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Obliged to Rekindle a Friendship after Doing The Work?

Last updated on June 3, 2020

Two sailboats may simply pass each other in peace. It is not required that they sail side-by-side.

Why Do We Do The Work?

The Work is a way to find peace again. And as such, it is concerned with one thing, and one thing only: my internal experience. It does not require any change on the outside (though changes may sometimes naturally happen). 

The Work is simply a way to find myself again, and finding myself often softens or opens my heart.

But many of us get confused by this. We equate opening our hearts to being friends again. The belief is that if I do The Work and open my heart to someone that I was not getting along with, it means that I must now “live” that turnaround and go be friends with them.

This Is Not True

The Work is about finding my truth, not about forcing myself to enter into, or stay in, any relationship. For example, one client recently did The Work on a friend whom she felt obliged to be friends with. It was a friendship only because she could not say no to it.

When her friend crossed a boundary, it angered her, and she did The Work on it. And in the process of doing The Work, she watched her anger fall away. The charge went down as she found her part, and as she found understanding for her friend.

But she also found that she was still unwilling to rekindle the friendship even though there was no charge around it. And it confused her for a moment, “Aren’t I supposed to get along with her now?”

But The Work Is Not About External Things

The Work is not about getting along with someone. It is only about getting along with myself internally. If external friendship comes back, that’s great. And if external friendship does not come back, that’s just as great.

It is a misuse of The Work to force myself to become friends with someone that I don’t really want to be friends with. Why? Because The Work’s only concern is to point me back to myself, to my integrity. If I don’t want to be friends, that is also a truth that I can listen to.

The Distinction Is This

The Work helps me accept the person as they are, to love them even. But it also helps me to accept who I am (and I may not want a friendship with them). Part of “what is” that I come to accept through The Work may also be the realization that a certain friendship simply isn’t my preference.

The result may be a choice not to rekindle the relationship, but to let it be. Sometimes it is wiser to accept what doesn’t work, than to try to make it work. Sometimes, it is simply better to sail on in different directions.

When I am Clear, I am Free

When I am aware that part of the problem in a relationship comes from the other person, I don’t take it all on myself. I own my part, but I don’t believe that I must change myself at all costs. I don’t believe that it’s all my fault.

Then I can observe the other person more objectively. And sometimes that results in a no. But the difference is that it’s a no without anger, or hatred, or fear.

That’s the value of The Work. It helps me deal with my thinking and my emotions, so that I can say yes or no without a charge. Then it’s possible to say no without actually rejecting the other person, and without closing my heart. It becomes just a firm, simple no. And there’s always an openness to reevaluate if things change.

Do The Work Privately with me

Join me anytime one-on-one to do The Work. If you want any extra support in doing The Work, a facilitator can help. Book a session with me here.

Have a great week

“That’s choosing him as your one and only, the one you love, unchanged; it’s just that you don’t live with him now. But whether you stay with him or leave him, you never have to close your heart. And then you may notice that the next person in front of you is your one and only, in the moment when he’s with you, and that you don’t require him to be anything but what he is. Unconditional love doesn’t need to dictate the form.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is It True?

Further Reading: The Work is Nothing but a Game of “Warmer/Colder”

About the author

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.

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