Is The Work “Telling” Me to Stay in a Bad Situation?

No matter how enlightened I am, poison ivy will still cause a rash on my skin.

Openness vs. Common Sense

A friend of mine called me recently with a question. She had worked with some rough, disrespectful clients last year. She had kept her sanity by writing a lot of Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets on them and questioning all the judgments she wrote.

Through her inquiry, she found the ways that she was causing her own suffering. And she found ways of staying peaceful while dealing with those difficult clients.

But This Year It Came Up Again

She was invited to work with the same clients again (they seemed to have liked her). And the stress began again for her just thinking about that invitation. She could see months of dealing with their same, disrespectful ways.

She called me because she was confused because she finds that, when she does The Work, she can get along with anyone. She can find ways to make anything work. So she was afraid of doing The Work on these clients because she thought she might have to work with them.

But The Work Doesn’t Work That Way

The Work is a way to make peace with any difficulty that life gives me. But it does not mean that I must go seeking out difficulty. No.

Common sense says, if I have a choice to do something that I prefer, why would I not do it? Why choose that which I don’t prefer? Unless of course challenging myself in that way is my preference. Then that’s perfectly valid too!

In other words, I am completely free. Doing The Work simply frees up even more options for me. After doing The Work, taking a job with a difficult client is equal to not taking the job. Both are doable. It means that there is nowhere that I can’t go, and that is freedom.

But It Doesn’t Mean I Should Disregard My Preferences

Just because my friend could find how to get along with her difficult clients, doesn’t mean she has to work with them again. In fact, she already proved that she doesn’t have to. She worked through it beautifully last year.

Now, if she wants to go in for version 2.0 and use these clients as an opportunity to do even more work, that’s her choice. But if version 1.0 is good enough for her, there is no rule saying she has to become super-pro at dealing with this kind of client.

Maybe she doesn’t care that much about that. Maybe she’d rather focus on other areas. That’s her choice.

The Work Just Makes It Possible to Handle Anything

And sometimes a simple no is how to handle a situation. That may be all the mastery I need in that department.

The Work is prevention. It helps me become extremely flexible and open in my mind. That’s when fear evaporates. There is nothing I need to run away from because I know I can handle anything.

But I still choose what I prefer. In fact, I choose what I like to do more often when I do The Work. Because, when I’m not running away from anything, it’s easy to simply follow my heart.

Have a great week,

“When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

  • Wendi says:

    I get this. Years ago when I first discovered The Work and the questions, I was struggling with an alcoholic husband. I, like your friend, hung in there with a difficult person while doing worksheets. But they led me to stop working on the relationship and start working ME–making myself stronger. And when I suddenly discovered something further about him, the questions and my answers shifted. My answers to “how do I feel when I believe the thought that I should stay with him”… and likewise, “how do I feel when I don’t believe that thought”… brought clarity. The wiser part of me knew it was now time to leave. And I did.

    • todd says:

      Thank you for sharing, Wendi. I love that inquiry led you to find your truth.

      My truth is the only thing that can set me free. And I never know what it is until I explore.

  • naima lahbil says:

    Powerful comment

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