beach waterfall

You could be in paradise and still do The Work.

You Might Think The Work Is About Being Happy

But it’s not.

It’s about being peaceful.

And even that is not true.

If anything, The Work is about not being anything.

It’s about being free instead.

How Much Freedom Do You Want?

Some people use The Work just to take the edge off of the pain. And they stop as soon as the pain decreases. With this approach, The Work is like an aspirin that sits in the medicine cabinet and is only brought out when there is a headache.

Others use The Work as an ongoing meditation. A way to step closer to themselves. With this approach, pain is often still the starting point for inquiry, but they keep going even after the pain has subsided because they are interested in deeper balance.

This is like getting some sleep to cure a headache, but then continuing to get extra sleep going forward to prevent further headaches.

This Is Why I Like the Slow, Steady Approach

I’m not looking for quick fixes when I do The Work. I prefer the slow approach of questioning all of the thoughts that originally caused of my suffering. For me, it doesn’t matter if the pain goes away after working Line 1 of a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. I could quit at that point. I’m no longer in pain. But I don’t.

I tend to work almost all of the statements on my worksheet, even if they don’t stress me anymore. The reason is that the seeds of pain are still lying there in the other thoughts I wrote down.

Even if the thoughts I wrote are no longer active for me, they are still there, sitting unquestioned, waiting for the next opportunity to sprout. When I question them, it makes it that much harder for me to fall for them again.

I Actually Make the Most Progress After The Pain Has Lifted

Instead of stopping a worksheet once the pain has subsided, that’s exactly when I start setting my teeth into the worksheet. Now, there is no resistance as I do my work. And there is no distracting motive to “feel better.” Now, I’m just doing The Work for the sake of truth.

This is the sweetest, most unbiased place for me to do The Work. And I would miss it if I stopped working my worksheet once the pain had stopped.

The Same Is True for New Worksheets

The more I do The Work, the less crises there seem to be in my life. I tend to have a more even keel as I believe my thoughts less. That means that extreme suffering is less and less the motive for doing The Work. And I don’t have to wait for it to start.

Instead, I tend to write a new worksheet, or write a new one-liner to question, just because I’m in the habit of doing The Work. This means that my worksheets are sometimes very minor. Ironically, when I work these kind of worksheets, I tend to have even more insights than I do with the painful worksheets. They are such low pressure worksheets that my mind is much freer to explore as I work.

Sometimes I Work Situations that Are Not Painful at All

Instead of pain, I may notice just some attachment to something that I don’t want to lose. It’s not pain, but it’s the slightest rub of discomfort that prompts me to do The Work.

I don’t need to wait until I lose it, I can set myself free of that attachment even while I still have it. It’s just a matter of questioning what I think I want.

Have a great week,

“When you attach to any identity, you suffer. Only the unidentified mind is free.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

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The Trap of “I Need to Do an Amazing Job”

stone carver at work

Devotion to one’s craft is wonderful but obsessing over results is debilitating.

This Is a Trap That’s Easy to Fall Into

I’ve spent much of my life trying to do an amazing job at everything I do. And in many respects, I’ve succeeded. But it’s never been enough. And it’s always been a extra burden of stress for me.

When I was young, I didn’t want to just pass my classes in school, I wanted to do them perfectly. This meant that studying didn’t just take an average amount of time, it meant that it had to take all of the available time.

In business, I did the same. As a photographer, I obsessed over the details, and went above and beyond the extra mile for my clients. And again, it took all of my time.

I Was Always Motivated by Wanting to Look Good

I wanted to look good to my clients, I wanted to look good to my family, I wanted people to be amazed. And basking in their amazement, I hoped I would finally be somebody.

But not only did it not work (which was depressing), it took all my time and all my energy. And a part of me rebelled. A part of me always wanted to get out of my job, or out of my school assignments—to just take time for me.

So I did that too. I lived in an ashram for a decade. And it was good. But even there I tried to be the perfect student of enlightenment. And again the pressure. Again the frustration. The same trap.

It Was Not Until I Did The Work on it that I Found Some Peace

I have questioned many variations of “I need to do an amazing job” in different situations, and what I’ve found is that it is not true. I don’t need to do an amazing job at all. I just need to do an average job. That’s good enough to make a living, to learn new things, to grow spiritually, to keep a balanced life.

In fact, this article is a great example of this for me right now. For some reason, the thoughts are not crystal clear as I’m writing. They’re still just forming. And I notice the impulse to scrap it and start over and keep researching and refining my thoughts before posting this.

But as a result of what I’ve found through inquiry, I am practicing a different approach. And I really love it. The approach of “good enough.” Everything is a work in progress for me now. I don’t need to wow anyone. Things start tiny and sloppy and grow from there. That’s good enough for me.

It’s less and less about pleasing others, and more and more about me just honestly doing what I can at each step and moving on. It’s less about glorious end goals, and more and more about just doing the simple job at hand.

Here Are Some Ideas of How to Do The Work on This

If you have similar perfectionistic tendencies. Here are some ways you can do The Work.

1. Ask yourself, “Who am I trying to please?” in the situation where you are trying to do it perfectly. Then write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on them. For me, it was my mom who used to both expect high grades and praise me when I got them. But she shows up now in other people in different situations.

2. Ask yourself, “Who am I afraid will disapprove?” Again, this leads to a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, or some one-liners about that person.

3. Ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish?” Write it down, and then question, “I want to accomplish…” I love questioning my motives, and finding more effective and more peaceful action without them.

4. And finally, question, “I need to do an amazing job.” It can be so freeing to question this one.

Have a great week,

“The irony is that the struggle to win love and approval makes it very difficult to experience them. Chronic approval seekers don’t realize that they are loved and supported not because of but despite their efforts. And the more strenuously they seek, the less likely they are to notice.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love Is That True?

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Peaceful Coexistence with Addictions

balancing rock

Every addiction has a balance point.

Active Addiction Is an Internal War

One one side you have the attraction of the senses towards the object. And on the other hand you have the internal resistance to indulging. That’s the essence of the battle.

Sometimes the senses dominate, leading to indulgence. Sometimes resistance dominates, leading to abstinence. And round and round it goes: temptation, resistance, weakening of resistance, indulgence, remorse, resolve to resist more strongly next time, temptation, extra resistance, weakening of resistance, indulgence, extra remorse, extra resolve to resist more strongly, etc.

The cycle of addiction is a vicious cycle with ever increasing intensity of resistance and sensory experience. It is exhausting, and wears down the mind, the self-esteem, and even the senses.

Where Is the Balance Point in this War?

Many of us focus on trying to get rid of the addiction, often even doing The Work with this purpose in mind. But this doesn’t usually get too far. Because it is biased. And The Work doesn’t work so well when you’re doing it with a bias.

It’s like taking sides in a war—selling weapons to the side of resistance to addiction while trying to destroy the side of indulgence.

But true peace doesn’t come from victory of one side over the other. If resistance to addiction wins, there may be temporary, external peace. But true peace comes only when resistance and indulgence come into balance with each other.

This Can Mean Doing The Work on the Motives for doing The Work

If the motive for doing The Work is to get rid of addiction, then this motive needs to be questioned. You can literally question, “I need The Work to help me with my addiction.”

This is radical work.

It means literally stepping out into no man’s land. Who would I be without the thought, “I need The Work to help me with my addiction”? I would not be trying to get rid of the addiction. I would see it as the teacher that it is. I would not be pushing addiction away. I would not be using The Work as a weapon against addiction. I would be open to it, unafraid of it, meeting it, listening to it.

As Soon as I Push, I Engage the War

Pushing against the senses is war. And pushing towards the senses is war. For me the balance point lies in neither pushing towards sensory gratification nor pushing against sensory gratification.

At first, this seems like permission to indulge, but it is a really subtle balance point. Neither pursuing pleasure, not fighting against it—that is the neutral place. And in the beginning, the mind cannot land there. It is constantly slipping off to one side or the other. But with practice, in my experience, it can be held.

It feels like the balance between surrender (that the senses are more powerful than me—so resistance is futile) and awareness (that sensory pleasure is not really what I’m interested in). That’s where I can float between not stepping onto the slippery slope of temptation yet not trying to destroy temptation either.

It is a peaceful coexistence (non-interest and non-resistance living side by side). Then I am free. There is nothing I need to avoid. And nothing I want to pursue. I am in a state of balance that is no longer a fragile balance, but rather a balance that can roll with anything that comes—even full indulgence if it comes again, or full resistance if it comes again.

Here Are Some of the Ways I Have Done The Work on This

I like to question thoughts on both sides of addiction:

On the indulgence side
I want to indulge.
I deserve to have fun.
I want to feel good.
It feels so good.
I’m not really addicted.
It’s too hard to resist.
The cravings are too strong.

On the resistance side
I need to stop this.
It’s out of control.
It’s shameful to be addicted.
I shouldn’t be addicted.
Addiction is bad.
I’m a bad person.
I need to be stronger.
I need to resist more strongly.

It Takes a Gentle Approach to Question Both Sides

The mind can start to spin if you go too fast.

I like to take each stressful thought when it comes up naturally in my life. Instead of making a list as I did above, I just wait for the next stressful thought about addiction to arise, and question it. That keeps it real. And ensures that I’m only balancing the part that needs to be balanced in any given moment.

The list above is just a reference for the kinds of thoughts that can come up on both sides of balance. In my experience, it’s okay to question even resistance thoughts. That was the missing piece for me to find my balance point.

Have a great weekend,

“But here’s addiction: A concept arises that says that I should or I shouldn’t smoke, I believe it, and I move from the reality of the present. Without inquiry, we believe thoughts that aren’t true for us, and these thoughts are the reasons that we smoke or drink. Who would you be without your ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’?” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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Dropping into Question One

two flowers

I miss smelling both flowers if I don’t land on one.

The Ego Loves Noncommitment

It loves to hover. The ego loves generalizations, theory and intellectual analysis. But what the ego doesn’t like is direct testing. Because when you test something, the ego’s theories can be debunked. When you test something, the ego is no longer in control.

For that reason, the ego has many strategies for not dropping into question one of The Work. One of those strategies is trying to answer the question with the intellect.

Question 1 Is “Is it true?”

You could take any statement and analyze it forever and you would never get to a 100% yes or no for this question. You could hire teams of researchers and spend millions of dollars trying to come to a conclusive answer to this simple question. Even in the world of scientific research, there is no such thing as 100% certainty.

All this means just one thing: the intellect is useless when it comes to finding absolute truth. So the question is asking the impossible. “Is it true?” It’s a real hummer of a question.

And it goes nowhere until you stop trying to use the intellect to answer it, and ask the heart instead.

The Heart Doesn’t Care about Reason

The heart doesn’t need proof. And the heart, when asked, can find a decisive opinion about anything. It is only the intellect that discounts, overrides, judges, or suppresses the honest opinions of the heart.

And the ego loves this, because it postpones getting caught in another lie. It’s business as usual for the ego. As long as the intellect is ruling, the answers of the heart get censored in this way.

The Work, on the Other Hand, Is Only Interested in the Heart

If you want to stay on the surface—stay safe—when doing The Work, keep the analysis going. You’ll be able to talk up and down both sides of the issue and land nowhere. In fact, you’ll probably come up with things like, “It’s kind of true?” or “I’m not sure,” or “I can see both sides.”

That’s not it.

When you do that, the ego wins. You have successfully avoided answering question 1.

Here’s Another Favorite Way of Doing This

Say “yes” to question 1 while already planning to say “no” to question 2, “Can you absolutely know it’s true?”

My ego loves this one. It’s so subtle. I can look like I’m being decisive (after all I’m giving a clear yes to question 1 and a clear no to question 2). But really I’m using this trick to not really land.

I sail through questions 1 and 2 untouched, with full ego intact. Why bother even asking these questions if I’m not really going to answer them?

Dropping in Means Dropping in

It’s not convenient. I can’t crank out The Work fast when I truly drop into questions 1 and 2. These questions stop me dead in my tracks if I really take them seriously. Answers don’t come quickly. I get stumped easily if I really try to answer them.

And that’s what The Work is about. The Work is meditation. It is not the answering from the “I know” mind that sets me free. Otherwise, I’d already be free. It’s the dropping in beneath all reason, touching the unknown knowing of the heart that transforms my mind.

Question 1 and question 2 are simply opportunities to drop in deeply. That is the power of these questions. Letting the heart speak for once no matter what it looks like.

It Might Take an Hour to Listen to the Heart

It might take all day. Or just a minute. But everything else can wait. This is the skill that does not get practiced much for me. This is the muscle that needs strengthening. If I could drop into my heart and speak from there at all times, I would never need The Work.

Question 1 is simply a chance to ask myself without agenda as I look at the situation I am working.

Have a great week,

“Now, the answer to the first two questions has one syllable only: it’s either yes or no. So watch how your mind is going to say, “Well, not really, but, well, yeah, she really did.” That’s not it. You need to get still until a clear answer of yes or no appears.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

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United Nations building

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

Do You Feel Called to Change the World?

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

What I Hear in This Is a Perceived Conflict

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

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

The Work Only Points Me Away from Suffering

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

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

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

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

And That’s Where True Alchemy Begins

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

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

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

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

The Work and Service Can Be Done Together

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

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

What’s Your Experience?

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

Have a great weekend,

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

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crop dusting

The idea of dominating nature is so last century!

Stressful Thoughts Are Hard to Identify, Is That True?

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

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

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

This Is Why Questioning Motives Is Valuable

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

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

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

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

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

Domination Over Nature Is Old Fashioned

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

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

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

The Mind Is Nature

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

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

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

Have a great week,

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

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Recent Participant Reviews of The Work 101


Deepen your experience using this simple tool of The Work

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

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

“Well Recommended” – William

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

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

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

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

“Such a Good Teacher” – Kathleen

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

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

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

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

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

“Highly Recommended” – Liz

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

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

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

“100% Recommended” – Marjie

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

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

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

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

“The Work 101” – Ty

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

“Love the work 101” – Maria

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

“The Best Way to Learn The Work” – Netsirk

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

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

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

“Awesome, Thorough, Delightful” – Zoe

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

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

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

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

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

The Next Course Starts January 15, 2018

If you’re serious about going deeply into The Work, I’d love to see you there.

Have a great weekend,

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

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abandoned building

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

Venting Is Powerful

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

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

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

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

It Allows You to Breathe Again

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

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

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

The Work Combines Venting and Inquiry

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

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

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

That’s Why I Love The Work

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

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

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

Venting Is Still the First Step for Me

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

Have a great week,

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

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

This Question Seems Strange at First

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

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

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

At First you Might Think That This Question Is Not Relevant

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

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

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

How I Treat Them in my Mind Counts

The Work is only about my internal experience.

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

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

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

This Question Shows Me How Low Down I Can Be

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

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

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

When I See This, My Attachment to my Belief Loosens

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

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

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

Subquestions Are Always Optional

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

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

Subquestions are always optional.

Have a great weekend,

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

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The Danger of Questioning Certain One-Liners


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

The Work Is Not About Justifying

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

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

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

This “Trap” Is Basically a Form of Spinning

Let’s go back to the apple analogy.

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

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

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

How Is This Spinning?

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

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

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

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

It’s Not a Problem when You Have Experience

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

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

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

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

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

But When You’re New, This Can Be Confusing

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

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

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

I Invite You to Keep It Simple

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

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

Have a great week,

“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

If you like this article, feel free to forward the link to friends, family or colleagues. Or share the link on Facebook or other social media. If you have thoughts you’d like to share about it, please leave your comments below.

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