Identifying Stressful Thoughts to Question Is Not as Hard as you Think

crop dusting

The idea of dominating nature is so last century!

Stressful Thoughts Are Hard to Identify, Is That True?

Many people find that identifying stressful thoughts to question is challenging for them. When I hear this, I immediately check to see if they are holding a motive in doing The Work.

Identifying stressful thoughts is not complicated—if it’s stressful and it’s a thought that’s all I need to know.

But when there’s a motive running, the mind makes it complicated: “Is this the right thought for me to question? This is a silly thought. I don’t believe it anyway. I need to find the core thought and question that.” With complicated thinking, I miss the opportunity to question the simple stressful thought that arose on its own.

This Is Why Questioning Motives Is Valuable

Motives when doing The Work interfere with the innocence of inquiry. When I’m innocent, I’m questioning whatever stressful thought comes up. I’m not trying to control the process. I’m letting my experience of stress show me the thoughts I need to work. It’s just a matter of listening.

If I feel stress, I look for the thought, and write it down. It’s really that simple.

If it’s not simple for me, I need to do The Work on my motives before I continue doing The Work. Motives can be questioned just like any thought. For example:

I want to get rid of this thought.
I want to feel better.
I want to solve this problem.
I don’t want to write a worksheet on someone else.
I need to get back on my feet.
I need to have a breakthrough.
I want to find an insight.
I need it to work quickly.
I want The Work to help me.
I need to shift my perspective.
I need to change my behavior.
I need to get enlightened.

These kind of motives interfere with the innocent practice of The Work. By questioning them, I become more unbiased in my inquiry, and I stop putting so much pressure on myself to break through. The exploring mind works so much better when it’s not working under pressure.

Domination Over Nature Is Old Fashioned

In the old days, humans thought that mastering nature was the way to power. Knowledge of the laws of nature was used to gain control of nature and to manipulate it to do our bidding.

But the problem was that the limited mind of humans couldn’t think of all the repercussions, and there were always side effects. Now we take drugs to treat the side effects of other drugs. It’s a downward spiral.

This is the problem with manipulation. It is very short sighted. And that’s why the trend today is back towards allowing nature to create balance: joining nature, or stepping out of the way of nature, instead of trying to control it.

The Mind Is Nature

Just like any other part of nature, the mind can’t be controlled or manipulated very well. And when you’re doing The Work—inquiring into the truth—any motive to manipulate or control the outcome will stop the process cold.

You can’t look for the truth and try to control the outcome at the same time. It’s a conflict of interest. So I invite you to question your need to control the outcome, and come to The Work with the idea that truth itself is worth pursuing.

No matter how inconvenient the truth may be, no matter how scary, it always leads to the same place: freedom. That’s why I trust The Work as my way of getting at my truth. And I wait for the next stressful thought to find me, instead of trying to control which thought I question.

Have a great week,
Todd

“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, Ch. 13.

If you like this article, feel free to forward the link to friends, family or colleagues. Or share the link on Facebook or other social media. If you have thoughts you’d like to share about it, please leave your comments below.

Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

Get Articles like this in your Inbox every week


  • Get weekly tips on how to do The Work of Byron Katie.

  • Read my insights as I do The Work.

  • Be the first to know about new courses and other (cool) stuff.

  • Get my free checklist for filling in the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.

I will not send spam, and I will not sell or give away your e-mail address to anyone.

>