Let’s say you’re a spiritual person. You know it drains your energy to focus on negativity. You know it’s important to maintain equanimity. You know about turning the other cheek. And of the importance of optimism. So how do you live?
Your husband says something mean to you. And you think, "I’m not going to let this bother me." But he keeps it up. And gradually your sweet smile becomes strained. But you keep on smiling because you want to be kind.
You know it’s better not to say anything at all than to get into an argument. So the topics of conversation start to get restricted. Soon you’re left with nothing to discuss but the weather, which is not all that interesting these days anyway. Over time, little by little, you drift apart. And this happens in spite of your wisdom and your best intentions.
This Happens Because You Are Pretending Everything Is OK
And this happens for all of us to some degree or another. Why? Because we don’t want negativity and problems. Without any tool to see through the veil of negativity and find the good behind it, we have no choice but to run. We have no choice but to cover it up and pretend everything is OK. It’s our survival mechanism.
But unfortunately, pretending that everything is OK does not make things better. In fact, things continue to get worse with this tactic.
We start to get split. Inside we may feel hurt if someone is mean to us. But we try our best not to show it, or even feel it. This causes stress and strain. And the stress builds and comes out in unexpected ways, including passive aggressive behavior and sudden outbursts with little provocation.
We Don’t Really Want To Live This Way
But we have no choice. Our emotions are bigger than our best intentions.
And when we see what we are doing, we feel guilt. Our behavior does not match the ideal we hold for a spiritual person. So we get down on ourselves, and add to the inner pain.
So How Do We Stop?
In one word we need to get real. It sounds almost harsh when we first hear it. We are real. We are spiritual people. We want the best for everyone. And yet we are putting a glazing of sugar on our internal state. In the name of spirituality we are living in denial.
So how do we get real? It sounds like a tall order given the circumstances. It sounds complicated.
But It’s Not As Hard As You May Think
Yes, it takes courage. But it can also be fun to let loose and put your judgments on paper. What I’m talking about is filling in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet as a part of doing The Work of Byron Katie.
A Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is safe place where we can express the inner thoughts that we are experiencing under the veil of nice behavior. No one has to see these Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets. They are just a snapshot of our stressed or angry mind.
By honestly expressing our anger and stressed thinking on paper, we begin the process of making peace. That’s why it’s important to be petty on these worksheets.
Get your tantrum down. Be demanding. Be unreasonable. Be honest. Get specific about what you want. What your husband should or shouldn’t do. And what you need from him in order to overcome your hurt and be really happy again.
That’s Part One Of Doing The Work Of Byron Katie
Once you’ve put your stressful thoughts on paper. It’s time for part two: questioning the validity of what you are believing. Take each statement that you wrote and question it using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.
The Work is self-inquiry. It’s a chance to look again at everything, and to consider the opposite point of view. This can lead to a more balanced perspective, and a less stressful view of the situation.
To learn specifically how to do The Work, read this article, "What exactly is The Work?"
My Experience Doing The Work Is That I Need To Pretend Less And Less
By doing The Work on a regular basis for years, I have come to see that what I thought was meanness in my partner was simply a confused understanding on my part. The Work allows me to find tolerance and understanding. It allows me to vent my stress and unravel it. And this leaves me with a lot more love.
Because of this tool, I am much less likely now to pretend to be spiritual when I’m not feeling it. I tend to put my real story on paper and question it. I find it exciting to pierce through the illusions that I create for myself.
And ironically when I do, I can never hold back the smile that arises.
What is The Work?
Relationship and Family Issues
Money and Job Issues
My Process Exposed