation:

  1. I was very concerned about having to deal with this issue and quite put off by having to do so.
  2. I was not sensitive to his distress.
  3. I tried to ignore and not deal with the situation any more than I had to.

These examples are much more specific and are grounded in the original situation. Because of this, they tend to balance the perspective even more powerfully than the first three examples.

Try It Out Yourself

Try looking for examples outside of the situation and within the situation as you do your work. Which ones land most powerfully for you?

I usually start by looking for examples within the situation. If I can’t find any examples within the situation, I move out from the situation and look there. Sometimes, I find some very powerful examples outside of the situation. So it can be worth exploring both.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“Be willing to go inside with each turnaround you discover, and experience where or how it’s as true as or truer than the original statement. How does it apply to you in your life? Own it. If that seems difficult for you, add the word “sometimes” to the turnaround. Can you own that it’s true sometimes, even if only in the moment that you are thinking that it’s true about the other?” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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There’s a Want Behind Every Stress

strawberries

If I want a strawberry but can’t have it, I feel stress.

Here’s a Simple Way to Do The Work

Find a stressful situation and ask yourself, “What am I wanting?” Then write down your wants and question them using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

If I feel stress, I’m wanting something to be different than the way it is. All I have to do is identify that want and question it in order to I come back to peace.

It Really Is that Simple

Even if I fill in a full Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, it’s just a more detailed version of writing down my wants.

For example, Line 2: “I want them to _____.” Line 3: “They should/n’t _____.” Line 4: “I need them to ______.”

“I need” and “They should” are basically variations on “I want.”

So Look for the Want (or Need)

Sometimes my wants are about someone else. That’s when I use a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet to write them down.

And sometimes my wants don’t involve a person at all, or don’t fit the worksheet. That’s when I write my wants as one-liners or underlying beliefs.

One way or the other, I write my wants down and question them.

Test It Out and Let Me Know what you Find

A life without wants is a peaceful life.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Without a motive, the pain disappears.” Byron Katie. Question Your Thinking, Change The World.

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How to Do The Work on Busy Life Stress

leaves

If I want to look at every leaf, I can end up overwhelming myself.

Life Is Full of Great Things

There’s no end of things to learn, things to experience, places to visit, people to know. Just being curious and open to life exposes me to an infinite number of different directions I can take. And many times I want to take them all.

That’s when it becomes stressful. I want to take each direction to its endpoint, and there are just too many directions. So I freeze, unable to start in even one direction. Or I feel frustrated as I try to do the impossible and split my time into smaller and smaller pieces in order to do it all.

How Can I Use The Work to Regain Balance?

The first place to start is to notice my emotion. That’s always the starting point for The Work. For me, the feeling is frustration that I don’t have enough time to do it all. And more importantly to me, not enough time to do it all well.

So that’s the general emotion. Frustration. How do I get from the emotion to some statements I can question using The Work?

The first step for me is to narrow it down to a specific situation. If I can land somewhere concrete, it can really help me do The Work.

Here Are Some Concrete Examples

As I look over my experience recently, I can find several moments when I felt a little frustrated over not having enough time to do it all: wanting to learn several different languages; wanting more time for yoga, meditation, reading, and sleep; and at work wanting to have more time for administration, web development, writing, private sessions, course development, etc.

These are still pretty broad results from my initial brainstorming. Let me pick just one of these areas to zoom into: the learning languages example will do. It’s not a huge deal for me, but it is stressful. And it can be a great platform for exploring this issue for me.

The Next Stage Is Narrowing It Down

I started learning Norwegian last December and kept with it for 20-30 min/day through May. I was starting to gain some momentum. But I also wanted to learn French. So I stopped studying Norwegian and started with French for the past two months.

How do I find one specific moment as a landing place for doing The Work? I often use these questions to help me narrow it down:

  • When did I most recently get stressed by this? (When I saw a Norwegian friend last week with whom I had talked about practicing Norwegian.)
  • When was the first time it came up? (Last December when I changed my original plan of studying French and went to Norwegian instead.)
  • Was there a particularly strong moment that stands out? (The moment I stopped studying Norwegian in May. Also, the moment I originally changed my mind from studying French to Norwegian back in December—I remember “giving my word” that I would study French during the Sahara trip last October.)

Now, It’s Getting Pretty Granular

And interestingly, some relationship issues are coming into focus in addition to my general beliefs that there is not enough time.

I could question, “I don’t have enough time to study both languages, is it true?” Or, “I want to study both languages, is it true?” But I could also zoom in further into one of these stressful moments.

Zooming in makes it even more specific. For example, let me look at the moment last week when I saw the friend with whom I had talked about practicing Norwegian. That is a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet:

  1. I feel ashamed with her because she is disappointed with me.
  2. I want her to be understanding of me.
    I want her to like me.
  3. She should see that there is not enough time to do everything.
    She should remind me that’s not all or nothing.
    She should say, “Let’s meet anyway.”
  4. I need her to not hold me to what I said (that I’d practice with her).
    I need her to say, “This doesn’t have to be an ongoing thing.”
    I need her to say, “I understand when priorities change.”
    I need her to say, “Let’s do it when you study Norwegian again.”
  5. She is judging me, disappointed, feeling let down.
  6. I don’t ever want to not be able to keep a promise again.

As you can see, a big part of this issue is about me keeping my word and not wanting to disappoint anyone. That’s what charges it for me.

I actually gave my word to two different people: to one that I would study French, and to the other that I would study Norwegian. No wonder it’s stressful. It’s not just the lack of time, it’s the possibility of disappointing others that is fueling my stress.

That’s why I like the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet so much. It often comes down to relationship stuff. When I deal with that, the more global issue of not having enough time to do it all, tends to weaken and fade.

And, of course, I can still work my more general stressful thoughts about time. But when I deal with specific situations and the relationships within them, I often get to see things that I would miss if I only worked the one-liners that first came to mind.

Have a great weekend,
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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house

Do you keep a tenant that is not paying rent? It depends on you.

The Work Helps Me Find My Truth

It doesn’t tell me what to do.

Sometimes, the stressful situations that I bring to The Work involve making some kind of decision. I’m confused and don’t know what to do. And I feel stressed, so I bring it to The Work.

Doing The Work helps me take responsibility for my own happiness no matter what situation I find myself in. It helps me question my beliefs and misunderstandings, and often find new options in situations that seem impossible.

But just because I find a turnaround while doing The Work, doesn’t mean that I am obligated to “follow” it. All I’m looking for in doing The Work is my truth. And I can recognize my deepest truth by the way it makes my internal conflict go away.

Here’s An Example

Someone was recently doing The Work on her adult daughter who was living at home with an agreement to pay rent. But she wasn’t paying it. The statement from her Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet was: “She should pay me rent.”

When she got to the turnaround to the opposite, “She should not pay me rent,” she found some examples. But she did not feel peaceful about the turnaround because she still felt strongly that her daughter should pay the rent.

It could be that there were more examples for the turnaround waiting to be found. Or it could be that both the turnaround and the original statement are true.

The Turnaround Is Just One Side of It

The original statement that “she should pay rent” can still make sense—even if there is truth in the turnaround that “she should not pay rent.” In this case, there may be a balance of opposites.

If I hold a turnaround this way, I can often find a deeper truth that encompasses both sides.

For example, the turnaround, “She should not pay me rent,” could be about why it’s understandable that she doesn’t pay rent. It’s a chance to put myself in her shoes. Maybe she’s not making enough money, maybe she doesn’t know how to budget, maybe the agreement was never clear to her, maybe she has resistance to paying something she never had to pay before. All this can give more understanding and compassion for her.

But it doesn’t mean I have to be a doormat because of this newfound compassion. I may still find truth in the idea that she should pay rent. It’s an invitation to expand my mind to see if I can hold both sides.

I Might Agree with the Turnaround

I might see that it is completely her business what she does, and that I can’t control her. But I can also be clear that it’s completely my business what I do.

If I don’t want her living here rent-free then, then it’s a simple conversation about how rent-free doesn’t work for me (it’s not about her at all).

I stay in my business. And she is free to move somewhere else, or to pay rent. It’s her choice. I’m no longer wanting to control her. I’m just honoring my truth, and respecting whatever she does with it.

It’s Only About my Truth

If, on the other hand, my truth is that having her stay is more important to me than having her pay rent, or that I prefer not to charge rent to family members, then I can go the other way with my actions by honoring that truth. It’s completely up to me.

Once I understand the turnaround, “She should not pay me rent,” I am no longer fighting with reality. I get it. I may be easy, or firm, or I may work out some kind of compromise. But in that space, even an eviction can come from a place of love and understanding.

All The Work does is help me step back into my business, and take responsibility for my part, instead of feeling victimized by how the other person should be different than they are. Once I do that, I’m often freer to act according to what feels best to me.

Have a great week,
Todd

P.S. I have decided not to go to the Sahara this October. If you are interested in going, please contact Margot Diskin who will be conducting the course in French in October. Instead, I will be offering The Work 101 online starting Sep 5.

“I’m the only one responsible for my life, my health, my feelings, and my happiness. When my neediness died away, what was left was love.” Byron Katie. I Need Your Love, Is That True?

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peach flower with water droplet

A water droplet creates a focal point to draw me into this flower.

People Often Want to Do The Work in General

By that, I mean it is very common for people to ask me if they can do The Work on a large, overarching belief, or if they can write a general worksheet encompassing a large piece of their life.

The answer, of course, is yes. You can do The Work on anything. You can work on the most broad reaching idea you can think of. And I invite you to do it. Sometimes it can be very powerful.

However, sometimes working a very general statement can be so broad that it remains a kind of intellectual exercise—an exercise in abstract thinking. Which can be amazing sometimes, but sometimes it can feel a little removed from everyday experience. Kind of like reading abstract spiritual wisdom.

That’s Why I Tend to Focus on Specifics

When I do The Work, I give myself permission to work broad, general topics, but most often I focus in on a specific incident. I trust that, by working my stressful thoughts about a specific incident, I also will be questioning my general theories about life.

The result is a much more experiential approach.

When I pick a situation that is charged for me, a real moment when I got triggered, then I’m dealing with something really experiential. I can go back to that incident and experience the emotions I was feeling. I can remember the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of that situation. I know where I was standing in that moment. It’s very real.

And When I Do The Work, It Feels Real Too

When I am present with the sensations and emotions of a specific incident, everything I find through my work touches me. It’s connected to me. It moves me.

As opposed to working my big theories about life which are more abstract. When I do The Work on abstractions, my experience of The Work tends to feel more intellectual. It doesn’t always touch me and shift me in the same way as when I’m dealing with a specific incident.

There Are Two More Advantages to Specifics

1. Working specific situations is easier. After all, I’m just looking at one little situation.

2. It avoids me getting caught up in fixing myself.

Let’s admit it, it can be tempting to question big theories in an attempt to shift everything in life in one stroke. But it rarely works that way. In fact, When my motive is to shift my life, I put a lot of pressure on myself. And I soon grow frustrated when I don’t know how to do it.

Working small, isolated incidents keeps me from thinking about fixing my life. Instead, I’m just focused on getting clear about this one little situation. It’s no big deal. I can relax and just have fun exploring it.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“If you do The Work with some kind of motive—of getting your wife back or getting sober—forget it! Do The Work for the love of truth, for the love of freedom. Isn’t that what you want your wife for anyway? So that you can be happy and free? Well, skip the middleman and be happy and free now! You’re it. You’re the one. There’s nothing else to do.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

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Internal Living Turnarounds

hood of an old Plymouth car

What’s under the hood is as important as what’s outside.

Living Turnarounds Are Turnarounds That You Live

There are two ways to find examples for turnarounds. With regular turnaround examples I’m looking for why the turnaround is a as true, or truer, than the original statement. With living turnaround examples, I’m looking for how I can live the turnaround.

Both kinds of examples provide balance. Finding why the turnaround is true gives a balance of understanding. Finding an example that you can practically live gives balance through action.

Here’s an Example of a Turnaround

Say you’re working the statement, “I want my dad to be kind and loving to me.” The situation is a phone conversation where your dad is yelling at you.

The turnaround to the other is, “I want me to be kind and loving to him.”

There Are Two Kinds of Examples for this Turnaround

1. Regular Turnaround Examples

I find regular turnaround examples by asking, “How could it be as true, or truer, that I want me to be kind and loving to him?” When I consider this, I find these examples:

  • I feel better when I’m kind to him, even if he’s not being kind to me.
  • Being genuinely kind to him could deescalate the situation.
  • I want to be kind and loving to him because I don’t want to be in an argument with him.
  • And because overall I do love him.

2. Living Turnaround Examples

I find living turnaround examples by asking, “How could I live the turnaround of being kind and loving to him in that moment?” When I consider this, I find these examples:

  • By giving him space to rant.
  • By not countering with defense.
  • By asking him to say more.

These are all ways I could be kind and loving to him through my behavior. This is what we mean by finding living turnarounds: what can I do in that situation to put the turnaround into action?

But There’s Also a Another Way to Find Living Turnarounds

Living a turnaround doesn’t always mean external action. Sometimes the action is completely internal.

I find internal living turnaround examples the same way, by asking, “How could I live the turnaround of being kind and loving to him in that moment?” When I consider how to do this on the internal level, I find these examples:

  • By remembering that he is a human being (subject to anger).
  • By holding him in my heart with love.
  • By considering if there is any truth in what he’s saying.
  • By remembering that I do the same thing sometimes.

All of these actions are internal. I’m not doing anything on the outside that is different. But these internal living turnarounds open my heart and allow me to be more peaceful in the same situation.

And, interestingly, as I hold myself differently inside, quite naturally I tend to do things differently on the outside too. The difference of attitude is often very apparent to the other person.

This is one of my favorite ways to live a turnaround. Spontaneously, my behavior shifts as I see him with more love and kindness. And even if he doesn’t see it, I feel it. And that’s what opens up my heart.

It’s like giving a gift without the other person knowing it.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Ross also likes to play with an exercise that I recommend, which is to do a kind act and not get found out; if you’re found out, the act doesn’t count, and you start over. I have seen him at amusement parks watch children who don’t seem to have enough money. He’ll pull out a bill from his wallet, stoop down in front of the child, pretend to pick it up from the ground, and hand it to him, saying, “You dropped this, dude,” then quickly walk away without ever looking back. He is a fine teacher of how to practice the turnaround through living amends. It’s generous to bring this practice into everyday life. The results are nothing short of miraculous, realized ever more deeply through further inquiry.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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They Are Not Doing The Work, Is It True?

sailing with no wind

Just because there’s no wind, does it mean they’re not sailing?

Have you Ever Felt Stressed Doing The Work with Someone?

For me, it happens sometimes. Especially when I think, “They’re not really doing The Work.”

This judgment pops in when I’m facilitating, and I immediately feel annoyed, powerless, wanting it to be over, or I start taking over and trying to do their work for them.

And I sometimes feel quite justified in thinking, “They are not doing The Work.” After all, they are going into defense, justification, avoidance, etc. In fact, Byron Katie even instructs us to invite people back to The Work when they stop answering the questions. That’s part of the role of a facilitator.

But My Ego Doesn’t Like Bringing People Back to The Work

My ego likes to be the good guy. The one who people like. The nice guy. I don’t want to be the policeman. The bad guy.

So guess what? Instead of inviting someone back to the questions when they go into defense, I sometimes let them wander, while I silently feel frustrated inside.

That’s when the thought, “They’re not really doing The Work,” comes in. But I don’t see it as a useful observation, an indication to invite them back. I experience it as stress.

My ego sees it as a threat, “They are putting me in a difficult situation where I have to bring them back, and they’re not going to like me.” So, like a bad parent, I let them do whatever they want. Instead of bringing them back, I “comfort” myself by thinking, “They’re not doing The Work.” What an experience of powerlessness!

So I Did The Work on it Recently

I literally questioned, “She is not doing The Work, is it true?” And the turnaround, “She is doing The Work” made me stop and reconsider everything.

I’ve been defining “doing The Work” as finding deep insights, being super vulnerable, open, and humble, and not wandering into story.

But as I considered the turnaround, “She is doing The Work,” I saw that my definition of “doing The Work” was not so open minded. When I thought about it, the most basic definition of “doing The Work” for me is “answering the four questions and looking for turnarounds and genuine examples of how the turnarounds could be true.”

This Is a Very Different Definition

My first definition was results oriented: getting insights was important. And it was also process oriented: got follow the guidelines perfectly. And it was also state of mind dependent: if you happen to be open, then you’re doing The Work. If you happen to be closed or defensive, then you’re not.

That’s not a very fair way to judge.

My new definition feels much fairer. If my client is doing her best to answer the four questions, she is doing The Work. If she is looking for turnarounds and looking for examples, she is doing The Work

It Doesn’t Matter If She Doesn’t Find Anything!

It’s still The Work if you’re looking.

And if she goes into defense, or story, when trying to answer the four questions, or if she resists the turnarounds, that is her best first attempt to answer to the questions. She is doing The Work. The Work just threw her for a loop. That’s all.

Of course, these questions would throw her for a loop! They are hard questions! From this point of view, I see nothing but honesty in her attempt to avoid those questions, or to reject a turnaround. She is still doing The Work as best she can in that moment.

The Purpose of me Seeing This Is Simple

It frees me from judging her. When I see her as “doing The Work” even when she is rebelling against the process, I no longer feel powerless. I no longer am trying to change her. I no longer am trying to push her to have insights. I no longer need anything from her.

I simply witness her going through her process. I watch with fascination as the questions drop into her mind and heart. The very fact that they make her uncomfortable and defensive is proof that the questions are stirring something inside of her. The Work is working.

All I need to do is allow that stirring to take place. And invite her back to do it again and again as we go through each question and turnaround. Maybe I’ll ask a question two or three times if she keeps running away from it. Or maybe I’ll just keep moving to the next question or turnaround, or to the next statement to work.

My job is not to make sure she has insights. My job is to keep bringing her in contact with these questions. That way she is still sailing even if we just sit in the boat and “go nowhere.” Is it even possible to go nowhere?

I find this very freeing and relieving.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“If your answers are shallow and limited, that’s all right with me, because I see that it’s all the depth that’s required in your world right now. If you seem to make no headway whatsoever, I understand that the illusion you’re holding on to is precious for you, and if you want to keep it, that’s what I want. Or if, on the contrary, the bottom falls out as you’re answering the questions, and everything you thought you knew drops away, and you fall into the abyss of reality, I love that you’ve given that to yourself…” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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