Does your Mind Trick you into Thinking, “I’ve Seen this Before”?

Japanese maple

As a photographer, if I thought, “Yeah, yeah, red leaves. I’ve seen this before,” I’d never experience the beauty nor take the photograph.

The Mind Is Expert at Getting Out of Work

And one of its favorite excuses is “I’ve seen this before.”

This is a clever way of discrediting any insights that may be coming up when doing The Work. Another phrase for the same excuse is, “Boring!” or “This is repetitive.”

But these are nothing but lame excuses.

The Work Is Not About Being Ingeniously Creative

When doing The Work, you don’t have to come up with clever new ways of spinning things. You don’t have to come up with examples that are brand new—never been seen before—to do powerful work.

Just like you don’t have to come up with brand new rattlesnake antivenom every time you get bitten by a rattlesnake. You just use the same boring old rattlesnake antivenom and it does its job.

Turnarounds Are like Antivenom

It’s not my creative prowess that makes them work. Its the simple fact that they are the precise medicine needed to balance my original statement. All I need to do to make it work is let the antivenom come in contact with the venom.

As the original stressful thought and the turnaround soak into each other they cancel each other out, just like venom and antivenom.

Good Things Happen When You Let Things Soak In

When you give a turnaround time, you may find old examples for the turnaround coming up. Stuff you’ve seen before. You may find new examples too. But before you discredit the old ones, let them soak in.

Just because you’ve seen a turnaround example before, doesn’t mean that the stuck part inside of you has seen it—especially in this new situation. In fact, that stuck part must not have seen it yet, otherwise it wouldn’t be so stuck.

And my having seen it before in other situations is totally irrelevant. It’s like saying to a dying snake bite victim, “Antivenom you say? Oh yeah, good idea, but I’ve used that before. I guess there’s not much we’re going to be able to do for you.”

I Invite You to Be a Boring Doctor

Willing to use the same medicine again and again for as long as it is needed.

Or if you want to be more romantic, be an artist or a poet when you do your work. Keep painting the same old flowers but find new beauty in them each time you paint them.

Didn’t Monet paint the same old haystacks hundreds of times? I wouldn’t call any of his works boring. In fact, what makes them amazing is the depth that he was able to access by doing the same thing over and over again.

I’ve been doing The Work work over 10 years, and there still are surprises, but there are also lots of things I’ve seen before. Only now I see them even more clearly and more deeply, and they are becoming second nature to me.

But I still let them soak in when my turnarounds call for them. That’s how I keep deepening the balance that is growing in me.

To me, that is exciting. Not boring.

Have a great weekend,

“The four questions and turnaround of The Work will take you as deep as you want to go.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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  • Lorna says:

    Hi Todd,
    I appreciate your emailed blogs so very much. Thank you for admitting your frailties and foibles to the world,… it helps those of us who have them also, but who are struggling to identify and deal with them.
    I have weekly meetings by phone with another student of the work here on the North Island of New Zealand. We are working.
    with care,

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