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What If Your Stressful Thoughts Are Questions? Can You Still Question Them?

daffodils along the road
“Why is spring so slow this year?” It’s a question, but really it’s a stressful thought. How do you do The Work on this?

Can You Question a Question?

Sometimes stressful thoughts come as questions:

Why can’t I find a better-paying job?
Do I really need to stay in this relationship?
When will I ever get to bed on time?
Why do I bother reaching out to him?

If you want to do The Work of Byron Katie on these stressful questions, you may find that they don’t quite fit the process.

For example, it’s awkward to ask, “Why can’t I find a better-paying job? Is it true?” Or, “When will I ever get to bed on time? Is it true?” Questioning a question just doesn’t make sense.

But Stressful Questions Can Be Worked

Just because it’s a question, doesn’t mean you can’t do The Work on it. You just have to do some prep work first. You have to ask yourself, “What are the stressful thoughts or beliefs behind this question?” 

For example, “Why can’t I find a better-paying job?” What are the stressful thoughts behind this question? The stressful thoughts are:

I can’t find a better-paying job.
I need to find a better-paying job.
My job doesn’t pay enough.
It’s not fair that my job pays less than his job.
I don’t have enough money.

Another example is, “Why do I bother reaching out to him?” What are the stressful thoughts behind this question?

He doesn’t care about me. (This could be a full Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.)
I give more than he does. (This could be a full Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.)
I want him to care about what I care about.

Behind Every Stressful Question Is A Stressful Belief

The stress may come out as a question, but underneath that question is a belief that can easily be questioned. So don’t be fooled by the format your stress takes. If it is a question, simply look at what thoughts are also there which argue with reality. 

If you feel stress, you can be sure that you are arguing with reality somehow. Just look for it. You will soon find what the question is all about—a way of saying “This shouldn’t be happening.” When you find it, doing The Work on this underlying belief is no different than questioning any other stressful thought. 

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,

“There is no thought or situation that you can’t put up against inquiry. Every thought, every person, every apparent problem is here for the sake of your freedom. When you experience anything as separate or unacceptable, inquiry can bring you back to the peace you felt before you believed that thought.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Further reading: Finding The Hidden Want

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.