They Are Not Doing The Work, Is It True?

sailing with no wind

Just because there’s no wind, does it mean they’re not sailing?

Have you Ever Felt Stressed Doing The Work with Someone?

For me, it happens sometimes. Especially when I think, “They’re not really doing The Work.”

This judgment pops in when I’m facilitating, and I immediately feel annoyed, powerless, wanting it to be over, or I start taking over and trying to do their work for them.

And I sometimes feel quite justified in thinking, “They are not doing The Work.” After all, they are going into defense, justification, avoidance, etc. In fact, Byron Katie even instructs us to invite people back to The Work when they stop answering the questions. That’s part of the role of a facilitator.

But My Ego Doesn’t Like Bringing People Back to The Work

My ego likes to be the good guy. The one who people like. The nice guy. I don’t want to be the policeman. The bad guy.

So guess what? Instead of inviting someone back to the questions when they go into defense, I sometimes let them wander, while I silently feel frustrated inside.

That’s when the thought, “They’re not really doing The Work,” comes in. But I don’t see it as a useful observation, an indication to invite them back. I experience it as stress.

My ego sees it as a threat, “They are putting me in a difficult situation where I have to bring them back, and they’re not going to like me.” So, like a bad parent, I let them do whatever they want. Instead of bringing them back, I “comfort” myself by thinking, “They’re not doing The Work.” What an experience of powerlessness!

So I Did The Work on it Recently

I literally questioned, “She is not doing The Work, is it true?” And the turnaround, “She is doing The Work” made me stop and reconsider everything.

I’ve been defining “doing The Work” as finding deep insights, being super vulnerable, open, and humble, and not wandering into story.

But as I considered the turnaround, “She is doing The Work,” I saw that my definition of “doing The Work” was not so open minded. When I thought about it, the most basic definition of “doing The Work” for me is “answering the four questions and looking for turnarounds and genuine examples of how the turnarounds could be true.”

This Is a Very Different Definition

My first definition was results oriented: getting insights was important. And it was also process oriented: got follow the guidelines perfectly. And it was also state of mind dependent: if you happen to be open, then you’re doing The Work. If you happen to be closed or defensive, then you’re not.

That’s not a very fair way to judge.

My new definition feels much fairer. If my client is doing her best to answer the four questions, she is doing The Work. If she is looking for turnarounds and looking for examples, she is doing The Work

It Doesn’t Matter If She Doesn’t Find Anything!

It’s still The Work if you’re looking.

And if she goes into defense, or story, when trying to answer the four questions, or if she resists the turnarounds, that is her best first attempt to answer to the questions. She is doing The Work. The Work just threw her for a loop. That’s all.

Of course, these questions would throw her for a loop! They are hard questions! From this point of view, I see nothing but honesty in her attempt to avoid those questions, or to reject a turnaround. She is still doing The Work as best she can in that moment.

The Purpose of me Seeing This Is Simple

It frees me from judging her. When I see her as “doing The Work” even when she is rebelling against the process, I no longer feel powerless. I no longer am trying to change her. I no longer am trying to push her to have insights. I no longer need anything from her.

I simply witness her going through her process. I watch with fascination as the questions drop into her mind and heart. The very fact that they make her uncomfortable and defensive is proof that the questions are stirring something inside of her. The Work is working.

All I need to do is allow that stirring to take place. And invite her back to do it again and again as we go through each question and turnaround. Maybe I’ll ask a question two or three times if she keeps running away from it. Or maybe I’ll just keep moving to the next question or turnaround, or to the next statement to work.

My job is not to make sure she has insights. My job is to keep bringing her in contact with these questions. That way she is still sailing even if we just sit in the boat and “go nowhere.” Is it even possible to go nowhere?

I find this very freeing and relieving.

Have a great weekend,

“If your answers are shallow and limited, that’s all right with me, because I see that it’s all the depth that’s required in your world right now. If you seem to make no headway whatsoever, I understand that the illusion you’re holding on to is precious for you, and if you want to keep it, that’s what I want. Or if, on the contrary, the bottom falls out as you’re answering the questions, and everything you thought you knew drops away, and you fall into the abyss of reality, I love that you’ve given that to yourself…” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy