When Doing The Work, Does it Matter Whose Business You’re In?

“Good fences make good neighbors,” says the famous poem by Robert Frost.

Staying on my Side of the Fence is Good

Byron Katie often invites us to ask ourselves, “Whose business are you in?” Just noticing that I’m in someone else’s business can be very helpful in bringing me back to my own business.

But it’s easy to take this principle of not being in the other person’s business too far. Especially when doing The Work.

The Work Is a Way to Come Back Home

By definition, when I’m doing The Work, I’m moving from being in someone else’s business, which is stressful, to being in my own business, which is peaceful. That’s what the whole process of doing The Work is about.

But sometimes, you have to go back into the person’s business while doing The Work in order to get out of their business and into your own.

Here’s an analogy.

Let’s Say I Hopped the Fence in the Photo Above

And let’s say that not only did I trespass but while I was there I actually built a little fort on the other person’s land.

In order to come fully back to my business, it’s not enough for me to just come back to my side of the fence. To really be free, I need to go back across the fence to his side and take down my fort.

I literally have to trespass again in order to completely remove the effect of my previous trespassing.

The Same Is True When Doing The Work

Let’s say I am judging someone for judging me.

The stressful thought that I’m working is, “He thinks that I’m a failure.” When I think that thought, I am literally trespassing over into his business. By doing The Work on this thought, my intention is to come back to my own business.

The turnarounds point me back:

Turnaround to the self: I think that I’m a failure.
Turnaround to the other: I think that he’s a failure.
Turnaround to the opposite: He doesn’t think that I’m a failure.

All of these turnarounds are an invitation for me to come back to my business. But I might end up resisting the turnaround, “He doesn’t think that I’m a failure.” I might say, “I can’t know that—that’s his business!” I discredit the turnaround before even considering it.

In Doing So, I Would Miss a Piece of Freedom

The problem is that I left my “fort” still intact on the other side of the fence. What was the “fort” that I left on his side? The “fort” is my belief that he thinks I’m a failure. I constructed that “fort” when I was over in his business in the first place, before I ever did The Work.

If I don’t cross back over into his business to dismantle that “fort,” it will keep on standing for a very long time. And a piece of me will always remain in the trespassing position.

Dismantling the “fort” means going back into his business and coming up with alternative ideas of how he may actually have not been thinking that I was a failure. I may not have any concrete evidence of this, but even circumstantial evidence—even just possibilities—are enough to help me start dismantling my idea that “he thinks that I am a failure.”

I may be simply left with “I don’t know.” But that is enough. The fort has been dismantled.

My Turnaround Examples Neutralize my Original Stressful Belief

I was in his business when I originally thought, “He thinks that I am a failure.” And I am in his business when I find examples for the turnaround, “He doesn’t think that I am a failure.” In both cases, I’ve crossed the fence.

But now the two equally possible ideas neutralize each other, and I’m free to return with an open heart to my side of the fence.

The second crossing was necessary in order for me to dismantle what I had previously constructed. Sometimes it literally takes a thorn to remove a thorn.

Have a great week,

“My love is my business; your love is yours. You tell the story that I’m this, or I’m that, and you fall in love with your story. What do I have to do with it? I’m here for your projection. I don’t have a choice in that. I am your story, no more and no less. You’ve never met me. No one has ever met anyone.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Further Reading: Do You Skip Turnarounds Because They Are “In The Other Person’s Business”?