I Can Connect with Myself When I’m Alone
I’m actually quite good at listening to myself when I’m all alone. That’s why I seek out alone time. Writing this article for example is meditation for me. I do it alone and in doing so, I naturally check in with myself.
I listen to the idea trying to express itself and I check to see if what I’m writing matches what I’m feeling. I love that kind of process.
The problem is when I’m with other people, I tend to put them above me and it becomes almost impossible to listen to myself. It’s a lifelong habit of valuing what others say and want more than valuing what I think and want. I literally put myself on the back burner when I’m with others.
This Gets Me into All Kinds of Trouble
For example, I’ve recently been doing a worksheet on my first girlfriend in 8th grade. She was two years older (a huge difference at that age), and she liked me but I had no clue who she was.
When she asked me out, I literally believed I had no choice but to say yes. My whole focus was on her and not wanting to hurt her (reject her). I put her needs and wants above my own. I had no way of getting through to myself to see what I was actually feeling.
So of course, I went out with her for a couple of months even though I felt disconnected inside about it.
It’s Never too Late to Do The Work
What I love about The Work of Byron Katie is that is asks me what I think and feel, and shows me how to ask myself what I feel. This transcends my constant focus on what other people want and allows me to break through the crap and start acting with integrity.
I don’t know how to explain how it does this for me, but it just does. I felt it the first moment I did The Work. The 4 questions were pointing me back to myself. There was no one pushing me to find the right answer. I was left to find my own answers. And that felt like coming home.
I still feel it every time I do The Work. And doing The Work on this first girlfriend situation has been very freeing. I found that I could literally close my eyes and ask myself now (after so many years) what do I want.
In my mind, I went back and stood in the hallway where she asked me out and I asked myself if I want to go out with her. When I did, it was so clear that my answer was no.
The Work Helps me Integrate Inner and Outer
Not only does The Work help me find my own truth in any situation, but it also helps me to allow that truth in me to come out and be seen regardless of how it is received. This is the part I’ve always had difficulty with.
When I do The Work on statements like, “She will be hurt if I say no,” I find that it’s possibly not true at all. She, after all, was bold enough to ask me. If she couldn’t handle my no, she would have probably never found the courage to ask.
And even if she does get hurt, that is her business—her inner work not mine. My job is to be honest with her and to trust she can work it out when I say no. I can’t tell you the freedom that comes for me with that kind of awareness.
Some People Already Have This Kind of Awareness
I have this kind of awareness in some areas of my life but not in others. The Work allows me first of all to realign with myself, and then to find understanding that other people’s reactions are not my fault.
When I see this, suddenly being with other people is exactly like being with myself. I have the same freedom to move, to listen to myself, and to check to see if what I’m saying and doing matches what I’m feeling.
Not everyone needs The Work, but for those who do, it can be such an amazing gift. Join me for nine weeks this January as we go deeply into this process in The Work 101 online course.
Have a great week,
“When a child gets lost, he may feel sheer terror. It can be just as frightening when you’re lost inside the mind’s chaos. But when you enter The Work, it is possible to find order and to learn the way back home. It doesn’t matter what street you walk down, there’s something familiar; you know where you are. You could be kidnapped and someone hides you away for a month and then throws you blindfolded out of a car, but when you take off the blindfold and look at the buildings and streets, you begin to recognize a phone booth or a grocery store, and everything becomes familiar. You know what to do to find your way home. That is how The Work functions. Once the mind is met with understanding, it can always find its way back home. There is no place where you can remain lost or confused.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is
Further reading: Have You Asked Yourself?