The World of One-Liners


Stressful thoughts come in bunches, just like grapes.

One Thought Is Enough to Get Started

When I first started doing The Work in 2007, I didn’t use the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. For three years, all I did was pick one thought to work each time I sat to do The Work. I simply scanned my experience and identified a thought that was bothering me.

This is called working a “one-liner”—a single thought to question.

In 2010, when I was at Turnaround House, I discovered the power of the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. Instead of identifying one thought to question, I could identify many related thoughts on one worksheet.

I learned how to go deeply into one stressful moment and identify each part of my stressful story to write on each line of the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. This really deepened my work.

Today I mainly use the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. I find it to be a very powerful way of identifying my stressful thoughts to work.

But I Do Not Exclusively Use the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet

I find that some thoughts do not fit into a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. And for those, I still use the one-liner approach.

For example, sometimes I simply need to question a motive that is causing me stress. I used this a couple of years ago when I questioned the thought, “I want to make a living as a facilitator.” This thought was not about a neighbor, so the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet wasn’t appropriate. So I questioned it as a simple one-liner.

However, there were related worksheets that I wrote. For example, I wrote a worksheet on Katie in a specific situation when she invited me to “not make a living as a facilitator.” My worksheet on her covered things that my one-liner did not. Also, I wrote a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on my mom who wanted me to be “successful.”

So I Find That’s It’s a Little of Both

Sometimes I write Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets and find additional one-liners to question. Other times I start by questioning one-liners and find Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets that I can write.

With both approaches, I can cover any topic.

And I Also Write Clusters of One-Liners

Most commonly, these come out as lists of one-liners. I might write a list of my fears for doing something. Or a list of reasons why I can’t do something. Or a list of complaints about a situation that I’m in.

And when I want to go even deeper, I use the following prompts to find even more one-liners to add to my list.

1. And it means that…
2. What are all the reasons why I think it’s true? (list of proof)
3. What am I wanting here?

For example, if I wrote a one-liner, “I’m not a good facilitator,” I can question this one-liner directly. But I can also use the prompts above to come up with additional stressful thoughts to question.

I can use the prompt, “And it means that…”

I’m not a good facilitator and it means that:

I won’t have many clients.
People will talk about me.
I have to hide my head in shame.

Or I can use the prompt, “What are all the reasons why I think it’s true? (list of proof):

I’m not a good facilitator because:

I don’t interrupt people quickly enough when they step out of The Work.
Not everyone I work with is satisfied.
I don’t always follow the script.

Or I can use the prompt, “What am I wanting here?”

I want to be a good facilitator.
I want others to praise me.
I want Katie to approve of me.
I want to help people.

As You Can See, I’ve Gathered a Cluster of One-Liners

So even when I’m not using the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, I can find a group of related stressful thoughts to question. When I question all of them, I am giving thorough treatment to all of the different facets of my story.

You can find more prompts and ways of finding additional related one-liners in chapter 5 of Loving What Is.

Have a great week,

“A powerful way of prompting yourself is to add “and it means that _____” to your original statement. Your suffering may be caused by a thought that interprets what happened, rather than the thought you wrote down. This additional phrase prompts you to reveal your interpretation of the fact.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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