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How Do You Disagree With Someone When You Do The Work?

Last updated on May 26, 2016

snowy road

If you don’t like snow and you do The Work on it, you may find that you actually do kind of like it. But does that mean that you can’t move to a warmer climate?

A Client Recently Asked Me This Question

She has been doing The Work on her wife, who had an affair. She wrote, “If you understand someone’s motivation for doing something and feel compassion for them, how do you then disagree with them?

“For example, I may reach the point where I really understand my wife having an affair, but then how do I say, ‘I don’t want to be with you,’ if I really understand her motivation? Doesn’t understanding her mean the same as forgiving? And if I forgive, then I will want to be with her.”

This Is Such a Great Question

And it’s a point of confusion for many people.

Does forgiveness mean I have to live with someone? Does compassion mean that I can’t disagree with someone? Does love mean I have to agree?


Love is deeper than that.

Love Has Nothing To Do With Appearances

Love is an internal experience of openness. But love is not blind. Love is the opposite of blindness.

Only wanting something is blind.

Love can see clearly what doesn’t work about being with someone too.

Through inquiry, love finds understanding and compassion for someone who has hurt me. Through inquiry, my heart opens again to that person. And I can feel the blood move in my body again. Inquiry opens me up again so that I don’t have to suffer anymore.

But this is internal. What does my openness have to do with the other person? Nothing. This is my experience. I’m cleaning up my own life by doing The Work.

The Work helps me to love again. To find openness in my heart again. It does not place any demands on who I should live with. That’s up to me.

The Work Is About Taking The Charge Out of My Judgments

Once I take the charge out of my judgments, I can still make intelligent observations and “judgments” about someone, but they don’t feel charged because they are balanced with compassion.

In fact, I can make very clear decisions, yes or no, even when I have compassion for the other person. But I do it with clarity. I don’t have to use anger, or victimhood, to justify my actions. I just act out of a sense of self-responsibility.

Then, if I do say “no” to them, it is not a rejection. I am balancing love and “no” together.

Have a great week,

“People ask for many things. Once you discover that your honest answer is no, communicating it is simple when you communicate your love at the same time. The no is one part of your answer, and the acknowledgment of your love is the other part. Here are some examples of how to express your honest no to these requests and still let people know that you hear them and respect that they’re asking for what they want. Find out which words seem the most caring, natural, and true for you. Try these, and see how it feels to stay within your own integrity.

“Thank you for asking, and no.
I understand, and no.
You could be right, and no.
I care about you, and no.
I can see that it works for you, and no.
I want to please you, and no.
I’m frightened to say no to you, please support me, and the answer is no for now.”

Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?

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About the author

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.

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