The Tenth Annual Address Book Challenge

cabin in the snow
Somewhere in the woods, you’ll find an old forgotten address with secrets to tell.

The Tenth Annual Address Book Challenge

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since we’ve been doing the Address Book Challenge. If you’re new to it, grab your address book and let’s get started. 

I like to begin each year by going through my address book to find old names with a little unquestioned history to work.

Here’s How It Works

Find wherever it is that you keep your contacts. When we started ten years ago, I still had a paper address book, now I have everything on my phone or computer. Wherever your list is, open it up and start scanning. I suggest opening it to a random spot.

The idea is to scan through the names that you see there. Some will be major names for you, others will be almost forgotten names. Some will be people, others may be businesses. It doesn’t matter what you find. Consider them all.

Listen To Your Fine Feelings As You Scan

As you look through the names you find on your list, notice what your emotions are doing as you see each one. Some names may give you a completely neutral reading. It’s just a matter of fact: “Oh, that’s so-and-so.” Not much reaction inside.

Seeing other names may produce a feeling of fear, anger, frustration, love, sadness, or any other emotion under the sun. Just notice it. This is your emotional system giving you feedback, and there is a lot of information in that feedback.

Emotions are like a finely calibrated sensor, letting you know there is something going on inside of you with relationship to this person. If you notice stress of any kind: yearning, disgust, nervousness, heaviness, etc., then slow it down and take a closer look.

The Point Is Not To Find Everyone, But To Find Just One

There is no need to scan the whole address book. You’re not taking an inventory, you’re just looking for one name that you can use to do The Work of Byron Katie. Each name is a portal you can use to come back to yourself. Any one will do, as long as there is some emotional charge, even faint.

When you find someone (maybe it’s someone you’d rather not do this exercise on—that’s always a good one), then it’s time to do The Work. First, scan the images that the name brings up for you. You’ll find past situations and memories there. 

Use your emotional radar to hone in on a specific situation related to that person. Maybe it was the last time you spoke. Maybe it was something that started a separation between you, even just a small, emotional separation. Keep scanning your memories of this person until you find a specific situation with emotion.

Then Write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet

If you’re not familiar with the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, it’s a way to identify stressful thoughts in any situation with another person. Fill out the form with your honest, stressful thoughts. These will be each be questioned later.

It can be cathartic to write about someone who was buried in your address book. Just let your emotions direct what you write. Don’t be careful, kind, or spiritual. Write in an uncensored way, like a child. This is the part inside of you that holds the emotion. Let that emotion do the writing.

Once you have filled out the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, take your time to question each statement you wrote. I like to question one statement per day (if I wrote 15 statements on the worksheet, I’ll often take 15 days to work through them all). I often find it very healing to do this kind of work, as my perspective changes over the days as I question what I wrote.

Want Extra Support Doing This?

We have three courses starting at the beginning of the year. Join us, and bring your address book. You can experiment with this exercise in any of the following courses.

Virtual Retreat: Jan 8-9 – Two days of The Work on Zoom (available 16 hours each day)
The Work 101: Jan 17 – Mar 20 – 9 weeks of The Work in-depth training
The Work 101 for Busy People: Feb 7 – Oct 16 – 9 months of in-depth training

I hope to see you soon.

Have a great week,

“I encourage you to write about someone—parent, lover, enemy—whom you haven’t yet totally forgiven. This is the most powerful place to begin. Even if you’ve forgiven that person 99 percent, you aren’t free until your forgiveness is complete. The 1 percent you haven’t forgiven them is the very place where you’re stuck in all your other relationships (including the relationship with yourself).” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy.

Further reading: Diving Deeper Through a Portal

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.