Should I Work Old Stuff or New Stuff?
Here’s a Common Question
People often wonder if they should look for old situations to work, or whether they should choose more recent situations when doing The Work.
And my first thought is, “It doesn’t matter.”
My second thought is, “I prefer recent situations because I can remember them more easily.”
And my third thought is, “What is the motive behind this question?”
I Think The Motive Is to Do More Effective Work
There’s an idea that if I can work the first occurrence—maybe when I was a child—then I will be done with it once an for all.
But my experience is that this is not the key to doing effective work. What is more important for me is picking whatever is alive for me at the time.
Maybe something triggers a memory from my childhood. Suddenly, I’m drawn to do my work on a time when I was helping my grandfather clean the ditches. I was probably 8 or 9. And I remember how he complimented me on sticking with the job until it was done.
Since It Came Up for Me, I Work It
I can feel the emotion. I can feel the pride. And I know how often I referred to this moment of praise from my grandfather. I see the good of it. As well as the stress of it… becoming a workaholic so that I never let him down.
I worked this piece some time ago, and it was so helpful. I felt that I gained a lot of perspective from that worksheet on my grandfather. I no longer see my “sticking with the job” as a requirement for his love.
But That’s Not the End of the Story
I still do get caught up in workaholic tendencies, as I have my whole life. It was not just that one instance that held the key.
Instead, my life shows me instances every day where I can work this issue. For example, when my inbox is not empty at the end of the day. That is a powerful stressful moment for me to work, as powerful as anything with my grandfather.
And that’s how I do my work.
I Chip Away at It
I never know what stressful story will appear next for me to work. Maybe it will be from decades ago. Maybe it will be a situation that arose today. I don’t worry about it. I let my emotions lead the way.
My motive is not to find the one moment that holds it all. My motive is simply to follow life’s lead and work the next thing life puts on my plate.
And the simple inquiry, “I need to get to the bottom of all this, is it true?” holds me as I do The Work.
When I’m clear, I do The Work because it’s something I enjoy, not because I need to do a perfect job of cleaning up every corner of my life. That’s not necessary, nor is it even possible. It’s much more peaceful for me to do The Work simply as a hobby rather than as a compulsion.
The bottom line is: The Work is like yoga for me. There is no endpoint. I do it because I like how I feel when I do.
Have a great week,
“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
Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week, plus my checklist for the Judge-Your-Neighbor-Worksheet. Subscribe to the newsletter here.
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.