Are You Focusing Too Much on Technique When Doing The Work?

Todd wins silver in pickleball
Last summer I won silver at our pickleball club tournament. The prize: a bottle of pickles, of course.

Are You Focusing Too Much on Technique?

When I play pickleball, I love to learn technique. It helps a lot. But I also find that it’s important to forget technique once I’ve learned it and play by feel. 

We were all trained in school to do what the teacher said to do, to follow the directions, and adjust our “wrong” ways of doing things to do it right. That training runs deep. And in many ways, it serves us well. We can learn from the experience of others to move more quickly at developing any skill.

And this is true when learning The Work of Byron Katie too. A lot of what I share in The Work 101 course is directions for how to go a little deeper in your work based on my own experience doing it for years. 

For example, I have some instructions in The Work 101 for getting closer to what is really bothering you when writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. Some of those instructions are a little technical. And while they’re good, it’s also good to remember what is most important.

Getting In Touch With Myself

What is the purpose of doing The Work? 

For me, The Work is a way to get more in touch with myself. I start by getting in touch with my stressful feelings, and I listen to my stressful thoughts. Then I ask myself if there could be other ways of seeing the same situation. 

This process is a very personal one. I can’t technique it. I have to actually listen to my feelings and let them be the most important thing. So when I’m writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, I may keep some guidelines in mind, but the main thing I’m doing is giving permission for my mind to rant and rave.

You don’t have to rant and rave properly. ANY way you rant and rave is great! Just get it out. Let it be seen. Explode, be petty, be cranky, ignore all the rules. I don’t care if every line on your worksheet is exactly the same. Just say what you need to say. Say the truth of how you feel.

The Alternative is Flat and Lifeless

If I try to write a “perfect” Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, I miss the whole point. The point of writing a worksheet is to give the microphone to the angry, crazy, stuck part of me and let it blurt everything out. This is not an essay contest. And you don’t get freer quicker by doing it perfectly. 

The number one technique is that there is no technique. Just be immature and let it fly. Those are great worksheets. Once you start to trust this, then there may be nuances worth exploring by following the more technical directions that I offer. But no matter what, you can always come back to the simple practice of writing your raw, uncensored thoughts on paper.

This May Be A Turnaround For You

If you like to do things well, you may think that mastering the techniques is the most important thing. But I’d say, getting the feel of it is more important. Feelings don’t lie. If you pay attention to them, they’ll tell you if you’re getting too intellectual or rule-based in doing your work. 

If this is the case, turn it around and hold more loosely the guidelines for filling in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, or for answering questions 1-4, or for finding turnarounds and examples.

The work is not 40 questions. It is four questions plus turnarounds and examples. The mind loves to make it more complicated. But don’t forget the simple basic structure. That is all you ever need to know. You can keep coming back to that again and again.

Join Us for a Virtual Retreat in June

If you want to do a lot of work in a short amount of time, a weekend virtual retreat is a great way to go. We offer sessions around the clock for 48 hours: a 2-hour session then 1-hour break, a 2-hour session then 1-hour break, all day and night. Come to the sessions that work in your time zone. 

The other advantage of working this way is that you can bring up questions and doubts about your work as they come up and get support right away. I hope to see you in June.

Have a great week,

“Self-realization is the sweetest thing. It shows us how we’re fully responsible for ourselves, and that is where we find our freedom. Rather than being other-realized, you can be self-realized. Instead of looking to us for your fulfillment, you can find it in yourself.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

Further reading: You Have to Do it Right, Is It True?

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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