What Started the War?

war cannons

Unless you ask what started the war, you may be focused on secondary issues.

What Was the Original Offense?

When you’re doing The Work of Byron Katie, it can be helpful to identify exactly what started the war. If I can find forgiveness for that original offense, chances are I can forgive the rest as well.

So I commonly ask myself, when preparing to write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, “What started the war?” This question often leads me to the heart of the matter very quickly.

Here’s How it Worked with a Client Recently

She described a situation where a conversation with her daughter upset her. She had been feeling really great. Her attention had been on spiritual matters and she was feeling a lot of peace. But as soon as her daughter told her that she was inviting one particular friend to dinner, her peace was lost and irritation filled its place.

But she had trouble writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on this situation. Was it a worksheet on her daughter for ruining her peace? No, not really. Was it a worksheet on her daughter’s friend for ruining her peace? Kind of. But not exactly.

By the time she called me, she had decided to go with a worksheet on her ego for taking things so personally. But none of these angles really hit the nail on the head for her.

So I Asked Her, “What Started the War?”

And she described a situation from some time ago where she had overheard her daughter’s friend making fun of her behind her back. Since that time, she has been irritated by her daughter’s friend, which is why she lost her peace the moment her daughter mentioned that she had invited her to dinner.

This was the original offense. So she wrote a worksheet on that original stressful moment when she overheard her talking behind her back. She wrote things like, “She should not insult me, judge me, mock me.”

And we did The Work.

The Result Was Understanding

She started to understand her daughter’s friend. And what may have been going on for her. She noticed how her mind made it out to be worse than it was. And she started to see options of what she could have done in that moment. Options like joining the conversation instead of cutting her off.

As she did her work on this original situation, she watched forgiveness start to dawn. And soon the idea of her coming over for dinner was something she was willing for and even looking forward to.

She Could Have Worked the Worksheet on Her Ego

But the ego’s reaction was secondary. What her daughter’s friend did was primary. When she questioned her thoughts on that, the ego’s reaction fell away.

On the other hand, if she had questioned her stressful thoughts about her ego instead, chances are she would have found understanding for her ego, but not necessarily forgiveness for her daughter’s friend, who was the one who had made her ego upset in the first place.

Primary causes are almost always external. Something outside of me started the war inside of me. Something triggered me. If I can identify that, my inquiry will be dealing with the primary cause of my suffering.

Have a great weekend,

“The Work invites us into the awareness of internal cause and effect.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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