Why Am I Always Negative?

tracks in the snow

The mind starts by complaining about one thing (maybe the cold and snow), and then it moves on to complaining about itself, asking, “Why am I always negative?”

Why Am I Always Negative — Judging Is What the Mind Does

And it’s probably never going to stop.

It requires judgment even to tell the difference between hot and cold. This is just natural role of the mind to observe and evaluate.

But there’s a difference between judgment and negativity. Negativity starts when the judgment becomes personal, “I hate cold. This shouldn’t be happening to me.”

It’s the “happening to me” that makes it personal. Seen from this point of view, I quickly become a victim of what is happening. And that’s when the suffering begins. That’s when it feels negative.

Being Negative Is a Reaction

For me, it’s often my attempt to compensate for something I didn’t do. When I don’t take responsibility for my actions, then all I can manage to do is to complain, to be negative.

If someone invites me to do something and I don’t want to do it, and I say yes when I really mean no, I have not been true to myself. But instead of owning my mistake and asking myself what I can do about it, I end up complaining and nit picking instead.

In other words, being negative can end up being a feeble attempt at saying no—in a passive, complaining way. And at no point am I actually taking responsibility for myself or looking at options to change my situation. I’m still just a victim being kicked along.

How Can I Turn this Around?

Noticing the thought, “Why am I always negative?” is a good starting point. It is the wake up call letting me know something is off. It’s time to take a closer look.

My favorite way of taking a closer look is The Work of Byron Katie. This simple process of self-inquiry helps me notice what I’m doing.

To do The Work when I’m feeling negative, all I need to do is pick one of the negative, complaining thoughts in my mind and write it down. What exactly am I complaining about? Or, if there are several things, I can write them all down.

Then Pick One Stressful Thought to Question

Maybe the thought is, “It’s too cold.” Or maybe you feel like a victim of your partner, “He didn’t listen to my no (about moving here).” Identifying the stressful thoughts that lead to being negative is a big part of doing The Work. Once you have them on paper, pick one to start questioning.

By taking your time and meditating as you consider the questions of The Work, you may start to find some surprising answers. You may find that you actually do like the cold, but were using it as a weapon against your partner for not listening. You may even find that he was listening to you, but you never made your point clearly, or emphatically enough.

The more you drop into the questions and turnarounds of The Work, and find examples of the opposite of what you believe, the more freeing it becomes, and the more empowered you start to feel.

For me, The Work Is How I Take Back Control

When I’m a victim, I give my power over to someone or something else. That leaves me with no options other than being negative. But when I do The Work, I start to naturally find that I am the one who makes me suffer or not. It’s all up to me.

And when I step back into my own power, the whole situations shifts.

But this is a meditation. You have to actually do The Work, not just understand it in principle. You have to allow yourself to complain in an uncensored way on paper. And then you have to go through the four questions and turnarounds slowly and gently so that your whole heart moves with your inquiry.

Otherwise, it’s just philosophy, which is not so helpful when it comes to shifting awareness in every day life.

Negativity is a Temple Bell

The next time you think, “Why am I always negative?” notice what’s going on. And try doing The Work on the complaints that are freshest in your mind.

It could be the beginning of a homecoming.

If you want to see The Work in action, join us for the free Open Sessions every week.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“When something hurts in your relationship and it’s not obvious why, you can do the same thing. Sit down and put your thoughts on paper. Concentrate on your complaints about your partner. Don’t be kind. If anything, exaggerate the faults you find. Using the Worksheet here as your guide, write down how you’ve been wronged, what they should and shouldn’t do, what you want and need from them, what you refuse to put up with any longer. And when you have it down on paper, question what you believe. Ask the four questions and turn it around.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is It True?

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Wiggle Room in Two Dimensions

upside down reflection of city street

When you’re working with more than one dimension, the possibility for freedom is multiplied.

For me, Questions 1-4 Are About Looking for Wiggle Room

When I first start questioning a statement with The Work of Byron Katie, I start with the four questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?

These questions serve a very vital purpose. When answered slowly and meditatively, they can start to loosen the attachment I have to the thought that I am questioning.

There Are Two Ways to Wiggle the Thought

Questions 1 and 2 provide one way: I ask myself if the statement I’m questioning is actually true, or not. This is one dimension of wiggle room.

The other is provided by questions 3 and 4. Regardless of whether the statement is true or not, I notice whether the thought brings me peace or stress. This is the second dimension of wiggle room.

The Dimension of Truth

If I genuinely look, and find that the the statement I’m questioning is not true, my attachment to it usually starts to loosen. My grip on it naturally relaxes as I consider the untruth of what I’m holding.

And there are two chances to do this. Question 1 is the first. Question 2 is a more subtle version: if I can find even a shadow of a doubt about the truth of my statement, it is often enough to start the opening.

Even the tiniest bit of wiggle room is a crack, an opening, and that’s enough for the light to start coming in.

The Dimension of Pain

Questions 3 and 4 are about noticing the effect of believing the statement. How do I react when I believe it? I feel stress. Who would I be in the same situation without that thought? More peaceful.

This compare/contract exercise, when done meditatively, creates another crack, another opening, in a completely different dimension. And this too allows the light come in.

Without any prying, very spontaneously, my grip loosens on the thought. After all, why would I hold onto something that is causing me pain?

Taken Together the Four Questions Are Powerful

It means that, even if I don’t find any opening in one dimension, I may still find an opening in the other dimension. Even if the thought I’m questioning is actually true, I may still find that holding onto it is painful.

Just noticing how painful it is to hold onto the thought is often enough to ease my attachment to it. And this opens me enough to try some turnarounds.

Turnarounds Are Where New Thinking Emerges

Questions 1-4 begin the process of letting go.
The turnarounds bring new understandings.

If I skip the four questions and go straight to the turnarounds, however, I’m often not open enough to really consider them. In that case, I may do the turnarounds intellectually, but the part of me that is still holding onto the original belief is still closed. So no significant shift happens inside of me.

But when I consider the four questions first, something inside starts to open before I even get to the turnarounds. And when it does, the turnarounds often find fertile ground to sprout and grow.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I suggest that you always use the four questions before applying the turnaround. You may be tempted to take a shortcut and get right to the turnaround without putting your statement up against inquiry first. This is not an effective way of using the turnaround. The feeling of judgment turned back onto yourself can be brutal if it occurs prior to thorough self-education, and the four questions do give you this education. They end the ignorance of what you believe to be true, and the turnaround in the last position feels gentle and makes sense. Without the questions first, the turnarounds can feel harsh and shameful.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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How to Find the Offense within the Offense

bas relief face with nose broken

The offense is, “They broke the nose.” The offense within the offense could be, “They hurt my pride.”

What Hurts Is the Emotional Interpretation

Actions are just actions. They become offenses only when they are interpreted as being personal in some way.

An offending action is offensive because it is somehow an affront to my ego. That’s what makes it personal. That’s what makes it stressful. And that’s why the emotion shows up.

The closer I can get to identifying what’s really bothering me, the more my work addresses that deeper, hidden offense that I am holding in a given situation.

The Work Starts with Identifying the Stressful Thought to Question

This usually consists of identifying a specific time and place when someone did something offensive to you. And you write down what they did:

He hung up on me.
She didn’t reply to my email.
She ignored my instruction.
He spent the money without consulting me.

This is a good way to start writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. Finding a clear offense brings a lot of focus to a worksheet. Once you find the offense, you can simply write it on Line 1 of the worksheet, “I am hurt by him because he hung up on me.

But Here’s a Way to Get Closer to the Offense

Before writing the triggering action down on Line 1, consider for a moment why that action really bothers you. What is is about that action that hurt you, or angered you? You may want to use the prompt, “It bothers me because it means that s/he _________.”

This can lead to finding the offense within the offense.

Here’s an Example

He hung up on me.
It angers me because it means that he overpowered me.
OR
It hurts me because it means that he doesn’t love me.

As you can see, these are two very different interpretations of the same action. This is what makes it personal. What is stressful for me in this situation may not be the same as what is stressful for another person if they were in the same situation because their interpretation may be different.

What matters is how I interpret it in the moment that I was stressed. When I find it, then I’m doing The Work on the thing that’s actually bothering me. I’ve identified the heart of the matter.

And when I do The Work on the central point of my stress, chances are that I will address the issue completely, and my turnarounds will provide the needed balance for my stress.

Practice Looking for the Offense within the Offense

In my experience, it’s usually worth the effort.

But in case you don’t find anything, that’s okay too. I also frequently use the triggering action itself as the offense that I write in Line 1.

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. The answer to the prompt, for the purposes of inquiry, is always what you think your statement means.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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The Sixth Annual Address Book Challenge

cows by the ocean

If you haven’t been to these pastures for a while, you’ll find some old friends waiting.

Address Books Contain a Wealth of Experience

Every year, I like to take a look at my address book and mine it for stressful situations for doing The Work.

The idea is very simple. Just pick up your physical address book, if you have one. Or open up your electronic address book on your computer, phone, or tablet. You can also use Facebook, or any other system you use for listing your contacts.

Start Scanning

Take your time as you read through the names one by one in your list. And start paying attention to your subtle emotions. As you see a name, do you notice any subtle discomfort?

Do you want to squirm away from that name on the list? Do you notice a slight feeling of anger or sadness coming up?

This is the clue that there are some unquestioned stressful thoughts hiding there.

Here’s the Challenge

Find a name that makes you feel uncomfortable, or stressful in any way, and instead of turning away from it, go into it. Sit for a minute and let the memories start flooding in.

Where is the stress coming from with this person?

Maybe they did something mean. Maybe it’s just one incident, or maybe there are many incidents that come to mind. If there are many, focus in on just one of them—the main one you have not forgiven them for—and write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on that particular incident that you remember. And then question each statement on the worksheet.

This Is Forgiveness Work

And for me, forgiveness doesn’t come until I’ve thoroughly questioned all of my stressful thoughts on the incident that I’m holding.

These old situations hiding in my address book are pieces of myself. There is no need to work them all. There are too many, in fact, for that. But I can take just one of these old situations and make peace with it.

Working just one thing deeply is a way of working them all.

Happy New Year!
Todd

“I encourage you to write about someone—parent, lover, enemy—whom you haven’t yet totally forgiven. This is the most powerful place to begin. Even if you’ve forgiven that person 99 percent, you aren’t free until your forgiveness is complete. The 1 percent you haven’t forgiven them is the very place where you’re stuck in all your other relationships (including the relationship with yourself).” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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How to Not Short Circuit The Work

wires

A short circuit happens when you bypass the regular circuit.

There Is no Shortcut with The Work

The Work is an experiential process with several defined steps to go through. If you jump from the beginning of the process to the end of the process, you can miss the experience of transformation.

What looks like a shortcut, may turn out to be a short circuit.

Here Are Some Ways This Can Happen

Probably the most common way of doing this is to “flip” a stressful thought to its turnaround without asking the four questions.

Another way it can happen is to take Byron Katie’s words as true, without testing them.

For example, someone recently mentioned to me that Byron Katie often says, “That’s the way it should be because that’s reality.” This is a very valid point and, if I fully understand it, it can be very freeing. It is completely true from a place of surrender.

But It May Be Too Big of a Jump for Me

I may want to surrender to reality, but I may not be able to in one step.

That’s what The Work is for. It breaks it down into smaller steps so that I can slowly move myself from arguing with reality to accepting, or even loving what is.

The first step is to allow myself to fully express my argument with reality. I need to feel fully heard before I’m willing to question anything. That is why writing down the stressful thoughts on paper is so valuable. It allows me to get the rant out of me.

The Four Questions Allow Me to Go Further

Once I have written my stressful thoughts on paper, I do not jump to the turnarounds. Instead, I ask the part of me that just ranted what it thinks. Is it true? Can I absolutely know it’s true? No matter how I answer, my mind starts to open to the idea that there might be more than what I’m believing. This is my first move towards acceptance, but it may not be enough.

Questions 3 and 4 take it further. They help me look at how my belief affects me. Does it bring peace or stress? The question, “How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?” shows me how stressful it is to believe it. And the question, “Who would you be without the thought?” often shows me how peaceful I would be without it.

This simple comparison loosens my attachment to my stressful thought. It helps me see that the thought itself is what’s causing my stress. These are experiential questions, and they continue to lead me from anger to more awareness.

At this Point I’m More Open for the Turnarounds

But even when I find turnarounds, I don’t take them as facts, I hold them as simply new hypotheses. Could the turnaround be as true, or truer? I look for my examples. It is in finding concrete examples that my acceptance of reality starts to crystallize.

At the end of this process, I may be able to genuinely say that “this is the way it should be.” I may find my own acceptance and surrender to reality. But I have to go through this experiential process before arriving at this point.

The Work is a meditation. This is why reading or listening to the words of wise people is helpful, but not always enough. I have to find it for myself before it’s real for me. The Work is what helps me to do this step by step.

Merry Christmas,
Todd

“When the answer comes from inside you, the realizations and shifts follow naturally.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

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The Power of Slow and Steady

rounded rocks

The ongoing action of the waves over time has rounded the edges of these stones.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I was cleaning the toilet today, as we do pretty much every day. And I realized that the calcium buildup that had been so bad last summer was gone.

Ironically, I hadn’t done much of anything. I didn’t make removing the calcium scale into a big project last summer. I didn’t try to chip it away. I didn’t use chemicals. All I had been doing for the past six months was just cleaning the toilet every every day with a porcelain-safe scrub sponge.

At the very beginning, I had tried scrubbing a little harder with the sponge, but it didn’t make much difference. So I soon forgot about getting rid of the scale and just cleaned every day because that’s what we do.

Then, without any major fight, the scale is gone. In fact, I think the scale was gone for a while before I noticed.

That’s How The Work Works for Me

Sure, I notice plenty of “calcium buildup” in my thinking that I would like to get rid of. But thinking about it as a big project makes me more stressed. It actually creates more “buildup” in my mind.

So, instead of making a project out of cleaning my thinking, I don’t worry about it. I can live with a little scale in my thinking, just like I can live with a little scale in my toilet. This takes the pressure off. I’m no longer doing The Work to fix myself.

As a result, The Work is not stressful for me. And when the The Work is not stressful, there’s no resistance in me to doing it.

I just do The Work because that’s what I like to do. I like cleaning my mind every day—just a little bit. I’m not trying to make everything perfect in there. That’s probably not possible anyway. I’m just questioning my thoughts a little here and there because it feels good to do so.

But Over Time a Little Questioning Goes a Long Way

Every once in a while I realize that something that was a big issue for me is no longer an issue. I don’t even know when it fell away. I don’t know which worksheet, or which one-liner, that I questioned was the one that made the difference.

I’m not even thinking about it. It’s like doing The Work without caring. When I do The Work that way, I hardly notice that my thinking is getting clearer. There’s no big celebration. It’s just a growing feeling of being on the right track.

And that Reinforces my Desire to Keep up the Steady Pace

I’m not looking for miracles when I do The Work.

Slow, steady growth of clarity is enough for me.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“You can’t force this process; you can only inquire and find out what’s true.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love Is That True?

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Stressful Thoughts vs. Stressful Situations

traffic

Stressful situations show me which stressful thoughts are still in me.

The Work Is About Questioning Stressful Thoughts

When I first started The Work, I would just find a stressful thought and then question it. Then find another stressful thought and question it.

I still do The Work that way today. But my approach has also shifted a bit.

Now I Look for Stressful Situations First

Because I know that whenever I find a stressful situation, I will find all of my stressful thoughts within it.

The difference in this approach is subtle, but powerful, for me.

When I pick a stressful thought without reference to a situation, it can be more challenging to work. It is often less grounded, more general, more abstract, more intellectual.

When I pick a situation first, and then choose stressful thoughts to work from within that situation, it feels very grounded. I know exactly what I’m talking about. It feels more tangible as I work it. And the concrete details of the situation often give rise to unexpected findings as I do my work.

But Sometimes I Find an Unconnected Stressful Thought

Thoughts just pop in sometimes, and I still work them. But even these random stressful thoughts usually come from some specific trigger.

If I look back and ask myself, “When did this thought pop into my mind?” I often find that I was thinking about a specific situation that happened in the past, or that will happen in the future.

So I simply go into that remembered or imagined situation and write my stressful thoughts from there.

Babies Aren’t Born without a Mother

And stressful thoughts aren’t born without a stressful situation. If you want to get full access to the babies, it’s worth getting to know the mother.

Have a great week,
Todd

“The first step in The Work is to write down your judgments about any stressful situation in your life, past, present, or future—about a person you dislike or worry about, a situation with someone who angers or frightens or saddens you, or someone you’re ambivalent or confused about.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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cars on the road

Each moment on the road is a completely different situation.

What Is the Moment?

The stressful moment is the time right after the offense occurred. That’s when it hits you. And that’s when the stress begins. So, whenever possible before writing a worksheet, I like to identify what they did to hurt me (the offense) and the specific moment when they did it.

Identifying one moment may take some meditation. It is usually easier to find a specific moment with certain “slap” kinds of situations, but most situations have a moment, or a time zone, right after the offense occurred.

For me, part of writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is finding the offense and the moment right after it, and holding these as I write.

Let’s Say Someone Literally Slapped Me

The offense is “they slapped me.” So line 1 of the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is “I am shocked by them because they slapped me.”

The stressful moment is the moment right after they slapped me when my mind started taking it in. This is the moment I like to hold as I fill in lines 2-6 of a worksheet. I stand in that moment and look back at the offense that just happened. And I let my emotions speak from there.

Line 2: I want them to see what they did.
I want them to own it.
Line 3: They should see that it was done out of reaction.
They should consider what they were defending so strongly.
They should admit what they find to me.
Line 4: I need them to give me some space.
I need them to want to make it right.
I need them to apologize to me.
I need them to say they were wrong.
Line 5: They are out of control, violent.
Line 6: I don’t ever want them to slap me again.

Now Compare that to One Moment Earlier

Let’s say I was not writing from the moment right after the slap, but was writing from the moment before the slap. My thoughts would be quite different.

In fact, Line 1 would be different too: I am angry with them because they are not listening to me.

Line 2: I want them to listen to me.
Line 3: They should set aside their emotions.
They should not take it so personally.
They should give me space to talk.
Line 4: I need them respect me.
I need them to have an honest conversation with me.
Line 5: They are not listening, agitated, reactive.
Line 6: I don’t ever want them to not listen to me again.

Notice there is no mention of a slap here because the slap hasn’t happened yet.

These Are Each Valuable Worksheets

One focuses on the moment building up to the slap. And working through it allows me to find options when someone is not listening.

The other worksheet focuses on the moment after the slap. This is a very different moment, and a very different worksheet. Questioning the stressful thoughts in this moment allows me to find peace after a slap.

Each One Is a Different Surgery

Both are valuable.

I personally like to choose just one moment at a time and go deep with it.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“Did you stay in the situation described in statement 1?” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

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black and white clouds

Black and white are equally important in a photograph.

The Word No Is Almost Taboo

Or at least it has been in my life.

Taboo because I believe that people don’t like me when I say no.

Taboo because I don’t hear others saying no too often either.

My conclusion has been since growing up that no is a kind of bad word. And so I’ve avoided using it as best I could.

But it leaves me with only a partial vocabulary. In my attempt to have the world like me (by not saying no), I handicap myself.

It’s like driving a car with only an accelerator and no brake. No wonder I don’t want to go more than five miles per hour. No wonder I panic if there’s a slope.

It Takes Courage to Say No

But only if I want someone’s approval.

Wanting someone to like me is the nemesis of saying no. So, if I want to strengthen my ability to say no, I have to question my desire to be liked.

This works best for me one situation at a time. It’s hard to question, “I want other people to like me” in a general way. It quickly becomes philosophy. But it becomes very real and concrete when I’m dealing with a concrete situation.

Here’s An Example

I remember when I was young, my mom wanted me to be a doctor. And I wanted to live in an ashram meditating instead. I wanted my mom to approve of me, which made it very difficult to say a clear no to her ideas for me. My solution was to stay more distant from her.

To some degree, not being able to say no to her cost me having my mother in my life. I remember when I moved to the ashram, I didn’t tell her until a few weeks after I moved. I was trying to stand up for myself, but the best I could do was a cowardly version of it.

If I Was Doing The Work on it Today, I’d Have Some Options

I might start by writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on her:

1. I am afraid of Mom because she won’t approve of me going to the ashram.

2. I want her to approve of my decision.
I want her to let me live my own life.
I want her to forget about medical school.
I want her to stop judging me based on career.

3. She should see that I’m a seeker.
She should let me follow my own path.
She should stop trying to make a duplicate of herself.

4. I need her to respect me.
I need her to let me explore freely.
I need her to love me unconditionally.

5. She is materialistic, selfish, closed-minded, controlling.

6. I don’t ever want her to disapprove of my decisions again.

I can see, just writing this now, that it still has some charge for me after all these years. I’m going to put this in my queue of worksheets to work.

The Point Is that It was my Desire for Approval that Stopped my No

I’d be willing to bet that if I had questioned these thoughts in my twenties, I would have been much closer to having a fearless conversation with her about what I wanted to do.

In fact, I bet I could have even listened to her side with an open mind, without feeling obligated to please her. That could have been a very different relationship.

But luckily with The Work, it’s never too late. I can still do this work now.

The Other Piece of it for me Was Not Wanting to Admit Confusion

I wasn’t 100% clear about my life in my twenties. I felt a lot of confusion in both my career plans and in my personal life. My mom would have probably been a great person to talk with about it, but I couldn’t because I believed that she was expecting perfection from me.

I had assumed since fourth grade that she expected perfect grades from me. And my goal was always to please her by being as close to perfect as I could be.

And I assumed that personal life was the same. I had to be perfect. No confusion allowed. And that left me isolated from her. Separate. Miserable in what I later called my “terrible twenties.”

Again, there is another great Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets here:

1. I am distant with Mom because she expects me to be perfect.

2. I want her to stop expecting perfection from me.
I want her to be approachable to talk to.
I want her to drop her motives to change me.
I want her to be a safe space for me to explore things with.
I want her to not judge me for being confused.

3. She should see that her desire to influence me keeps me away.
She should tell me that we are all just finding our way in the dark.
She should share stories of how she was confused too.
She should destigmatize confusion for me.
She should be an example of vulnerability for me.

4. I need her to listen without judgment to me.
I need her to accept me as I am.
I need her to love me.

5. She is judgmental, harsh, motive driven, unforgiving.

6. I don’t ever want her to expect me to be perfect when I’m confused again.

So, once again, more thoughts between me and honest conversation with my mom.

The Only Things Stopping me Were my Beliefs.

And now I see that these beliefs can be questioned. I want to do this work even now, after my mother is dead, because the same beliefs that stopped me then from being honest and saying no in the face of her potential disapproval, continue to stop me today with others.

This is how doing The Work on one situation, one relationship, can open up possibilities for the whole of life.

This is why I love The Work.

Through Inquiry, No Becomes Equal to Yes

When I question the stressful thoughts that keep me from saying no, saying no begins to be easier. It becomes a good thing, not something to hide in taboo.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Honest communication begins with you communicating with yourself. It means responding with what is true for you, regardless of how someone may react to your answer. First you have to discover what is really true for you. A dishonest yes is a no to yourself.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?

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The Work Is 100% Not Needed

mountain road

As wonderful as a highway is, it is not actually a necessity.

Loving The Work vs. Being Dependent on It

I love The Work, and it comes through in my enthusiasm.

If you read some of my articles about The Work, you might think that you have to do The Work in order to be free. But I don’t actually believe that.

I’ve done The Work on The Work, and I’ve done The Work on Byron Katie, and I’m clear that I don’t actually need them at all. And ironically, when there’s no need for The Work, that’s when I able to slip into second gear with The Work. That’s when I’m free to get into it with full enthusiasm.

Because It’s Not Something Other Than Me

The Work always brings me back to me.

The four questions are nothing but questions. The turnarounds are nothing but opposites. There is nothing to The Work at all. The secret sauce is what I find when I look to me.

So if The Work disappeared overnight, and there were no more questions, and no more turnarounds, would there be any problem? No. There are a million ways back home to me.

I’ve Often Noticed How We All “Do The Work”

The Work is just about noticing what hurts and what doesn’t hurt. We all do that anyway.

I think it’s a part of human nature. When we notice something hurts, we question our assumptions, our positions, everything. We often shift our points of view and consider “turnarounds” out of pure instinct.

The Work is nothing new. It is a part of human nature to inquire. Even if the formal practice were forgotten, the natural tendency to inquire would continue, as it has since ancient times.

What I Love About The Work Is that It Speeds up the Process

The same natural tendency to question everything, especially when faced with any kind of suffering, is formalized in The Work.

Byron Katie has boiled it down to four questions and turnarounds. She has made it so simple, so accessible. And in creating a formal practice of inquiry, she has literally created a highway through the mountains.

Personally, I Love the Highway

It’s here, so I use it.

I love zipping through the mountains on the smooth surface of the road. I love seeing how fast I cut through my suffering with The Work.

But I’m also clear that if the highway disappeared, I’d have just as much fun getting out of the car and trekking through the woods, eating the berries, and getting my exercise.

With or without The Work, I am on the same path of coming home to me.

This Adds Another Layer of Freedom to the Practice

With this perspective, I do The Work because why wouldn’t I? There’s no “have to” in it. There’s no “should” in it. There is no element of desperation in it.

And there’s no fanaticism about it—no judging of myself or others over who’s doing The Work or not.

It just becomes an option. Shall I go for a drive or a hike today? I often drive. And I often walk.

Have a great week,
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.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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