What If Bad Relationships Were Good?
I Used To Think I Was In A Really Bad Relationship
I felt trapped and unhappy for many reasons. First of all, my partner is a strong, bold, say-it-as-it-is type of person. He doesn’t mind arguing, or getting in your face to make a point. But that approach of communication was completely foreign to me.
I grew up in a family where I never saw my parents argue once. Ever! And when they divorced, when I was 16, it was a total shock to me.
I Thought We Had A Perfect Family
Communication in my family was so “subtle” that I didn’t even know how hypersensitive my antenna had become. When someone asked a simple question, I thought I had to read into what they really meant, and wanted. I thought it was just normal to be that sensitive.
So, naturally, my partner’s arguing and direct speech was completely overwhelming to me. It was like my hearing aids were turned all the way up! I would literally collapse inside, and go into an internal rage for days, any time he raised his voice.
I Tried My Best To Hide It
But the rage came through in many ways: in my silent treatment, in my passive aggression with him, in the way I put him down in front of others, and in the way I occasionally lost my temper completely, yelling, and even slapping and hitting a few times.
I had no idea what to do with all the emotion I was feeling. It felt like it was all his fault, and I was a major victim of his abuse.
But it turns out that that just wasn’t true.
As Luck Would Have It, My Partner Introduced Me To A Way Out Of That Pain
We were in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia, July 2006, when he suggested I get the book Loving What Is, by Byron Katie. He said, “She’s the real thing.” Somehow I trusted him, and got the book. And when I read it, I got really excited.
I felt like I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. At last, I had found a process that might allow me to find some peace in this stressful relationship.
The Process Described In That Book Is Called The Work Of Byron Katie
It’s a process of self-inquiry. And it really appealed to me. The elegance of it. The balance of it. The down-to-earth nature of it. And the power of this simple process of questioning what you believe.
Even though I’ve been doing The Work almost daily since that time, I’m amazed that it still appeals me. I love this simple process. By questioning any thought that’s stressful, and turning it around, I have come to take responsibility for my own happiness. And that is really freeing.
Recently, My Partner Got Mad At Me Because I Broke A Bottle Of Milk
I was amazed to see how little it affected me. There was a little recoil inside me at being blamed. But I quickly saw that it was my fault.
I saw that he had a right to be angry. And I also knew that I hadn’t meant to break it, so I didn’t come down hard on myself. I saw my innocence. And I saw his innocence. I let him have his anger, which passed quickly. And I didn’t lose my balance.
That would have been a three day fight, and a near break-up experience some years ago.
But Freedom Didn’t Just Drop Out Of The Sky
I wasn’t transformed by magic. Nor am I done with my work today. What freedom I now experience in my relationship has been earned through daily practice of The Work over years. It’s a process. And I find that each step of this process is enjoyable. It is a process of unraveling the stressful beliefs that bind me.
The Key For Me Is Daily Practice
Since 2006, I have more or less practiced The Work five days a week for about an hour each day. Sometimes it’s more like a half hour, or ten minutes. Sometimes I go a while without doing it at all. And sometimes I go deeply into it, spending all day in The Work, like when I’m at a retreat or workshop.
But this regular practice over time has given me a chance to work a lot of concepts. There’s no pressure when I know I’ll be back doing The Work again tomorrow. I can take my time and go deep, answering the questions as a true meditation. I know that, over time, I will get a chance to work many stressful thoughts. And knowing this allows me to relax, and just be there for the one I’m working on today.
Also, Regular Practice Takes The Goal Orientation Out Of Doing The Work
With regular practice, I don’t think, “Today is going to be a big breakthrough!” and put all that pressure on myself.
Instead, I just show up to do The Work, and enjoy it. Sometimes there’s a big insight, and sometimes not.
With regular practice, I’m not concerned so much with the hills and valleys of my practice, or some big end-goals. I just enjoy doing The Work. And ironically, that’s when it works best.
The Purpose Of This Website Is To Support You In Making The Work A Regular Practice
Of course, this website cannot actually support you. Only you can support yourself in the practice of The Work. But my desire is to support you to support yourself.
For me, when I’m left alone, I sometimes don’t get around to doing The Work. This website serves me too. It is the power of the group that often keeps me in my practice. And this is what I also offer you.
Otherwise, the tool of self-inquiry just sits rusting in my toolshed, and life continues as it always has, with me the victim. For me, the value I have gotten from The Work has come from doing it.
The Backbone Of Support From This Website Is The Weekly Newsletter
Here’s how “The Work As Meditation” newsletter supports you in your practice:
1. It provides a clear understanding of what The Work is, and how to do it. If you’re new to it, or confused about it, or doubtful in any way, it gives understanding of the process. And if you’re experienced in The Work, it offers insightful articles, addressing specific issues that come up as you deepen your practice.
3. It brings you video and audio recordings of me facilitating or being facilitated in The Work. These can be very valuable as you explore different areas of The Work, and can be an inspiration to go into areas you haven’t yet explored.
4. It provides a regular, gentle reminder once a week to say that The Work is still here any time you need it. Many people find that this regular delivery of articles and videos on The Work helps keep them in the practice.
5. It gives you access to restricted material, including special reports, articles, videos, and mp3 recordings. These resources are available to subscribers only, and do not show up on the website at large.
Testimonials For The Newsletter
Lucia Maya from Tucson, AZ, says: “I get a lot of email. So I looked at, would it really be something of substance? And would it really be something new for me? And I looked at, how frequently was it going to come.
“I have really enjoyed it. What I find is that, for one thing, it’s extremely well written. You do a really great job with the actual prose. It’s in a style that is very understandable. And it gives me new information, new insights. And one of the things I like best is that you bring in your own personal story. So it’s not just you talking about someone else doing the work, it’s personal to you. And so it’s very easy to relate to it.”
Rick from Cambridge, Ontario, says: “I probably practice The Work once every three days, rather than once every day. And that’s about what fits into my schedule. I’m like the type of person that can get diverted very easily.
“So when you send me an email, I’m reminded how much I enjoy The Work, and how much I trust it. Like, that it’s there. And all I need is a gentle reminder to say, “Yeah, it’s there when you need it.” So I like the fact that it is given to me on a regular schedule.”
Susan from Palo Alto, California, says: “I especially appreciate your honesty and your focus on general every day thoughts. You help me see how the work can be applied to run-of-the-mill daily thoughts. Your newsletter is well organized, simple to read, and includes wonderful photos and links to appropriate videos. I get new insights from reading it.
“Your newsletters hit the nail on the head. Your point of view is honest and refreshing. I so appreciate the way you keep the Work alive and working for me.”
Bonus: Get Todd’s Checklist for the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet
When you sign-up for the newsletter, you will get a valuable checklist to help you go deeper with the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. This checklist comes from many years of experience writing and facilitating worksheets, and studying this process through Byron Katie’s Institute for The Work.
My hope is that it will allow you to more clearly identify the thoughts which cause you stress in any given situation so that you can question them.
Before You Subscribe
I invite you to spend some time reading articles I’ve sent out in the past, to get a feeling for the newsletter. And then, and only then, sign-up for the newsletter. You’ll find lots of thoughtful articles, with practical tips for doing The Work, in the links below. To subscribe, click the red button below. Or click on one of these links to choose from over 40 articles listed here.