Where Is Your Ego Hiding? Here’s Where Mine’s Been Hanging Out

I love tinkering with my website. It’s kind of like the way some men tinker with automobiles. It brings a satisfaction to me.

But recently, I’ve been thinking a bit more about my overall strategy for my website on The Work. And I’ve been wrestling with how generous to be in sharing links to other sites about The Work.

My understanding in building websites has always been to keep visitors on a site once they get there. And to direct them to the things you offer, not to the competition.

But Something About This Doesn’t Feel Quite Right In This Case

Why have I been feeling uncomfortable rubbing shoulders with other facilitators? Or sharing my website with people who are familiar with The Work? Why have I felt more distant from Byron Katie in my mind?

When I thought about it, I realized that I had been viewing Katie as an obstacle to my own business. She has always encouraged non-competition among facilitators of The Work.  And she has always invited us to recognize thework.com as the official website of The Work.

So I Wrote A Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet On Her

I was appalled to see the thoughts I put on paper. "What an ego," I thought. But I wrote them anyway. This is the raw mind on paper. Until I put those thoughts on paper and question them, knew I would continue to feel uncomfortable.

Here’s What I Wrote

I’m angry at Katie because she wants to retain strict control of The Work.

I want her to let me have my own website without reference to thework.com. I want her to stop hindering my progress. I want to be king of my own business.

She should trust me to present The Work in any way I feel is appropriate.

I need to be different. I need to prove that I am somebody.

She is controlling, hindering, greedy.

I don’t ever want to be told how to run my business again.

Just For The Record, Katie Never Told Me How To Run My Business

Never once. But those were my irrational thoughts.

I soon discovered that I was the greedy one. As I went through each concept I wrote down one-by-one, and did The Work on them, I uncovered a part of me that I had tried to keep hidden from myself. I discovered my ego.

I have been secretly wanting to be the one and only authority on The Work–at least in the world of my website. I have wanted strict control when people come to my website. And I have been trying to pretend that my website is an island by itself. So that I could be the "pretend" king of that "pretend" land.

No Wonder I Was Feeling Uncomfortable

This kind of thinking goes against my heart. My heart wants to include everyone. My heart wants to present a smorgasbord of everything that could be of value for people interested in The Work.  My heart just wants to share its enthusiasm for The Work.

The Lengths That I Would Go To Be Somebody Are Amazing

I found myself working hard to reduplicate things that Katie has already done on her website. Just so they could be mine when they were on my site. What silliness! And I have limited my website to the things that I have created.
 
I didn’t invent The Work. And yet a part of me wanted to pretend I had. Because I wanted to be the one.
 
I wanted credit for everything.

I See A Living Turnaround In All This

Seeing my ego is just half the game. I see now that I’ve been giving myself more work, more stress, and limiting the experience of the visitors on my website because of my ego.

It’s time to turn that around. The next version of my website may not play by the typical business world’s rules for websites, but I’m about to make it a place where you can find all kinds of resources for The Work. I’m going to put links to Katie’s books on there. I’m going to put links to her YouTube videos. These are amazing resources.

And I’m going to encourage people to attend her workshops and teleconferences. And the workshops of other facilitators that I respect as well. In other words, I’m opening up my website to the world of The Work.

And It Doesn’t Mean That I Won’t Have My Own Things To Offer

I’m still writing my book, "Written Meditation: How To Do The Work On Your Own." It is taking longer than I anticipated, and will probably be ready in late spring or early summer next year.

I love offering facilitation service, and will continue to do so on my website. And I love to write this newsletter.

It is interesting how much nicer it feels to operate on the principle of inclusion, instead of exclusion. It resonates with the deeper part of me. And it makes me feel much freer to consider sharing my website with everyone.

Ironically, it could even be good for business too.

So I’ve Got Some Tinkering To Do

And I can’t wait to get started with it. I look forward to sharing with you to all the resources that I know about The Work on the next version of my website.

_____________________

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. He loves to uncover new ways that his ego holds him back. And he enjoys supporting you to do the same. Are you willing to uncover what’s making you uncomfortable inside? It could be the very place your ego’s hanging out.

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Do You Ever Get Hung Up On Question Four?

I can’t drop the thought.
I would be lying to myself.
It’s too hard.
I’m scared to let go of it.
It would be irresponsible.

These are a few of the responses I hear when I ask the fourth question, “Who would you be without that thought?” in The Work of Byron Katie.

Question four is a very powerful question, but it sometimes stops people in their tracks. You can almost see their white knuckles as they sit there thinking, “Oh my God, I can’t do this!”

Let’s Say You’re Working The Concept, “Joey Shouldn’t Talk Back”

You run through questions one, two and three…

1. Is it true? Yes.
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true that Joey shouldn’t talk back? Yes.
3. How do you react when you believe this thought? I get frustrated, angry, I feel powerless, etc.

And you come to question four:

4. Who would you be without the thought that Joey shouldn’t talk back?

You might start to answer like this: “I would be a bad parent if I didn’t think that thought. It’s my responsibility to discipline him. I would be culturing him to be disrespectful if I didn’t.”

But If You Answer In This Way You Miss The Point Of Question Four

Question four does not ask you to drop the thought. It does not say you have to stop disciplining your child. It does not say you have to change your behavior at all.

Question four is an experiment.

It’s a hypothetical question. Who would you be without that thought? If you could replay the same situation all over again but without the thought, “Joey shouldn’t talk back,” what would your experience look like? Would there be any difference?

This Is How Science Is Done

You compare two versions of the same setup, but in one of them you change just one thing. And you look to see if there is any difference. That way you can find out if the one thing you changed has any effect.

So Who Would We Be Without The Thought?

Does the thought, “Joey shouldn’t talk back,” make any difference to our internal experience when we’re standing there listening to him talking back?

Who would we be in that same situation if that thought somehow didn’t arise in us? For one, we might find that we’re actually curious, “I wonder why he’s taking this tact?” We’re listening. And we’re a bit more understanding of Joey.

It Doesn’t Mean We Condone His Behavior

But we may feel some compassion. After all he’s only 14 years old.  This might be Joey’s best attempt at standing up for himself.  And kind of like getting up on skis for the first time, he may still be a little wobbly.

Without the thought that Joey shouldn’t talk back, we would probably feel more connected to him. And we might be a lot less angry. In fact, without the anger, there’s no wavering in our stand. Anger makes us insecure, defensive, and irrational. Without our anger, Joey gets the calm message that this tactic simply doesn’t work. He gets an education.

Without the thought, we are loving, calm, neutral, engaged, happy, and strong.

Having This Experience Is The Only Purpose Of Question Four

Once we do this little experiment, we are free to go back to our normal ways of doing things. But it’s funny. Once we see a less painful way to deal with the situation, it’s hard to go back to our normal, painful way of doing things. Especially if the less painful way is more effective.

This is how our minds naturally open, and we find ourselves now ready to try the turnarounds.

Have You Ever Gotten Stuck On Question Four?

Please share a specific time where you had trouble answering question four in the comments below.

What was the concept you were working? What gave you trouble? And could seeing question four as an experiment have helped? Please share your experience with all of us.

_____________________

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. To learn more about about The Work, and how to use it in your daily life, read the article, “Three Things You Need To Do To Make The Work A Daily Practice.”

About This Article

If you like this article, feel free to share it with your own list, post it on your site, on your blog, or add it to your auto-responder. Twitter it, Facebook it, translate it.

As long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All links must remain in the article. No textual amendments permitted. Only exception is Twitter.

©2010-2011 Todd Smith, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Are Your Thoughts Keeping You From Serving?

Blaine and I were in Me and Ed’s pizza parlor last year waiting for another amazing pizza. That’s when we saw the T-shirts they had for sale.

On the front, in big red letters, the shirt said “It’s All About Me.” And on the sleeve was the “Me and Ed’s” logo. How cool is that?

We couldn’t resist it for a second. We both bought a shirt. And I’m still wearing mine today.

But Does This Statement Encourage Selfishness?

I’ve had people scowl at me with this shirt on. One tow-truck driver even told me directly that it’s not all about me.

As human beings, we don’t like selfishness. We respect selfless service, and giving, and generosity. Yet we secretly wish it really was all about us.

So How Do We Find The Balance?

If you’re like me, being self-absorbed comes naturally. Service is something I’d rather put off for another time. But service actually is my medicine.

In reality, I do love it when I volunteer. I feel great when I offer up my services to others. It feels fantastic to be generous. But, unfortunately, the inspiration to serve doesn’t last that long for me.

I volunteer, feel good, and then go right back to my little world of taking care of me. So if it feels so good to serve, why do I resist it so much?

The Problem Is There Are Underlying Beliefs Preventing Me From Serving

We all have these beliefs of one kind or another. Here’s a chance to take a look at them and see if they are really true.

If I believe that these concepts are true, I have no choice but to discontinue serving and go back to my survival mode.

Last week, for example, I did some service at Byron Katie’s nine day retreat called, “The School For The Work.” I did the photography. Here are some of the beliefs that I wrestled with last week.

Any of these might have stopped me from serving in this way. And they could stop me from volunteering this way in the future:

I’m not getting paid.
I’m losing income while I’m away.
I need to focus on making more money.
Photography is too much work.
I’m not a professional photographer anymore.
I will be setting a precedent.
As the photographer, I don’t get to participate in the exercises.
I have nothing to gain from this.
I will get exhausted.
I will need a week to recover.
This doesn’t fit into my plan for my life.

This Sounds Like A Lot Of Complaining, But It’s Actually A Gold Mine For A Seeker

This is a snap shot of my raw mind. These are the thoughts that hold me back from service. It’s great to get them down on paper. Now I can go through them one by one and question them using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work of Byron Katie.

The fact of the matter is, last week actually gave me a ton of energy. In spite of my resisting thoughts, I really enjoyed it.

But now at home, as I look back on it, my list of opposing thoughts comes back to the forefront of my mind. I find myself building up an internal resistance again to doing this kind of service in the future. These unquestioned thoughts are slowly taking over my life again.

That’s Why My Job This Week Is To Use The Work To Question All The Items On My List

So far I’ve done The Work on the first six items, and I feel much clearer.

I can see now that I’ve had an issue ever since I was a professional photographer. I’ve thought, “I have to get paid big money before I take any photos.” This idea has prevented me many times from photographing even for my family, let alone for a retreat like I did last week.

Doing The Work on this list is slowly shifting my perspective. I’m not worried about setting a precedent now. I can always say no in the future if I just don’t want to do it.

I did the photography because I like to do it, not because it pays. It was a choice I made freely and enthusiastically.

I Invite You To Try Something Similar

Do you like to serve in some way or another? What prevents you from doing it?

Choose a time when you wanted to serve but didn’t. Or a situation where you want to be of service, but keep resisting doing it. Choose one specific situation. What are the thoughts that are stopping you? Make a list, and take them to inquiry.

For each belief that you write down, use the One-Belief-At-A-Time Worksheet to do The Work. If you’re new to The Work, you can read more about The Work, and how to do it here.

When You Do The Work On These Thoughts You May Find Yourself Feeling Freer

We all love to serve. It just feels right. But we all have our reasons not to serve. When you do The Work on your list of reasons, you may find that you’re actually much freer to give than you thought you were.

The result is that you get to be generous, and to feel the joy of that.

You may even find that actually “It’s All About Me,” after all. The T-shirt was right. Even service is all about me because it makes me feel really good when I do it.

__________________

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. He loves discovering new areas in his personal life to do The Work. To do The Work with him, please visit his website here.

About This Article

If you like this article, feel free to share it with your own list, post it on your site, on your blog, or add it to your autoresponder. Twitter it, Facebook it, translate it.

As long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All links must remain in the article. No textual amendments permitted. Only exception is Twitter.

©2010-2011 Todd Smith, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Why St. Francis Thought A Reclusive Life Was Unnecessary

My partner, Blaine, sent this quote out a few weeks ago. I love that it came from him. We were both recluses for years. If it wasn’t for Blaine, I’d have missed this opportunity for growth:

“The widest possibilities for spiritual growth lie in the
give-and-take of everyday relationships. The truth of this is
brought out sweetly in a story about Saint Francis of Assisi.
Three young men approached Francis and asked his blessing
to become hermits and seek God — each in his own cave, deep in
the mountains of Umbria. Francis smiled. He instructed them to
be hermits indeed, but hermits all together in a single hut. One
should take the role of father; a second should think of himself
as the mother; and the third should be their child. Every few
months they should exchange roles. Living in this way they were
to establish among themselves perfect harmony, thinking always
of the needs of one another.

“We can almost see the three would-be recluses exchanging sidelong
glances. Their teacher had issued them a greater challenge than
any they had bargained for. Yet they carried out Francis’s
instructions, discovering that human relationships are the
perfect tool for sanding away our rough edges and getting at the
core of divinity within us. We need look no further than our own
family, friends, acquaintances, or even adversaries, to begin our
practice.”

From Eknath Easwaran, “Words to Live By” (Nilgiri Press, 1997)

Now Add The Work of Byron Katie

When you add The Work to the mix, the spiritual growth that comes from everyday relationships is greatly accelerated. Five years ago I felt trapped in my relationship with Blaine. I did a lot of work on it. Now, I feel grateful to be with him.

Whenever you are faced with pain in your relationship, The Work invites you to “judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions and turn it around.”

If it’s spiritual growth you’re interested in, everyday relationships combined with The Work make one of the best fertilizers that I know.
__________________

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. He loves to work with clients about their relationships. To do The Work with him, please visit his website here.

About This Article

If you like this article, feel free to share it with your own list, post it on your site, on your blog, or add it to your autoresponder. Twitter it, Facebook it, translate it.

As long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All links must remain in the article. No textual amendments permitted. Only exception is Twitter.

©2010-2011 Todd Smith, LLC. All rights reserved.

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My Back Hurts. Is That True?

Here’s what The Work of Byron Katie looks like in written form. Writing The Work can be a very thorough way to do it.

This is a recent bit of work that I did on my back. It was amazing to find how much of the pain was exaggerated, or remembered.

Stressful Concept: My back hurts

1. Is that true?

Yes

2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?

Yes

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

I feel depressed. I don’t want to work. I get spaced out. I stop trying. I feel frustrated. I feel like it’s not fair. I see myself as a victim. I desperately try to figure out what’s wrong with my back. I live in fear that it will flare up. I blame myself for causing the back pain years ago. I become pessimistic about everything. I become crabby. I try to drag others down.

I lose confidence. I don’t want to show my face. I withdraw from the world. I try to get others to have compassion on me. I complain. I have no energy. My creativity is zapped. I think I’m not good enough. I shelter myself. I expect others to be gentle with me. I imagine that it will get worse and worse with time. I’m angry at the place in my back for being weak. I blame God. I feel sorry for myself.

I want to start over. I replay the time in my life when it first happened over and over. I try to think if there’s something I could have done differently. I remember a time before when a massage therapist told me I had a perfect spine. I compare myself now to that image and feel bad. I imagine having to spend tons of money with chiropractors or other professionals to fix it. I’m frozen.

4. Who would you be without the thought that your back hurts (even if it does still hurt)?

I would be more enthusiastic. I would be confident, focused, and relaxed. I would feel like a player on the field. I would take a more active role in getting professional help. I’d be more interested in the tasks in front of me. I wouldn’t be looking for other people’s sympathy.

I would be more friendly, upbeat, outgoing and considerate. I would be happy. I would be more comfortable, more healthy, more centered. More open-minded and creative. I could see ways that I could serve others even with the pain. I would be more interested in others. I would enjoy my life more.

Turnaround: My back doesn’t hurt.

Examples of how this could be as true or truer:

1. My back doesn’t hurt as much as I think it does. For example, I imagine that my back pain starts in the center of my back and radiates out from there all the way up to my neck and down to my left hip. That’s my story of my pain. It’s big, and it’s like a spider web taking over my whole back. But if I look at it objectively at this instant, right now I only feel a slight tension in my left shoulder.

2. I am mainly remembering where my back was hurting earlier. And I remember back to where it used to be excruciating many years ago. I know the spot. And the slightest contraction in that area brings me to the conclusion that my back hurts. But when I’m totally objective about it right now I actually only find the slightest tinge of pain… more like tension really. Sure, I can move my back into a position that has pain. But when I’m just sitting here, there isn’t really much pain at all–just a memory of it.

3. I exaggerate the pain. It doesn’t hurt to the extent to which I exaggerate it.

4. It’s in one small part of my back. The rest of my back doesn’t hurt at all.

5. Even at it’s worst, it has never hurt all the time. Sometimes in the past when I have gotten very relaxed, it didn’t hurt. Sometimes I’ve gone for months with no pain. In fact, I notice that it hurts less now than it did a few minutes ago.

6. It doesn’t hurt enough to prevent me from typing, from having coherent thoughts, from having fun with friends, etc.

Original Statement: My back hurts (me) – Turnaround: I hurt my back

Examples:

1. When I feel sorry for myself, I notice that my back hurts more. It’s as if the added mental tension causes more physical tension in my back.

2. I make out my back to be my enemy. In reality it is my support. And it supports me very well. I’m expecting perfection from my back. By demanding perfection of my back I hurt my back’s good reputation as being a real support to me.

3. By being over protective of my back (trying to be too careful not to hurt it) I may be weakening my back.

4. By not seeking professional help, I am hurting my back.

5. When I don’t get enough exercise I hurt my back.

6. When I don’t take care of my emotions I hurt my back.

Original Statement: My back hurts (me) – Turnaround: I hurt myself

Examples:

1. I hurt myself by piling so much meaning on a painful back: I’m a failure, I’m a victim, I’m not good enough.

2. I hurt myself by obsessing over how I first hurt my back and replaying it over and over in my mind. Each time making myself feel bad.

3. I hurt myself by worrying about how my back will be much worse when I’m older. I can feel that projected pain now, long before it comes.

__________________

Now It’s Your Turn

Try doing a written piece of work on your own, and email it back to me (or post it on the blog). And let me know if you run into any difficulties, or have any questions.

You can download here the blank template (text file) that I used for doing The Work above.

__________________

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. He encourages everyone to try out The Work in written form. He also offers one-on-one facilitation sessions in The Work. To do The Work with him, please visit his website here.

About This Article

If you like this article, feel free to share it with your own list, post it on your site, on your blog, or add it to your autoresponder. Twitter it, Facebook it, translate it.

As long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All links must remain in the article. No textual amendments permitted. Only exception is Twitter.

©2010-2011 Todd Smith, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Unfairness On The Job (Can You Find Peace Even Here?)

“No, you can’t stay out past midnight on the weekends!”

Bobby’s mom was adamant. And her words were like hot knives in Bobby’s teenage soul. He exploded, “Mom, you are so unfair. I hate living in this house.” The rage boiled inside him, and he stormed away, and slammed the door behind him.

All his friends were staying out, and this would mean that he would be the only one that would be missing out. He couldn’t believe the injustice of it.

Do You Feel Like A Teenager Sometimes, Raging Against Injustice At Your Job?

Let’s suppose you’re a woman. Have you ever been promoted with no salary increase? Are there men around you who are doing less and making more?

When you come across this kind of unfairness in the workplace, it can be infuriating. And it can shut your life right down.

We humans usually react by either flying into a rage (and losing our job), or by resorting to the silent treatment, and raging on the inside.

Here’s What The Silent Treatment Looks Like

We immediately become the victim. And we know just how to play the role. In fact, most Hollywood actors would be jealous of the way we try to feel the part. The way we try to live it from the inside.

We crumple down our hearts, and avoid eye contact at all costs. We stay hunched over our work, hoping someone will notice our pain. And if they don’t notice, we make sure to bring it up from time to time. Nothing too dramatic, of course, but we drop hints. And it builds and builds as we find more ways to let our discontent be known.

And Being Good Actors, We Bring Our Role Home With Us

We talk about it with our friends, and spouses, and we use those conversations to fan the flames of our inner rage. Pretty soon our sleep is affected. And we are less patient with everyone in our lives.

But do we approach our bosses about the situation at work? No, we’re too busy being angry to think that way. And we’re afraid we might blow a gasket if we do. We’re afraid we might lose our job.

We need a way to regain balance. As long as we stay angry inside, it’s nearly impossible to make any constructive change.

Anger Makes Us Ineffective Negotiators

When Bobby, the teenager, was angry at his mom, the only things he could think to do were to yell at her, run out, and slam the door. The creative mind was not engaged. He was in no position to argue his case convincingly.

And when we’re angry at our jobs, we are physically incapable of negotiating properly. First of all we don’t even think of it. All rational thought goes out the window when we’re angry and playing the role of the victim.

And if we do somehow think of negotiating, we blow it because we are too demanding. We feel so strongly about our own injustice that we are not open to the other point of view.

We Need A Way To Separate The Emotions From The Truth

Think of all of the times we have let anger keep us from getting what we wanted. What if we had a way to make our anger evaporate completely? What could we accomplish?

We are intelligent. We pay attention to others and their needs. We should be able to negotiate our way to a good solution for us and the other party. If only there was such a way to dissipate the anger.

Even though there is no such thing as a magic wand to make our anger go away, there is a very powerful tool that we can use to regain peace of mind. It’s called the Work of Byron Katie.

What Is The Work Of Byron Katie?

The Work of Byron Katie is a simple tool for dealing with stressful situations. When applied to a situation like this, it can help resolve the anger in us. It can help us be more fair in our judgments. It can help us see things from the boss’s point of view. And it can lead to more confidence in negotiation.

The Work gives us a chance to put all our complaints on paper where they can be looked at objectively. And The Work invites us to question each of those stressful beliefs and find out the honest truth about them.

When you can see the difference between the truth and your emotional exaggeration of the truth, you can finally come to the negotiation table with a clear head.

But Reading About The Work Is Not Enough

You have to do it. If you are dealing with injustice at your job, or anywhere in your life, the first step is to get clear inside yourself about your own part in your suffering. Where are you playing the victim?

This takes commitment, courage and effort. It isn’t magic.

Take the time to write out a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on your boss, your work, or your co-workers. And do The Work on all the concepts you have written down. A facilitator can help if the issue is very charged for you.

Then, having done The Work, you may start to feel freer of the emotional burden you have been putting on yourself. And you will be in a much stronger position to negotiate for what you want, or to leave the situation with an open heart.

The Work Is About Your Peace Of Mind

When your mind is peaceful, situations can be dealt with much more rationally. Who knows, if Bobby hadn’t been so angry at his mom, he might have been able to win her over. A peaceful mind can be very convincing.

_______________________

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. Unfairness is one of his favorite stressful thoughts. It always finds a way to crop up in his thinking, and he loves how The Work cuts through all the exaggeration.

To do The Work with Todd book an appointment online here.

About This Article

If you like this article, feel free to share it with your own list, post it on your site, on your blog, or add it to your autoresponder. Twitter it, Facebook it, translate it.

As long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All links must remain in the article. No textual amendments permitted. Only exception is Twitter.

©2010-2011 Todd Smith, LLC. All rights reserved.

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When Doing The Work, Do You Get Overwhelmed By Tons Of Other Stuff Coming Up?

Imagine you have a job at a nursery. And you are left alone to deal with 20 crying babies. Is there any sane way to deal with such a situation?

One way is to take just one baby on your lap and hold it. And check it. Is it hungry? Does it need to be changed? Is it tired? As you investigate and deal with the issues with this one baby, and hold it lovingly, it’s crying often starts to fade away.

And when that baby has stopped crying, you can set it down and pick up the next one. One by one, you take care of the crying babies. And it doesn’t mean you have to completely ignore the rest. You may bring them all near to you, and touch them too from time to time whenever there’s an outburst. But your main focus is on the baby in your lap.

Stressful Thoughts Are Like Crying Babies

They all demand attention. And when there are lots of them, it can drive you crazy. So what’s the sane way to deal with all those crying thoughts?

You can do the same thing that you do with crying babies. Take one of them and hold it, and listen to its complaints. Hear it. And lovingly investigate it. Listen to it, but don’t buy into everything it says. Question it.

The process I’m referring to is called The Work of Byron Katie. And it’s a simple way to give your stressful thoughts the attention they deserve. And to find the truth behind them.

But When You’re Doing The Work, You Can Run Into A Problem

You may start working on one stressful thought, and it gives rise to another one. And another, and another, and another. It can be overwhelming, and frustrating when you see that the number thoughts you want to do The Work on is increasing faster than you are able to deal with them.

If this happens, there is a simple solution to the problem. Katie calls it the “sidebar.” A sidebar is where you put things for later.

How Do You Use The Sidebar When You’re Doing The Work?

Your sidebar is a separate piece of paper. On this separate piece of paper, you can write down the new stressful thoughts that come up when you’re in the middle of doing The Work.

You can even have a special notebook for this purpose. But don’t don’t get sidetracked long. Just write them down for future work. And come back to the concept you started with. That’s the baby on your lap. The sidebar concepts can wait until that one is done.

Let’s Say You’re Doing The Work On The Stressful Thought, “She Doesn’t Care About Me”

And half way through, you hit a land mine. All of a sudden you start thinking, “She ignored me last week at that party, what a *#[email protected]*” And then it reminds you of something your sister did to you ten years ago. And then you start thinking, no one likes me. And your mind races to find the proof.

This is a great time to take out your “sidebar” notebook and start putting these stressful thoughts on paper. When you have written them all down, and feel empty again, then come back to the concept you were working, “She doesn’t care about me,” and pick up where you left off.

This Is A Way To Be Gentle With Yourself

And it’s a way to be gentle with your stressful thoughts. Even stressful thoughts have a right to live. And when you give them this little bit of attention by writing them down on your sidebar, they feel listened to. And they don’t cry as loudly. So you can go back and focus on the first thought once again.

When you’re done with the first thought, and you’ve worked it all the way through, then you can pick up your sidebar and see what the next concept is to work.

Something Remarkable Happens When You Do This

You may find that as you work in-depth with the original concept, the sidebar issues sometimes loosen up as well.

It’s like being in that room full of 20 crying babies. If you take the time to calm one baby, it sometimes has a calming effect on the others. Some babies may not be as seriously in need as they appear to be at first. Some babies are just crying because the other babies are.

When one baby stops crying, some of the other babies may stop on their own.

It’s still valuable, though, to go through your sidebar list thoroughly. You’ll know which ones still need your full attention. You can do The Work on those charged concepts one by one, starting with the one that has the most charge on it.

If You Want To Take This Further

Here’s another exercise that you can do. Write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on those thoughts that are overwhelming you.

For example, “I’m overwhelmed by my thoughts because… there are more of them than I can deal with. …they all need my attention right away.”

Download and fill out a whole Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, and work it all the way through. You may learn a lot about yourself if you do.

______________________

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. Doing a facilitation session with him is another good way to deal with overwhelming thoughts while doing The Work. His job as a facilitator is to gently keep you in The Work, and he can show you what it looks like to use the “sidebar” approach in real life.

Todd will be going to a fixed rate for facilitation sessions very soon. If you want to take advantage of the current “by donation only” setup, you need to book your appointment in the next week or so.

Here’s What One Client Had To Say About Her Facilitation Session:

“I did a meditation right after our session and it was so deep. I can’t believe how light and empty I feel right now. I feel like I’m actually at peace with my relationship with my ex-boyfriend.

I’ve been doing The Work but hadn’t experienced how powerful it can be until today. Now I get how it works! I hope I can hang on to this feeling for a while. But the good thing is if I lose it, I know how to get it back.”

Tara Verma
Toronto, Ontario

About This Article

If you like this article, feel free to share it with your own list, post it on your site, on your blog, or add it to your autoresponder. Twitter it, Facebook it, translate it.

As long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All links must remain in the article. No textual amendments permitted. Only exception is Twitter.

©2010-2011 Todd Smith, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Why Practicing Peace Is An Ineffective Approach To Meditation

Let’s suppose that you want to be a wealthy person. And let’s suppose you’ve got a plan.

Every day you imagine yourself in a wealthy home. You read descriptions of wealthy lifestyles. And you try to be as wealthy as you can.

How Long Will It Take You To Become Wealthy?

It will probably take a long, long time. In fact, it might never happen. This is because wealth is not an attitude. No matter what the New Age gurus tell you, you can’t get wealthy just by pretending that you are.

And Likewise, You Can’t Find Peace In Meditation By Pretending To Be Peaceful

If you try to be peaceful when, in fact, you’re stressed, it won’t help you to experience real peace. In other words, peace is the goal of meditation, but it is not the means.

You can’t practice peace any more than you can practice being wealthy. Trying to be peaceful yields superficial results at best.

Yet Many Forms Of Meditation Promote This Approach

You come to meditation wanting to find peace, and they teach you that you should experience stillness. “Try to minimize your thinking,” they say. “Be in the here and now and experience the peace of it.”

How the heck do you do that?

No wonder people become skeptical of meditation. No wonder it’s hard to keep up the practice.

It Is Frustrating To Try To Be Peaceful When You’re Not

You can sit there concentrating with all your might on getting peaceful and end up feeling more stressed in the process.

Then the self-deprecation begins. You think, “I’m no good at it. I’m not very enlightened. I’m a failure. I’m just not pure enough to meditate.” And you go from bad to worse.

Or You Take A Different Approach

You think of nice feelings of peace. You imagine peaceful scenes. And in some ways you really do feel peaceful. And you try with all your might to hold on to that peace when you’re done with meditation.

You speak softly, almost in a whisper. You avoid “negativity” because it brings you out of your “peace.” And you fail completely to maintain your peace when you’re faced with a real crisis in your life.

This is called mood-making. You feel nice, pretending that all is well, but it doesn’t serve you in real life.

If You Really Want Peace You Have To Start From Where You Are

That’s why I love The Work of Byron Katie as a form of meditation. It’s so down to earth. Instead of trying to be peaceful, you take a look at your stressful thoughts.

And you don’t try to hold them in your mind abstractly. You write them down.

The process starts right where you are. If your teenager is driving you crazy, that’s where you start your meditation. The mind can hold on to that. It’s got a reference. In fact, it’s really interested.

Problems Get The Mind’s Attention

So why fight against the mind’s attraction to its problems? The Work of Byron Katie lets the mind go there. But it doesn’t let the mind just wallow in the problem, or wallow in the stressful thought. That wouldn’t help at all.

No, The Work starts with a stressful thought, but that’s just the starting point. The power of The Work lies in its ability to question the stressful thought. And when the stressful thought is questioned, it loses its grip on the mind.

And this results in peace.

You May Be Thinking, “The Work Isn’t Real Meditation, I Want Something More Traditional”

The Work was discovered by Bryon Katie in 1986, but actually it’s not new. You will find the essence of The Work in many spiritual traditions.

For example, The Work is described in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, an ancient Sanskrit document that is a long respected authority on the discipline of yoga and meditation. One of the verses of that text contains the practice of The Work in seed form.

In chapter 2, sutra 33, Patanjali writes, “When the mind is disturbed by negative thoughts, find the exact opposite of that thought and contemplate it.”

The verse doesn’t tell you exactly how to do this, but it supports the idea of this approach to meditation. Today, we have a systematic way to use this ancient sutra in The Work of Byron Katie.

Don’t Mistake The Goal For The Path Of Meditation

Peace is the goal of meditation, but it’s not the path. Some meditation techniques instruct you simply to be peaceful. At best this gives superficial peace, which evaporates the moment that life gets hard.

To experience real peace through meditation, you have to start from where you are. And for most of us, that means starting with our stressful thoughts. The Work of Byron Katie is a form of meditation that allows you to question your stressful thoughts and find peace as a result.

If this approach appeals to you, read the article, “Three Things You Need To Do To Make The Work A Daily Practice.”

When you make The Work your meditation practice, you won’t get stuck trying to do the impossible. People don’t get wealthy by just trying to be wealthy. And people don’t get peaceful by trying to be peaceful.

Peace cannot be imitated. But peace does come of its own accord when you question your stressful thoughts.

__________________________

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. Visit Todd’s website to learn how you can do The Work with Todd.

Here’s What One Client Had To Say About Her Facilitation Session:

“Being a long time meditator, I thought, ‘Well, I have a pretty good handle on my life and I can figure this out. I kind of understand how to turn things around, and see how I’m projecting my thought onto someone else.’

“But even though that awareness may be there, it’s no comparison to having someone else actually ask you the questions and you actually answer them.”

Kia Scherr

www.kiascherr.com

About This Article

If you like this article, feel free to share it with your own list, post it on your site, on your blog, or add it to your autoresponder. Twitter it, Facebook it, translate it.

As long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All links must remain in the article. No textual amendments permitted. Only exception is Twitter.

©2010-2011 Todd Smith, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Can I Write A Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet On Myself?

The air is cool, and the distinct smell of breakfast greets Jeff as he stands there by the water’s edge. He runs a hand across his face and contemplates the three-day stubble that is growing on his cheeks.

There’ll be no shower today. But should he shave? He has resisted shaving every day so far on this camping trip, and the stubble is starting to get itchy.

Giving in, Jeff pulls out his razor, lathers up his face, and begins to shave for the first time in his life without a mirror. He feels like he is fumbling in the dark. He doesn’t know exactly where to place the razor.

In fact, each pass of the razor seems only to meet the previous pass by rough approximation. And when he shows up for breakfast his friends point out in detail all the places that he missed, and all the cuts he managed to inflict upon himself

When You Do The Work On Yourself It’s Like Shaving Without A Mirror

Can it be done? Yes, of course.

But it requires an added level of ability to do with any competence. If you are new to The Work, you can end up missing things, or even hurting yourself.

That’s why we recommend that you don’t write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on yourself, especially when you’re new to The Work.

Here’s An Example Of What I Mean

Earlier this week a client wrote a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on himself and brought it to a facilitation session. One of the one-liners on his worksheet was, “I need to pay my bills on time.”

Now, this may be a valid piece of work, but it is tricky. As you do The Work on this concept, eventually you will get to the turnaround, “I don’t need to pay my bills on time.”

There certainly is truth in this, from the biggest perspective. But if you’re not experienced in The Work, you might think of it as a kind of excuse to not pay your bills on time.

The Work Should Never Be Used As An Excuse To Do Or Not Do Something

This is called doing The Work with a motive. You want something, and you engineer The Work to “give you permission” to do it. This is pure trickery, and brings you no closer to finding your truth, or to experiencing any peace.

The problem with writing Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets on yourself is that it is sometimes hard to get any separation between your motives and the truth. By contrast, when you write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on someone else, your judgments tend to be less prone to trying to engineer The Work, or using it to get what you want.

As You Gain Experience In The Work You Can Catch This

When you’ve done a lot of worksheets on other people, and you have an understanding of the spirit of The Work (that it’s about taking responsibility), then you can do I-statements when they come up from time to time.

But you will also find that almost always behind the I-statement is a different stressful thought that is not about yourself, but is about someone or something else. We tend to push these thoughts away, or pretend they don’t exist, because we’ve been taught not to judge other people. It’s not nice to judge other people. But it’s ok to judge ourselves, we think.

Say For Example Someone Shows No Interest In You At A Party

You might conclude: “I’m too fat.” And use that thought to do The Work. But underneath that thought are other judgments about other people. For example, “That person over there is too fat.” When you stop and look, you might find that you have lots of judgments about fat people, and thin people. And about people who avoid others at parties.

In other words, when you come up with an I-statement, take a few minutes and look around. Is the self-judgment secondary to a different thought about another person? For example, “She should accept me as I am.”

What is fascinating about judging other people, is that they serve as perfect mirrors for our thinking. When you judge other people, you start to see the parts of yourself that you are hiding from yourself.

If you only do The Work on judgments of yourself, you will limit your judgements to the ones that you are already aware of. But when you do The Work on other people you start to see the things about you that you had no idea that you did.

But Sometimes The Self-Judgement Is Really What You Need To Work

If that is the case, and if you are new to The Work, you may want to work that statement with a facilitator who has experience spotting the difference between motive driven work and work for the love of truth.

I-statements can be good to work, but only if you’re clear about your motives. And only if you’ve tried to find some judgments about the other people that got you into this self-deprecating spiral.

Shaving Is Done Best With A Mirror

And The Work is done best with a judgement about another person or thing. When you do The Work on seemingly unrelated things (other people), you may start to notice that your self-judgements diminish on their own. It seems strange to say, but doing The Work on other people is a shortcut to learning about yourself.

If Jeff had used a mirror when he shaved, he would have ended up with a much cleaner shave. And if you use your judgments about other people as a mirror, you will get a much clearer understanding of yourself than when you try to judge yourself alone.

__________________________

“By donation only” will come to an end in October. Until now, Todd’s facilitation service has been charging by donation only. In October, this will change to a fixed rate. If you want to get in at the “donation only” rate, this is your last chance to do so. Visit Todd’s website to learn how you can do The Work with Todd.

Here’s What One Client Had To Say About Her Facilitation Session:

“Being a long time meditator, I thought, ‘Well, I have a pretty good handle on my life and I can figure this out. I kind of understand how to turn things around, and see how I’m projecting my thought onto someone else.’

“But even though that awareness may be there, it’s no comparison to having someone else actually ask you the questions and you actually answer them.”

Kia Scherr

About This Article

If you like this article, feel free to share it with your own list, post it on your site, on your blog, or add it to your autoresponder. Twitter it, Facebook it, translate it.

As long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All links must remain in the article. No textual amendments permitted. Only exception is Twitter.

©2010-2011 Todd Smith, LLC. All rights reserved.

Subscribe by RSS | Subscribe by Email

Why Happiness Is Never Enough (And How To Find Peace Instead)

Have you ever wanted someone to like you? It’s thrilling isn’t it?

And scary.

And did you ever get lucky enough to find out that the person you like likes you too? There is no way to contain your happiness. The smile simply cannot be wiped from your face.

Unless, of course, they withdraw their love. In which case your happiness evaporates immediately. And you feel empty and forlorn. Quite the opposite of happiness.

What Is Happiness?

There are many ways to use the word, but basically happiness is the feeling that happens when you get what you want. If you want someone’s love and you get it, you feel happy. If you want a position at work and you get it, you feel happy. If you want a new car and you get it, you feel happy.

But there’s a problem with happiness. It’s dependent on outside things. It’s dependent on things we can’t always control. Another person’s heart, our boss’s opinion, the amount of money in our bank account.

This makes our happiness unstable, and makes our life a football of situations and circumstances. What we need is a more stable basis for our life.

Peace Is A Much More Stable Basis

What is peace? Peace is the feeling that happens when we are content with the way things are. Peace is content if someone loves us, and even if that person pulls away. Peace is ok if we get the position at work that we were hoping for or not. Peace is grateful no matter what car we happen to be driving at the time.

Peace does not depend on outside things. It does not depend on us getting what we want. It is a quieter emotion than happiness. And it is available to us regardless of our circumstances and situations.

Peace Is What The Work Of Byron Katie Is About

The Work of Byron Katie is not about getting happiness. It is about finding peace. Can you be content even when your income drops to zero? Can you find peace even in divorce? Can you find the advantages of someone yelling at you? If not, The Work is here for you.

Step by step, The Work takes you from a state of anger and complaining to a place of peace about the way things are. But only if you’re open to it. No one can give you peace but you.

Here Is A Common Mistake When Doing The Work

It’s sometimes tempting to do The Work to fix yourself. And when you do, you miss it completely. If you want to fix yourself, you have already set up conditions: if I’m successful then I’ll be happy. If not, then I don’t like The Work.

In using The Work this way, you are not looking for peace, but for happiness. Happiness based on if The Work is able to fix what you think is broken about you. This is conditional, and a setup for disappointment.

Try Doing The Work Just For The Love Of Peace

Or another way to say it is, do The Work for the love of truth. Look at it as an experiment. A chance to test your theories. An opportunity to challenge yourself, and see if you can find the good side of a bad situation. When you do, you will find peace. And where there is peace, the seeds of happiness also find fertile ground.

The Next Time You Do The Work, Check Your Motives

Are you doing The Work to fix yourself (I want my emotional pain to go away–then only I’ll be happy)? Or are you doing it to make peace with your world the way it is? It is a subtle difference but the results are as different as night and day.

__________________________

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie, and writes regularly about this process. Learn how you can do The Work with Todd here.

About This Article

If you like this article, feel free to share it with your own list, post it on your site, on your blog, or add it to your autoresponder. Twitter it, Facebook it, translate it.

As long as you leave it intact and do not alter it in anyway. All links must remain in the article. No textual amendments permitted. Only exception is Twitter.

©2010-2011 Todd Smith, LLC. All rights reserved.

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