Why Some Self-Judgments Are Especially Resistant to Inquiry

hen

Some Beliefs Are Tough Ones

And while I believe that any stressful thought can loosen and fall away with inquiry, it doesn’t mean that it always does. This seems to be especially true with certain “truths” that the mind attaches to and uses to beat itself up. For example:

I’m too fat.
I’m not good enough.
I don’t fit in.

Notice what the mind does here. It takes something true (maybe I am fat or not good enough) and latches onto it. It then generalizes it to an abstract level that almost can’t be touched by examples to the contrary.

The Mind Is Protecting This Belief Even Though It’s Painful

That’s the strange part. There’s nothing more painful than believing these self-attacking thoughts. But it’s often impossible to pry the mind’s grip off of them.

This tells me one thing: the mind wants to hold onto them. It’s using them for some reason. And usually that reason is a cover up.

If I focus on how “I’m too fat” then I don’t have to own the fact that I’m scared to reach out to people (afraid of rejection). And if I hold onto the idea that “I’m not good enough,” then I have an excuse not to take on more responsibility (afraid of failure).

That’s Why These Thoughts Sometimes Don’t Respond to Inquiry

They are not always the real issue.

The mind is happy to have us focused on “I’m too fat” and going nowhere with it. Meanwhile, it says safe not having to face its bigger fear: making friends or finding a partner.

While questioning “I am fat” can be a very powerful inquiry if the mind is open to it, I sometimes don’t question it. Especially if I’m starting go in circles.

Instead, I Use the “I’m too Fat” Thought as a Temple Bell

Did that temple bell just ring?

What was going on when I had the thought, “I’m too fat,” or in my case, “I’m too skinny”?

If I look around, nine times out of ten, there was something else going on that I was avoiding or was afraid of at that time. Why is the mind seeking solace in this safe, familiar thought at this time?

Then I Question the Source Thoughts

These are often Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets. If I’m suddenly self-conscious around someone, what story am I carrying about her? Maybe she made a comment earlier, or seemed to avoid me. That’s a worksheet I can write.

And when I work my worksheets, I often find that my insecurity becomes less, and my self-judgments fall away without further inquiry on “I’m too fat,” etc. Suddenly, “I’m too fat,” is not a big deal anymore (because the mind is no longer using it to hide).

In many cases, my self-judgements, like “I’m not good enough,” are simply how I react to something else. So instead of questioning them, I question what is causing my self-attack in the first place—usually what I’m believing about something or someone around me.

Let me know your experience.

Have a great week,
Todd

P.S. I’m switching to once a week for these newsletters for a while. I may send more often sometimes, but my baseline will be once a week (Mondays) for now.

“Don’t necessarily do The Work on drinking,” I tell them. “Go back to the thought just prior to the thought that you need a drink, and do The Work on that, on that man or woman again, on that situation. The prior thought is what you’re trying to shut down with alcohol. Apply The Work to that. Your uninvestigated thinking is the problem, not alcohol.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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I Should Be Feeling Happier, Is It True?

balsamroot and lupine

I remember the day I took this photo. The whole photo shoot was a high point for me. But did it last?

Here’s the Problem With Highs

A client summarized it well when she described her experience. She said that recently miracles have been happening for her, completely unexpected goodness coming her way. And while she felt incredibly grateful, she was bummed that she still felt sad inside.

This of course led to self-attack and a downward spiral.

So We Did The Work on “I Should Be Feeling Happier”

Ironically, when she believed this thought, she felt worse. She saw the miracles that had happened in the last couple of weeks, and she saw her sadness in spite of them. In addition to attacking herself for not feeling happier, she felt helpless to ever become happy. After all, if she can’t be happy when miracles happen, how can she ever be happy?

It sounded strangely similar to the way people chase after money, or fame. Like those super successful people who end up committing suicide because all the success never gave them happiness.

Without the Thought, “I Should Be Feeling Happier.”

Without this thought, the happiness of the miracles comes and goes just like any other happiness. It’s a highlight that is wonderful to behold, but which fades naturally like a shooting star.

Without this thought, she laughed when she said that she would just be sad. Just sad without the overlay of “I should be feeling happier.” It would be simple sadness, not compounded sadness on top of sadness.

She Must Have Found Twenty Turnaround Examples

The turnaround was, “I shouldn’t be feeling happier.”

And once it started getting clear, the examples came pouring in. I can’t remember them all, but the idea was very simple: highlights aren’t meant to change my life—they are just highlights.

She is an artist, and considered that if she painted only highlights there would be no contrast in her artwork. In fact, the highlights would not really be highlights in that context.

Happiness Is Not Meant to Last

It was fascinating to consider this. I could also find where my whole life has been focused on gaining more and more happiness. And even my spiritual practices have been aimed at an imagined state of enlightenment that is only happy.

But happiness comes and goes. Highs come and go. As does sadness and any low. That’s just the way life moves. It’s like the stock market. It goes up and down. A flat line would only mean it’s dead.

This Idea Takes the Pressure Off

It leaves life in a much simpler state. When miracles happen, I can enjoy them, be happy about them, but knowing that they are temporary. When they fade, there is no mistake. I am not wrong because I can’t hold the happiness forever.

It is just the natural swing of life. Seeing that, if sadness emerges, I can “enjoy” that too. My client immediately loved the idea of enjoying sadness: with big pillows, and Kleenex, and movies. But even sadness can’t last. Nothing can.

This permission to be sad when I’m sad, and happy when I’m happy is freedom. We ended the phone call with me wishing her well. “Enjoy your sadness!” I said. We laughed about it, and strangely there was a real joy in seeing it this way.

How About You?

Are you doing The Work to get rid of sadness? Or anger? Who would you be if you did The Work to love your sadness instead?

If you haven’t taken The Work 101 with me, the next course will start Sep 2. See you there.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“If we pursue it, it runs away. If we stop pursuing it and question our minds instead, the source of all stress disappears. Happiness is who we already are, once our minds are clear. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want. We’re happy with whatever life brings us. That’s enough, and more than enough.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Introducing the Inquiry Circle Prep Course

lotus bud

It takes strength to start standing on your own.

This Course Is About Self-Sufficiency

In The Work 101, you learn all about the basics of how to do The Work. Once you’ve completed that course, you are eligible to take the Inquiry Circle Prep Course, my newest course focused on gaining independence in daily practice.

This is now a prerequisite for membership in Inquiry Circle, my ongoing practice group.

What Is the Course About?

Have you ever wanted to do The Work but never got into a habit of it? It takes some focus to establish a habit. After all, there are so many things calling for our time in life. This course is for those who value doing The Work and want to make it a regular part of their lives.

We will continuously look at what stops us from putting in the time each day. And we’ll work in teams to overcome both practical and mental obstacles to the practice on a daily basis.

We will build up from doing The Work four times a week to doing it every day by the end of the course. I will also be sharing tips for deepening The Work as you practice.

It’s Easy to Practice in a Classroom Setting

But can you do it when the class is over? Most people keep up with the assignments in The Work 101 just fine. There is external motivation. But it’s a different thing when you’re the only one you’re responsible for.

In the past, many people have gone from The Work 101 into Inquiry Circle only to drop out in a month or two. One reason for this is that it can be like taking a few swimming lessons and then jumping into the deep end.

The Inquiry Circle Prep Course, is a transition course that helps you move from being told what to do each day to finding your own internal motivation and practical solutions to showing up regularly.

The First Course Is Jul 29 – Aug 26

Come work out with us for a month.

As you practice, you may find yourself getting stronger and more self-sufficient. Whether you stay in Inquiry Circle long term or practice on your own after the course, I hope that you find more clarity about how to support yourself to make The Work an ongoing practice.

Sign up for the Inquiry Circle Prep Course here (completion of The Work 101 is a prerequisite).

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“Until there’s peace within you, there is no peace in the world, because you are the world, you are the earth. The story of earth is all there is of earth and beyond.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

My Process of Evolution

tulips

At the same time that a flower is being born, a flower bud is being destroyed.

Change Can Be Challenging

When it first starts to happen, it can seem like a bad thing. All I can see at first is the loss and destruction of what was familiar. If I am attached to it, it can be emotionally stressful to watch what I’ve come to count on change.

But change it will. Nothing stays the same for long in this world.

When I’m only looking at the loss, it can be disheartening. But that is only because I don’t see where it is heading. I am always in the dark about the future. I don’t see that the destruction of the flower bud is the start of an even more beautiful thing: the flower. And that the flower in turn will fall away in order to give rise to the fruit.

Here’s what it Looked like for me in May

I started noticing that people were leaving Inquiry Circle, my ongoing practice group for The Work, more than usual. Normally, I don’t worry if people come and go in Inquiry Circle, but this time it was happening more than usual and somehow my mind was not open to seeing the good in it.

Here’s how the process evolved for me:

Stage 1: Emotional Resistance

The first thing that happened was it got me down. I took it personally.

I started wanting to give up. All I could see was the destructive side of the picture. I was not looking at evolution. I was seeing it as loss.

And my mind went to all or nothing. I really did contemplate discontinuing the program that has been running continuously for many years.

Stage 2: Doing The Work

The only thing that saved me was The Work. When I feel emotional, it’s my clue that it’s time for me to do The Work. So I did. I wrote a worksheet on Inquiry Circle and did my work in front of the Inquiry Circle group, as I do every day.

The result was that I started to see how I was the one making it into a terrible thing. It was my interpretation that was getting me down. I made it mean that Inquiry Circle was a failure, that I was a failure. I was literally zapping my own energy.

The people leaving was not the problem. My thinking was. As I started to see this more clearly, the emotions lifted. I became more neutral. I no longer wanted to just run away. Instead, I became curious about the next steps.

Stage 3: Asking for Feedback

When I’m taking it personally, I don’t want to hear feedback. I just want to run, to trash it all, to give up. But once I did my work on the emotional thoughts around it, I was suddenly open and interested in what others had to say. I was not afraid to face reality.

So I asked for feedback. And I got a lot of very helpful feedback. For example, one of the main reasons why people were leaving Inquiry Circle was because I started keeping attendance. Inquiry Circle is not a course, it is an ongoing practice group. The attendance idea works great in a course, but in Inquiry Circle it felt a bit oppressive.

It was clear that I was using too much “stick” and not enough “carrot.”

Another suggestion to me was that I was spending too much time doing administrative tasks for the group, sending emails, billing, setting up systems, etc., and not enough time participating in the group (reading and commenting). Having done The Work on my emotional thoughts, I was now open to hear this.

Stage 4: Making Changes

Based on the feedback I received, a picture started becoming clear for me of how to move forward. I wanted to simplify things so that I would have less administrative work and be more available for participation.

So I discontinued the different “tracks” I had created. I stopped using individual work spaces and brought us all together into one big forum called “The Work Forum.” Suddenly, an ancient problem in Inquiry Circle evaporated. Now it didn’t matter if some people were less active. When we all do The Work together in one forum, those who are active don’t feel isolated like they do when we are in small groups of 3 (if two people become inactive).

I also started reading The Work that others write each day as a high priority. That’s one way I can serve in this group. And I created a special forum for questions about The Work. Now, like in my Open Sessions, people can ask questions about anything in addition to doing The Work.

I am also now planning more fun and diverse activities and exercises to keep it fresh. The core of Inquiry Circle will always be doing The Work, but sometimes doing group activities can spice it up, and stimulate each of us to find new areas to work.

And finally, I changed the membership from a monthly membership to an annual membership, and I cut the price in half. This makes administration easier for me, so I can spend more time participating.

Stage 5: Long Term Growth

Now that the revolution has happened, evolution can continue at a slower pace again. The bud has been transformed, and the flower is now opening. I’m excited about the new changes. And I continue to add new changes as they come up.

For example, I’ll be creating a one-month “Inquiry Circle Prep Course” that participants will complete after finishing The Work 101 and before starting Inquiry Circle. This not only gives a taste of Inquiry Circle before committing to it for a year, but it also makes sure that everyone is clear about all of the options inside of Inquiry Circle and how to use them.

I will also be experimenting with more ideas to make spoken work easier in Inquiry Circle across time zones. And I’ll keep adjusting and adding new things as suggestions come in. But I’ll also keep an eye on keeping it simple.

None of this Would Have Happened if I Didn’t Get Over the Hump

The key in all of this was The Work. Without it, I would have just given up. But I recognized my negative emotions as a sign to do The Work, so I was able to identify them and question them and let go of them. Once I was no longer feeling sorry for myself, I was able to open to a whole new way in Inquiry Circle.

So my gratitude is to this simple way of questioning anything. With it, negativity is not bad. It is just the first stage of my next step of evolution. The Work helps me get over the hump emotionally so that I’m open to the goodness that awaits.

Have a great week,
Todd

“It’s good that you think you’re going to lose your job. This is exciting. Do The Work, live The Work, notice, and know that if you lose your job, there is something better waiting for you. But when you’re stuck in a belief, you’re blind.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World

The Power of Unplugging

the stars and moon in the trees

Unwinding happens naturally when there are no demands on me.

There Is Nothing like Leaving it all Behind

About an hour before arriving at Breitenbush Hot Springs I lost cell service. And with it I left all my cares behind for a few days. It’s amazing how much time you have when you’re not checking emails, doing jobs, or planning new things.

I literally had nothing to do for five days other than show up three times a day for the course that Grace Bell and I were hosting. I slept a little later the first few nights. I went to bed early every night. I walked in the woods. I breathed in the fresh evergreen air.

There was no career, no family, no future, no past. Just the very basics of life.

I Found it Rejuvenating to Do Nothing

Not doing anything is a turnaround for me who is always doing something. Not planning anything is a turnaround for me who is always planning something. Not being productive is a turnaround for me who is always trying to be productive.

And when turnarounds meet stress they balance each other out. It’s always that simple. If I’m hungry, eating is my turnaround. If I’m tired, sleeping in my turnaround. If I’m busy, rest is my turnaround.

And it is also true that if I’m lethargic, then activity is my turnaround. If I’m bored, creativity is my turnaround. If I’m weak, movement is my turnaround.

Turnarounds Bring Balance

That’s all The Work of Byron Katie is about: balance. There are no absolutes. There is only balance in an ever shifting, ever changing life. The Work is my tool to find balance in any situation by bringing in the turnaround.

It seems obvious. And it really is that simple. But the obvious hides in plain sight. I literally can’t see the obvious when I’m driven. When I believe that I must get somewhere, I miss the fact that I have what I want even here.

The Work Is a Way Back to Nature

Not the nature of pine trees and stars. But the natural experience of peace. It is the movement away from what I think I want and need that brings me peace. It is the letting go that frees me.

That is what question 4 of The Work always invites: “Who would you be without that thought?” It’s an invitation into the cool, refreshing woods of myself. Who would I be without the thought that I need to get somewhere? I’d be in peace right here.

This means that you don’t have to go to the woods to find peace. The trees can be a quiet help, but peace is available even in the midst of a busy project, or busy family. It lies only a turnaround away. As soon as I question, “I want…” and “I need…” and balance them with “I don’t wan’t…” and “I don’t need…,” the mind naturally comes back home to rest, even if it’s busily engaged in activity.

The mind can literally can be unplugged even while still plugged in.

Join us next week for my free Open Sessions and let’s do The Work together.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“I understand how painful the unquestioned mind is. I also understand that love is the power. Mind originates in love and ultimately returns to its source. Love is mind’s homing device, and until mind returns, it has no rest.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

What Are You Critical Of? This Is a Great Place to Start The Work

spray painted fruit stand sign

My mind can go to “These signs are really unprofessional.” This could be the start of an enlightening piece of work for me.

It’s the Mind’s Job to Criticize

That’s what the intellect does. It notices the differences. It compares. It comes to conclusions based on observation and logic.

This is as it should be. The intellect judges some things as good and others as bad. And to a large degree it keeps us out of trouble. But criticism also tells us a lot about ourselves. It tells us about the parts of ourselves that we are often still asleep to.

If you want to know yourself better, pay attention to your criticism.

Write it Down

Take out a blank piece of paper and write down all of your criticisms about somebody or something. Don’t worry about sticking to one situation, let your mind go wide and get down all of the picky things that they do wrong in your opinion. Include the character flaws too.

She is impetuous.
She is too hard on her children.
She doesn’t spend time with us.
She spreads herself too thin.
She’s is controlling.
She is a fanatic about her food.
She should not be eating fat free.
She is always stressed out.
She is a drama queen.

When you have a list, you can start questioning the statements directly, or you can dig deeper into your critical statements to reveal additional judgments and beliefs.

One way to dig deeper is to isolate specific instances. For example, when I was talking on the phone with her and she became harsh with her child and gave him a time out. Or when she decided not to come be with us after we went out of our way to make it easy for her.

The specific instances are representative of the larger, more general character flaws. When I write down my stressful thoughts about the particular instance, I often become even clearer about what I mean.

I Usually Use a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet for This

For example, I can write a worksheet on her when she said that she could only come “for a few hours” when we rented a place near her hoping she would spend the week with us.

Before I write my worksheet, I like to first identify the statement of fact. What did she actually do?

Statement of fact: She is not coming for the whole week.

Then I write my interpretations of the statement of fact. (I sometimes use the prompt, “And it means that…”)

She doesn’t want to be with us.
She doesn’t like us.
She is afraid we will spoil her children.
She doesn’t trust us.
She is influenced by her husband.

I Pick One Statement to Write in Line 1 of the Worksheet

I usually find that my interpretations are closer to what is actually causing my stress. I scan them, and choose one: “She is afraid we will spoil her children.” That’s a real criticism. And it bothers me. So I write it down on line 1 of my Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, and continue writing lines 2-6 of the worksheet..

1. I am angry with her because she is afraid we will spoil her children.

2. I want her to smarten up!
I want her to trust us.
I want her to allow her children to be with us.

3. She should notice how much she is trying to control her children.
She should see that this is not healthy for her children.
She should understand that we are not a bad influence on them.
She should consider that children need other adult influences.
She should loosen the rules on vacation.
She admit that she is taking her job as a parent too seriously.
She should change her mind.
She should let them come for the whole week.

4. I need her to put herself in my shoes.
I need her to see that it hurts to be denied access to her children.
I need her to notice that she is punishing us too.
I need her to be vulnerable with us.
I need her to explain what’s going on for her.
I need her to see that we are trustworthy.
I need her to apologize for excluding us.

5. She is untrusting, controlling, distant, fearful, confused.

6. I don’t ever want her to deny us access to her children again.
I don’t ever want her to not join us again.

I Then Question the Statements I Wrote

I use the four questions and turnarounds to question as many statements as I like on this worksheet. For example, I can start with “She is afraid we will spoil her children.” Is that true? Can I absolutely know it’s true? How do I react, what happens, when I believe she’s afraid we will spoil her children? Who would I be without that thought?

Each question is a meditation. Each question brings up answers from within me. I often see things that I never saw before when I question my critical thoughts in this way.

And I see even more when I turn the thought around (and find examples of why each turnaround could be as true):

For example, “She is not afraid that we will spoil her children.” Maybe she just wants her children to herself – after all, her children don’t live with her except in the summer.

The Work Turns Criticism into Self-Reflection

When I’m critical, and I do The Work, I start to see my own mind. I get to see that I’ve got some assumptions going on too. This work brings sweet humility as I see my part in things. It also brings forgiveness and a much more open mind for what may be going on for others.

Join me any time for a private session if you want to do The Work with me.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I criticize what she eats—and I’m the one who could take a look at that in my own life.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?

The Work of Byron Katie and Chronic Pain

winter landscape

Chronic pain can leave you feeling alone, depleted, hopeless, depressed, or angry.

Chronic Pain can be a Constant Companion

For many people, pain is a part of daily life. It could be back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, intestinal pain, tinnitus, headache, or pain in any part of the body. What makes it chronic is that it doesn’t go away. Many people have been living with pain for years.

The first thing to do with pain is to work with doctors and health practitioners to alleviate the physical pain if possible. Chiropractic is very helpful with back pain and headaches. And there are many well trained doctors and health practitioners offering modalities to help with chronic pain. Doing some research is often well worth the effort.

But there is also a lot of psychology that goes along with pain. The mind can make pain worse. It can put you through the gamut of emotions, which only intensifies the pain. So in addition to getting good medical attention, addressing the mind is a valuable part of managing pain.

There Are Many Modalities to Work with the Mind

Meditation can be a big help. I have been using Transcendental Meditation since I was young, and find it to be a very effective way of calming the mind, opening the heart and letting go of stress.

Self-inquiry inquiry is the other tool that I use to free my mind and open my heart.

Specifically, I use The Work of Byron Katie, a simple way to identify the thoughts that are causing me stress and to question them and turn them around. This powerful practice of self-inquiry has unraveled countless stories and beliefs that were causing me stress.

Here Are Some Ways to Use The Work with Pain

All you have to do is listen to what your mind is saying about the chronic pain. The stressful thoughts are sitting there, ready to be written down and questioned using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work. So the first thing I do is sit down with a piece of paper, close my eyes, and start listening. Whenever I hear a stressful thought, I write it down.

You can question anything about the pain: from the statements of fact to the interpretations of those facts. Here is an example from when I used to have chronic back pain.

Fact: My back hurts.

Interpretations: It will never go away. It’s constant. It’s only going to get worse. I no longer can enjoy life. I have to be very careful. It’s not fair. I can’t handle it. It is unbearable. It zaps all of my energy. I want it to go away. I don’t ever want it to come back. I’m getting old. I wish I was young again.

As you can see, there are two sources of pain here: the physical body, and the mind’s interpretations. In my experience, the interpretations are even more debilitating than the physical pain. And now I have both!

Questioning My Thoughts about Pain

In addition to consulting practitioners to help with the physical body, I then question the thoughts I wrote down about the pain. I sometimes question the actual fact, “My back hurts.” And more often, I question all of my interpretations (my story) about the chronic pain. This is what is causing my emotional pain.

To help identify these interpretations, I often use the prompt, “And it means that…,” For example, “My back hurts, and it means that 1) I’m not perfect anymore, 2) I don’t have money for treatment, 3) my life is over.” Then I question each thought I wrote down.

If you want support in doing this work, sign up for a private session with me, or join The Work 101 online course starting on Sunday, June 10.

Registration for The Work 101 closes on Friday.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“All suffering is mental. It has nothing to do with the body or with a person’s circumstances. You can be in great pain without any suffering at all.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

I’m Now Using Canadian Dollars

Vaseux Lake

Vaseux Lake, British Columbia, just a few minutes from where I live.

We Moved to Canada at the End of March

My partner is Canadian and I’m American. We have been splitting our time between Canada and the US for the past few years. Now we have moved to Canada.

Over the past couple of months we have been trying to simplify everything. I am closing my US corporation (Todd Smith, LLC). I will now be working as a sole-proprietor in Canada. I can’t tell you how much simpler, and less expensive, that is.

We also sold our house in Vermont, so we no longer have to pay two mortgages. Again, much simpler. In fact, we’re excited that we were able to put solar panels on our roof here in Canada and have ordered a new electric car (Nissan Leaf) that will soon run from our own solar power.

It’s Nice to Be in One Place

It’s simpler, easier, and less expensive.

Continuing in that mode of simplification, I will now be charging for all of my services in Canadian dollars. I have changed all of the prices listed on my website to equivalents, or near equivalents, in Canadian Dollars.

Some prices have been increased. One has decreased. Many remain the same.

Here Is a List of the New Prices in Canadian Dollars (CAD)

You will also find the approximate exchange rate in US dollars (USD), Euros (EUR), and Australian dollars (AUD).

Private Sessions (price increase of about 16%)

30-Minute Sessions: $75 CAD (approx. $58 USD, €50 EUR, $77 AUD)
One-Hour Sessions: $150 CAD (approx. $116 USD, €99 EUR, $153 AUD)
90-Minute Sessions: $225 CAD (approx. $173 USD, €149 EUR, $230 AUD)
Two-Hour Sessions: $300 CAD (approx. $231 USD, €198 EUR, $306 AUD)

Courses and Workshops (no price increase)

The Work 101: $175 CAD (approx. $135 USD, €116 EUR, $179 AUD)

Inquiry Circle Prep Course: $100 CAD (approx. $75 USD, €65 EUR, $102 AUD)

Personal Retreats (price decrease of 22%)

Personal Retreats: $600/day CAD (approx. $463 USD, €397 EUR, $612 AUD per day)

Ongoing Practice Group (no price increase)

Inquiry Circle: $65 CAD (approx. $50 USD, €43 EUR, $66 AUD)

Products (no price increase)

Finding the Door to Inquiry (eBook): $60 CAD (approx. $46 USD, €40 EUR, $61 AUD)

The Price for The Work 101 Will Go Up After June

If you considering taking part in The Work 101, just a heads up that the price will be increasing significantly after the summer course (June 10 – July 29).

Thank you for doing The Work with me,
Todd

“What I love about The Work is that we come to see that both states—what we call bliss and what we call ordinary—are equal. One state isn’t higher than the other. There’s nothing to strive for anymore, nothing to leave behind. That’s the beauty of inquiry—it doesn’t matter where we are, it’s all good.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change the World

Emotional Trauma

haystacks along the Oregon coast

Emotional trauma is like a big black shadow blocking the view of an otherwise beautiful scene.

We All Have Traumas

A breakup, a death, an insult, an exclusion, a rape, an abuse of any kind, a loss, a failure, an injury; each of these can result in a trauma. It’s interesting though, I say “these can result in a trauma.” It’s also possible for the same events to not result in a trauma, depending on how you process them.

In other words, there are two parts to the word “trauma”: the actual traumatic event, and what the mind does with that event. If the mind escalates it and holds onto it, the trauma becomes bigger and deeper. If the mind balances it and lets it go, it does not continue to retraumatize and cause pain.

It’s the retraumatization that is the biggest cause of stress. The mind plays the event over and over trying to change the past, and feeling totally powerless. Eventually, the mind usually finds some escape: maybe to addiction, or maybe by focusing on other areas of life trying to bury the old emotional trauma and move on.

But It’s Never Really Gone

Like that shadow blocking the view, the mind is now limited. It can’t go to certain places because it could get retriggered. It’s not free. And whenever a retriggering happens, it’s a downward spiral until something pulls it out again.

This is why we’re all scared of emotional trauma. We try like crazy to prevent new traumas, and we try to avoid retriggering old traumas.

The problem is that there is no way deal with traumas. They simply have their way with us. And that is the most disempowering feeling in the world.

But It Doesn’t Have to Be that Way

In my experience, there is a way to deal with emotional traumas that gets to the root of them. I have experienced small and big traumas dissolve once I’ve used the four questions and turnarounds of The Work of Byron Katie.

In my experience, the root of any emotional trauma is the collection of stressful thoughts I am believing about the event that happened. My interpretation of the event is what makes it traumatic for me. And my belief that it shouldn’t have happened, and that it was a terrible thing.

When I start to question these thoughts around any traumatic situation, I often find that my attitude softens, and if I persevere in my inquiry, many times I find that the trauma evaporates completely in my mind. Once I see in this new way, it is no longer possible for me to go back to believing that I was a victim again.

This Is the Power of The Work

But The Work is a very personal process. It depends on how willing you are to look at the stressful thoughts that plague you, and it depends on your willingness to sit, not knowing if any answers will come, when you do the inquiry.

When self-inquiry is done in this way, wisdom from within often comes up to meet the questions. Perspectives change. Emotional traumas disappear. And laughter often takes its place.

It can help to sit with someone experienced in doing The Work to hold the mind when it wants to run away, but it can also be done alone in written form for those who are patient and willing.

The Mind Will Often Avoid This Work

It is sometimes easier to live with a blacked out area of life than to gather the courage it takes to shine the light on the shadow. The solution is simple: light is always the antidote to darkness.

Awareness is always the antidote to confusion and suffering. When The Work is used gently and with care and patience, it can be like shining a floodlight into the darkness.

But It’s Important Not to Push

I’d much rather let myself be pulled to do The Work instead of pushing myself to do it. So I respect my resistance to doing The Work. In fact, resistance is often where I start.

I sometimes begin by making a list of fears and other stressful thoughts related to the idea of doing The Work on an old emotional trauma:

I won’t be able to handle it.
It is too powerful.
I will end up making it worse.
I have to resolve it completely this time.
I have to do it alone.
It’s too shameful to work with someone else.

When I question my stressful thoughts about doing The Work on the emotional trauma, I often find myself drawn to explore it a little deeper.

Step by step, I follow my confidence when it leads me to go in deeper. And I follow my resistance and fear when they show me I need to back off and do The Work on the resistance thoughts instead.

There Is No Push that Way

I may even take a break for months, or years, before feeling drawn to work on a trauma again. I am in control, listening, responding to my experience and getting support when needed to do my work.

I always hold that “I don’t have to do this work.” This gives me the greatest freedom. Life will go along just fine if I don’t do this work. It is a luxury to question traumatic thoughts using The Work, not a necessity.

When I see it this way, I put no pressure on myself at all. And ironically, that’s when I feel most drawn to do The Work.

Gain confidence in doing The Work by taking The Work 101 course with me. The more you develop the muscle of self-inquiry, the better it can serve you.

Have a great week,
Todd

“At some point, you may want to go to the deepest pain inside you and clear it up. Do The Work until you see your part in it.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Vulnerability Is One of the Keys in Doing The Work

water

If you dip your toe in the water or go completely under water, you will get wet either way.

How Far Are you Willing to Venture In?

The Work of Byron Katie will meet you wherever you are. You don’t have to go deep. Just a dipping a toe into The Work will take you a step closer to yourself. It is a perfectly self-regulating process.

Pushing yourself faster than you are willing to go is not helpful, just as trying to swim in the deep end too quickly can be dangerous. But continuing to venture deeper as confidence and skills increase is also wonderful.

How else can you see the beautiful coral reefs and fish? One toe in the water is great, but when you’re ready, a deep dive is too.

My Suggestion Is to Keep Inching Deeper

For me this means bringing the stuff that’s really bothering you to The Work. There are small issues which are great to work, and there are big issues that are also great to work. I tend to alternate between small and big depending on how I’m feeling. (Of course, there is no such thing as small or big—every issue is small and every issue is big!)

But I do notice that there are certain subjects that I consistently avoid doing The Work on. These are the areas where I’m not so sure I’ll be able to do a neat, clean piece of inquiry wrapped up with a bow.

These are the areas where I’m totally confused, embarrassed, and ashamed.

I Have to Gauge my Readiness to Expose This Stuff

If I’m just not ready, that’s okay. It will wait patiently, though probably it will eventually explode again and again until I decide to work it. But those explosive moments are also perfect starting points for doing The Work.

In any case, if I decide to work these scary, uncontrollable areas that I try to keep sealed up in Pandora’s box, I have to understand that all hell may actually break loose. I have to be willing for it to happen. Otherwise, I’m just being mean to myself to push myself there.

Confidence in The Work comes when I start with my small issues and find some peace with them. As I trust the process more and more, and as my ability to not beat myself up or go into defense while doing The Work improves, I can take on my deepest fears, my biggest angers, my saddest stories.

And When I Do, I Step Out of the World of Control

I am in pure darkness, feeling my way along using the four questions and turnarounds as my guide out of darkness and pain. Each step of The Work allows me to choose between more pain and less pain like a game of warmer/colder allowing me to feel my way home.

As your experience in doing The Work increases, I encourage you to go there. The more you bring to The Work, the more you get out of it. So bring your worst side when you’re ready. That’s the side that needs the most loving attention. And that’s the side that will be most grateful when it’s done.

It takes courage to show up as you really are. But it’s the only way I know to transform the shame into clarity.

If you want support being held as you do this work, that’s what private sessions are for.

Have a great week,
Todd

“We’re so secretive about what makes us feel ashamed that we even try to keep it from ourselves, clinging to our pretense of self-respect while our thoughts run on about how terrible we are and how unforgivable the things we’ve done. Secrets cry out for inquiry. You can’t be free if you’re hiding. And in the end, the things we’re ashamed of turn out to be the greatest gifts we have to give.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is It True?

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