I’m A Guy Who Really Wants To Know The Truth
I want to catch the ways that I make myself suffer. I don’t want to turn a blind eye, even to the little ways that I drag my own life down.
That’s why I have been doing The Work of Byron Katie as a regular practice since January 2007.
Here Are Some Areas Where The Work Has Helped Me Personally
As a client of The Work, I have healed a very broken relationship with my partner over the course of six years. I have come to peace with my mother’s unexpected death in a plane crash. I have come out of the closet as a gay man. I have been slowly gaining perspective on my desire to flirt with women. I have come to see sex as not dirty. I have overcome impatience in my spiritual development. I have become more comfortable than ever with slow progress in business. I have become less fanatic about my eating habits. I have become comfortable with criticism. I have become become comfortable with people arguing. I have become much more comfortable asking for what I want, and reporting without explanation and justification.
A Video Of Me Doing The Work With Katie
Take a look at the video below (parts 1 and 2). In this video I’m doing The Work with Byron Katie on the stressful thought, “I’m not living up to my full potential.” After this session, I discontinued my stubborn attachment to being a nature photographer not making any money, I took a job working for someone else, and stopped taking my job so seriously.
Three years later, I’m again working for myself, this time as a facilitator of The Work. But this time I’m not so caught up in the idea that “I am what I do.” This is a much more peaceful, balanced way to live for me, and it all started with this short session shown below.
I’m Not Living Up To My Full Potential
Here is a video of me with Byron Katie in December 2009. The main stressful thought was “I’m not living up to my full potential.”
Here’s A Self-Evaluation Of My Facilitation Skills
Byron Katie has a list of seven “Principles for Facilitators.” I like to use these as a benchmark for how I am doing as a facilitator. Here’s my most recent self-evaluation on each of the seven principles for facilitators.
Principle 1: I agree to hold the space with the four questions and turnarounds, and use the questions effectively and appropriately.
I trust the four questions. I usually feel they are enough. For me, subquestions are purely optional as a support for question 3. The only aim I have in asking the four questions is to give the client an opportunity to experience the same situation with the thought, and then without the thought. I listen closely to what the client is reporting, and don’t ask sub-questions that the client has already answered.
I hold clients tightly in the specific situation when looking for turnarounds. When appropriate, I share my own examples, or ask the client to look for an example in a specific place. Sometimes, my suggestions spark the client’s own ideas, and sometimes they are too much of a stretch.
I notice a stubborn desire to keep looking for examples even when the client is not really open to keep looking.
Principle 2: I agree to listen authentically to the thoughts, vulnerability, and self-awareness of my client and of myself.
I join my clients as they do their work. Many times, their work is my work. I follow what they are saying closely, and measure it against my own heart as they work. If it doesn’t make sense to me, I ask.
I have listened while clients went deep into traumatic situations, I have witnessed clients stop and cry for five minutes, I have listened while they questioned their sex stories in graphic detail. There is no place I’m afraid to go with The Work. I’ve even had clients get mad at me for asking the questions.
Over time, I have found a balance between listening with compassion and staying in my own business, knowing that my only job is to lovingly support them in inquiry. I love seeing that they don’t even need to do The Work, ever!
I am aware of my own moments of inspiration during a session, my judgments about the client, and the areas that I have not yet worked that come up for me in a session. I make note of these for my own future work.
Sometimes I do not understand a client. Then the questions still hold us in inquiry, as a 4 Questions Card would do if I didn’t even speak English. I am also willing to stop a session if it doesn’t work for me, though I don’t recall having done so.
My only negative feedback is that I sometimes assume that the client thinks just like me, which is not always true. I am willing to back-up and apologize if I step into the client’s business.
Principle 3: I agree to know that each person who comes to me is wise, and will find their own answers, the ones that are true for them.
I have come a long way with this one. Two years ago, I did a lot of interrupting and suggesting, and it still happens from time to time, but I notice myself getting quieter and quieter. I notice how many times a client comes up with examples that blow me away. Things I never would have thought of. It can give me chills to experience that wisdom.
There is still room for improvement here but, in general, I feel that I follow this principle. I am finding that my examples are for me, and very often are not that valuable to the client. I notice that what gets me excited is not necessarily what gets the client excited. It is the process of self-discovery that seems to make The Work powerful.
Principle 4: I agree to bring my client and myself back to the one-liner any time they (or I) wander away from the questions, and to remind us that The Work stops working any time they or I move into “because,” “but,” justification, or defense.
I have had to overcome a lot of resistance to this principle, with the underlying belief that “I want my client to like me,” and “They won’t like me if I bring them back,” and “Interrupting is rude.”
I discovered through inquiry that friends interrupt each other all the time, and it’s not rude. Rudeness comes from judging the other person as inferior. I have come to love pointing out, “Did you notice the “because”?” It feels like service now.
And I watch the fine line between the client’s justification and her answering the question. Sometimes it’s not clear which is happening. I wait until I’m clear that the client is no longer answering the question until I bring him or her back.
I also recognize how I also am sometimes unable to hold the questions myself when I’m doing my work. This gives me compassion for my clients. When I bring them back, it is gently and with understanding. Sometimes I do get swept up in a client’s story. In that case, I consider that it’s never too late to go back and start again.
Principle 5: I agree to refrain from interfering with my client’s work by teaching, pushing, or moving away from the four questions and turnarounds through advice or therapy.
I do have a history of wanting to teach, but in facilitation I find that I get so engrossed with wanting to learn, that the tendency does not surface very often. When it does, I usually recognize it right away and back off, either exposing my motives to the client directly, or noting them down for future work.
I remember working a related thought, “I want the client to get it,” once. It was relieving to discover that I would be just as happy if the client decided never to do The Work again, that it didn’t work for them. It leaves them free to find a way the works for them.
I remember thinking, maybe chess would be a more enjoyable experience for them! I often remember this discovery when I’m working with a client, and it is delightful not to have to accomplish anything in a session. It leaves me free to witness The Work having a life of its own, and my client giving me an education.
Principle 6: I agree to work my own thoughts whenever I possibly can, by myself and/or with a facilitator.
After six years of doing The Work pretty much consistently, five days a week, I am amazed that I still love this simple process. I have watched my relationship go from hate to love. I must have written 1000 worksheets on my partner along the way (yes that’s an exaggeration). And to think, when I first started, I thought The Work would help me get out of the relationship. Go figure!
I keep an eye out for stress reactions in my heart, or body, or emotions throughout the day. I find myself looking forward to those stress reactions, because I know I’m going to learn something.
Recently, I did a bunch of work on The Institute For The Work (ITW) and found that I was projecting a big story on it. I was seeing it as the enemy, the big controlling corporation, and I wanted to be the wild, free cowboy. It turns out that I’ve made this same projection throughout my whole life with various organizations.
When I got down to reality, I found that ITW is one of the most fair organizations I’ve encountered, and very open to feedback. I started seeing at a co-op, not a corporation! And I started noticing that I am willing to follow some rules in ITW, just as I am willing to follow some traffic rules in order to have the freedom of driving a car.
I do The Work five days a week in my Slow-Cook Inquiry group online. That’s my baseline for doing The Work. In addition, currently, I’m writing out The Work for about an hour a day. The specifics of how I do The Work change, and I’m not fanatic about it (sometimes I go a while without doing The Work), but overall doing The Work is a daily practice for me.
Principle 7: I agree to serve myself by sharing The Work with others.
I notice many insights come from facilitating others. It is quite self-serving. In fact, I’m just getting ready to question this thought this week, “It’s not fair to the client (that I get a benefit from facilitating, and get paid too).” Doing The Work on the Helpline and facilitating at Turnaround House has exposed me to many varieties of mind. And most of the time, I find myself standing squarely in these clients’ shoes. Their issues are my issues too.
Also, I love seeing the subtle ways that my own issues play out when I’m facilitating someone, a desire to be liked, a desire to control, a tendency to interrupt. They all come out from time to time. Because the relationship with the client is a real relationship, as real as any other. My stressful thoughts and reactions when I’m facilitating show me what to work on next.
Likewise, being in business as a facilitator has brought up all kinds of stressful thoughts, around money, and perfectionism, and, of course, “living up to my full potential.” I have enjoyed using my business as a testing ground for my own process of self-inquiry. Once, I exposed to my whole email list my motives that they spend money with me. It was so freeing to make that amends.
As I continue to work my own stressful thoughts, I love to be of service as a facilitator to anyone who wants to do The Work.
You might also enjoy watching this interview of me with Grace Bell.