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Do You Have to Hold the Specific Moment in Line 6?

Last updated on July 1, 2020

The desire to be precise is a good one. But are there times when less precision can be as valuable.

A Specific Situation Is Always Helpful

When I do The Work of Byron Katie, I usually look for a specific moment when I got triggered. This becomes the portal I use to dive into my self-exploration. The advantage of using a specific situation when doing The Work is that I know exactly what I’m talking about. 

When I write, “She doesn’t care about me,” I know what I mean in that particular situation. I’m not talking about “in general,” I’m talking about in the specific moment when she ignored my question. 

The specific moment becomes an anchor while I’m doing The Work. I can keep referring back to it as I go through the questions. That way I keep remembering what I am actually talking about when I’m doing my work.

This Experience Affects How I Write a Worksheet

When I write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, I’ve learned through experience the value of picking a very specific moment if I can. Then I write the whole worksheet out of that moment.

Referring to a specific moment when I write down my stressful thoughts to question holds me really tightly to what triggered me. This allows me to find many specific stressful thoughts that I can then question. 

But when I get to Line 6 of the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, holding the specific moment sometimes loosens.

Line 6

The prompt on Line 6 of the worksheet is, “What is it about this person and situation that you don’t ever want to experience again? I don’t ever want…” 

As you can see, the person and situation are still a reference point (so there is specificity), but the question moves into the future (which invites me to move beyond this situation to something more general).

This gives rise to several ways to answer this prompt. 

1. I can hold the situation tightly as I did in Lines 1-5. For example, I can write, “I don’t ever want her to ignore me again.” This is about her (the specific person) and it refers directly to what she did in the situation that I don’t want her to repeat.

2. I can hold the situation more lightly. For example, I can write, “I don’t ever want someone to ignore me again.” Or even, “I don’t ever want to be ignored again.” These more general statements accomplish the same thing, but they are more open-ended, not limiting it to just this person ignoring me again. Sometimes this more general statement better expresses my feeling. 

3. I can focus more on the emotion or internal experience. For example, I can write, “I don’t ever want to feel shut down again.” Or, “I don’t ever want to feel that angry again.” This still refers back to the situation, but the emphasis is on the feeling that I don’t want to experience, rather than on what she did. And it leads to a slightly different inquiry.

In The End, I Give Myself Full Permission to Go Anywhere

When I’m answering question 6, I allow myself to write whatever comes to mind. If it comes out with a strong reference to the person and specific moment, great. If it comes out as a more general reference to the future, great. If my focus goes to my emotion, great. 

There’s no restriction. I’m answering the question, “What is it that I don’t ever want to experience again?” My mind knows exactly how to answer this question. And it’s different in each situation. When I trust what my mind is wanting to say, then what I write stays connected to what is really going on inside of me. And when I then do The Work on it, I will be addressing what is really bothering me.

That’s why allowing myself to be uncensored and free when I write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is as important as following the prompts and using a specific situation. There is a dialogue between these two opposites. And between them flows the river of my emotions, raw and ready to be captured for inquiry. When I trust this, The Work becomes deeply personal and connected to myself.

Want to Get Some Practice Writing Worksheets?

If you would like some guided practice for writing Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets and doing The Work, I recommend my 9-week online course starting Sep 14 called The Work 101.

Have a great week

“When you realize that every stressful moment you experience is a gift that points you to your own freedom, life becomes very kind and abundant beyond all limits.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Further Reading: Have you Picked a Portal?

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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