Fixing Myself vs. Self-Inquiry

light on ripples

My inner world is a mix of light and dark, clarity and confusion.

The Part of Me That Is Clear Wants to Fix the Part of Me That Is Confused

In this paradigm, things are broken or fixed, black or white, capable or not. This is the world of the strong helping the weak, and the weak depending on the strong. It is the paradigm of codependence.

And I’m not talking about external codependence. I’m talking about the strong, clear parts of me trying to fix the weak, confused parts of me. It’s total codependence on the inside. And of course, this carries over onto codependence on external teachers, friends, and professionals as well.

But That Is Not the Paradigm of Self-Inquiry

Self-inquiry does not care about fixing. “Fixing” assumes that the parts that need fixing are not strong enough to take care of themselves. Fixing assumes that some kind of intervention is needed because the weak parts need help—they can’t do it on their own.

Self-inquiry is just the opposite.

Self-inquiry assumes that each part of me is wise, even the stuck parts, even the confused parts. Self-inquiry does not impose any kind of intervention on the weak parts of me; it invites the confused parts to speak, with no motive to change them.

Self-inquiry assumes that there is some intelligence behind the stuckness. And it wants to hear it. And it also assumes that the solution to any problem lies within the problem itself. So it invites the stuck part to first of all be heard, and secondly to unravel the problem itself.

This Is the End of Codependence

Through The Work of Byron Katie, which is a form of self-inquiry, my weak parts are literally being given the space and the tools to become strong. That’s why it feels so empowering.

It is not fixing, or snipping, or deleting, or suppressing. The Work says, “Hey, I hear you shouting down there. Sounds like you’re in pain. What’s going on?”

It is listening. That is a huge part of it right there. But it’s more than listening, it is handing down the tools to the stuck part so that it can unstick itself, and allowing as much time as it needs in order to do so, even if it never gets there.

But if You’re a Fixer, You Can Miss Self-Inquiry

Being a fixer means trying to be in control, trying to dominate, or use some kind of force to override the problem. This gives a superficial solution at best. And results are temporary. It also leads to self-attack when the stuck parts don’t cooperate.

It’s easy to end up “trying to fix” just out of sheer force of habit—even when doing The Work. But it’s easy to spot. First, you’ll notice a resistance. Then a resentment if you are trying to force wisdom on yourself. This is not self-inquiry. This is pure “fixing” in the guise of doing The Work. If there’s even the slightest desire to fix myself while doing The Work, it hampers the process.

The reason for this is that the stuck part that is crying inside senses the bully “wise” part that wants to fix it. And it closes down even further. Whereas, if there is no desire to fix the stuck part when doing The Work, the stuck part feels safe to stand up and tell it’s story, and even to explore how the very opposite of what it thinks could be as true.

So Treat Your Stuck Parts Like Grownups

Stuck parts have feelings. Stuck parts have wisdom. If you’re really open to self-inquiry, with no motive to fix or delete, and no sense of superiority looking down on those stuck parts, those confused parts could become your greatest teachers. And they can literally blossom in the light of self-inquiry.

That is what The Work is all about: giving the stuck parts their day. The weak become strong. And as they say, the stone that was discarded could become the cornerstone.

To me, this is what self-respect looks like. That’s why I love self-inquiry.

Have a great weekend,

“Are you inquiring with a motive? Are you asking the questions to assure yourself that the answer you already have is valid, even though it’s painful? Do you want to be right, or to prove something, more than you want the truth? It’s the truth that set me free—for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. Acceptance, peace, letting go, and less attachment to a world of suffering are all effects of doing The Work. They’re not goals. Do The Work for the love of freedom, for the love of truth. If you’re inquiring with other motives, such as healing the body or solving a problem, your answers may be arising from old motives that never worked, and you’ll miss the wonder and grace of inquiry.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

  • Laurie says:

    This was brilliant…thank you!

  • Jared says:

    Thank you Todd. Always so relevant.

  • Greg says:

    This is great Todd – such an important piece of the puzzle. Thanks for sharing!

  • Zoe says:

    This is breathtaking Todd – Love it – (It seems so fresh and new – I don’t even remember if we read it in the last Work 101?) Anyway – a breath of fresh air and glad I got to read it again (if I did) – a perfect re – mind – er 🙂
    Thank you!

  • Jyoti says:

    “If you’re inquiring with other motives, such as healing the body”

    Yeah, I guess this was one of my motives too. It seems to be fading as I do The Work.

  • Jyoti says:

    Thank you, Todd. A perfect re-minder, as Zoe said.

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