Have You Ever Done a “Positive” Worksheet?

Seeing this beautiful trim is a positive experience, but it could become stressful if I get attached to it.

Most Worksheets Start with a Stressful Situation

That’s how you write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. You identify a time when you got triggered. A time when you had a stress reaction. And you revisit that moment in your mind to write down all the stressful thoughts going on for you in that situation.

But I love breaking the rules. Or rather, I love proving to myself that there are no rules.

So I experimented recently with writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on a “positive” situation. I put “positive” in quotes because, if I’m completely honest about it, there was a very mild feeling of stickiness mixed in with all that positive feeling of the moment.

What Was my Situation?

I was about nine years old. I was working in the yard with my granddaddy. I remember right where we were at the end of the driveway by the culvert pipe. He complimented my by saying, “You stick with the job until it’s done.”

This was a moment of approval from my granddaddy. I felt he was proud of me. And I became proud of myself. In that moment, my identity as the person who sticks with the job until it’s done was born. That’s why I remember the moment so clearly. A big part of me was born that day.

And I have referred back to that moment a thousand times over my life, each time reconfirming my identity as someone who sticks with the job to the very end. It even became a justification for what was sometimes an imbalanced obsession with completing things. I was bound by not wanting to lose that approval from my grandfather. I didn’t want to let him down.

So I Wrote a Positive Worksheet

Line 1 (situation):

I am happy with Granddaddy because he approves of my work ethic.

Line 2 (wants):

I want him to be proud of me.
I want him to keep liking me.

Line 3 (shoulds):

He should point out to everyone what a good worker I am.
He should keep seeing me as a good worker.

Line 4 (needs):

I need him to keep approving of my way of working.
I need him to never be disappointed in me.

Line 5 (judgments):

He is proud of me, approving.

Line 6 (don’t ever want):

I don’t ever want him to take back his compliment about me.

And I’m Having a Blast Working It

For example, without the thought that Granddaddy approves of my work ethic, it was just a sweet moment, like when my Granddaddy reached in his pocket and gave me a dime the last time I saw him in the hospital. Or the moment when he would help us write our letters to Santa Claus at Christmas. Or when he would have candy in his pocket for us.

Without the thought that he approves of my work ethic, I would just feel love for him. I would not be bound to always finish the job. I would be free. I would be myself. Flexible and always changing. Even aware of my tendency to finish things, but not making it a pivotal point on which hangs my grandfather’s approval.

I Invite you to Try it Out

I’m noticing that my identities are often hidden deeply inside of my positive emotions. Doing inquiry on these positive situations is unraveling my hidden bondage to these false identities.

Have you played with this kind of work? I’d love to hear your experience. And if you haven’t, I encourage you to give it a try.

Have a great weekend,

“My entire life, my entire identity, had been built on the trust and uninquiring innocence of a child. Are you this kind of child? Through this Work, your toys and fairy tales are laid aside as you begin to read the book of true knowledge, the book of yourself.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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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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