Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Always Work (And How To Improve Your Chances This Year)

The wind feels great on your face. And the coast of California moves slowly away as you head out to sea. If all goes well, you should be in Hawaii in a couple of weeks.

But in the early evening, the wind shifts from northeast to northwest. You tighten down the sails. The hull of the boat now shudders as you crash through the oncoming waves, and you begin to feel a little seasick. After an hour or two of this misery, you change your plan.

"It’s much more comfortable to sail with the wind to your back," you think. So you shift your heading to make the sailing a bit more smooth. The logic is good. But it comes with only one slight problem. Hawaii is no longer the destination you are heading for.

It’s Even Easier To Give Up On New Year’s Resolutions

The picture may look rosy when we first make our new year’s resolutions, but things can change as the months and weeks go by.

When we stand at the the start of a new year and look forward, our vision is clear and broad. It’s easy to see the big picture, and to make plans for the new year ahead. It’s inspiring to make new year’s resolutions that we really want to reach.

But after a few weeks of easy sailing, we often find that the winds shift. The going gets more difficult. We meet resistance and distractions, both internal and external. And soon we shift away from the new year’s resolutions that we made.

Here Are Some Ideas To Keep You On Track This Year

If you want to reach a goal, there is nothing better than slow, steady progress every day. Irregularity is the surest way to kill your meditation practice, your exercise practice, your habit of doing The Work daily, or your balanced routine.

And as important as regularity may be, holding back when you have extra time is even more important.

If you outdo yourself one day when you have lots of time, you’ll probably take it easy for the next day or two after that. It’s human nature. And that’s where things begin to fall apart. Regular, even practice, day-in and day-out is the fastest way to reach long-term goals.

One great way to stay regular as you move towards your goal is to join a group of people who will travel with you. If you want to go somewhere fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a group.

A group lends accountability, and uses positive peer pressure to your advantage. That’s why I’m thinking about adding a membership forum this year to The Work As Meditation website for people who want to support each other every day to do The Work.

And Speaking Of The Work, There’s Another Great Tool To Stay On Track

You can use The Work of Byron Katie to question any points of resistance you may have in moving towards your new year’s resolutions. What are the thoughts that would prevent you from reaching your goal? Make a list, and use the four questions and turnarounds of The Work to see if they are really valid or not.

If you are new to The Work, you can learn how to do The Work here.

You might think this process will take too much time. But you can do The Work in written form in about 10-15 minutes. There’s no need to write a book. In just a few minutes, you can thoroughly examine the thoughts that are causing you resistance.

But Don’t Do This In Your Head

Take a few minutes to write down your new year’s resolutions. Then pick one. For your favorite resolution, write down all the reasons why you think you can’t do it, or might not be able to do it. And spend 10-15 minutes questioning each one of those thoughts with the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

When the internal resistances have been questioned, you will either find that your new year’s resolution is not really an important goal for you, or you will find that there is no valid reason not to do it this year.

And who knows. You may even find yourself in Hawaii after all.

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. His new year’s resolution is to finish his book on The Work as written meditation this year. To do The Work with Todd by phone, please schedule an Advice-Free Facilitation session 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 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.

Subscribe by RSS | Subscribe by Email

Stressful Holidays? Don’t Miss This Opportunity

The red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, are spectacular.

But they are at the height of their beauty only once or twice a year–when it snows.

It is a photographer’s dream to capture these red rocks in snow. But the problem is that you never know what day of the year it will snow. And the snow only lasts for a day or so. So there is no way to know in advance when to plan a visit to Sedona to photograph the snow.

Pretty much the only way to photograph the snow on the red rocks is to live there, as I did for one year, and to pounce when the opportunity presents itself.

Likewise, The Holiday Season Provides A Rare Opportunity For Seekers

It provides an opportunity for stressful thoughts, that lie dormant all year, to surface. And it provides an opportunity to learn from them.

The holiday season is supposed to be the most beautiful time of the year. It’s supposed to bring out the best in everyone. It’s a time for families to come together and share good times together. It’s a time of good food. And good music. And great gifts. And lots of love.

So what happens if the holidays don’t live up to these grand expectations? What if you’re stranded all alone with no good times to share? What if there’s no tasty food? What if there’s no love? Or what if being together with your family makes you get irritated, or melancholy?

Then What?

Then the holidays become a time of great frustration. A time where we beat ourselves up, or beat up our family members when they push our old buttons once again.

Maybe there’s a reason why we live far away from our families. And when we come together again, old issues may flare up, and drown out the holiday cheer.

But An Opportunist Relishes These Challenges

Most of us would rather avoid the experience of stress at all costs. We might try to avoid the holidays completely. Or we might try to pretend that all is well while we’re with our families, while ignoring the bristling feelings inside us.

But if you’re serious about your own spiritual development, the holiday season can be the perfect catalyst for growth. Especially if you use The Work of Byron Katie to question your stressful thoughts.

What Is The Work of Byron Katie?

The Work of Byron Katie is a unique approach to spiritual growth that starts with stress. Many forms of spiritual development focus on peace and how to expand it in your life.

The Work of Byron Katie focuses on stress. It focuses on your complaints and troubles. And it uses them as a starting point for spiritual inquiry. When you use The Work regularly, you find yourself looking forward to stressful situations because you learn so much by doing The Work on them.

That’s Why The Holidays Can Be Such A Boon

Like the snow on the red rocks of Sedona, holiday stresses are special. They only come up once a year, and maybe not every year. When else can you feel the unique sadness of remembering a lost loved one during the holidays? When else do you get a chance to spend time in close quarters with siblings and other relatives who are skilled at pushing long forgotten buttons in you?

It’s a rare opportunity to uncover stressful thoughts that never surface during the rest of the year. And when you capture on paper the unique, stressful thoughts of the holiday season, and do The Work on them, you can gain deep peace indeed.

This Holiday Season I’m Visiting Family In New York City

And, as much as I love my family, it’s not always stress-free to be with them. You see, I like a quiet life where I’m in control. I lived in an ashram for about a decade, and I still structure a very simple, routine life for myself at home.

Coming to New York City challenges me in every way. It challenges me to adjust my routine and my diet without compromising my health. It challenges me to stand up for myself when I don’t want to go shopping sometimes. It challenges me to not look for approval from my family members, and to not get down on myself when they don’t give it.

And For Each Stressful Situation I Write A Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet

In fact, I’ve written half a dozen Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets in the last week since I’ve been here. A Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is the first step for doing The Work. It is a chance to get your stressful thoughts on paper so they can be questioned.

I’ve worked some of these worksheets, and I’m saving others for when I return home. I love to work Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets slowly over weeks or months. I love to tease apart those stressful situations with the four questions and turnarounds of The Work. That’s why I’m gathering as many as I can now for later use.

Who Knew I Would Feel Like A Kid In A Candy Store Actually Looking For Stress!

I’m on a scavenger hunt for stressful situations. And so far the harvest has been rich and plentiful. And I invite you to do the same.

Whatever your holidays plans may be, keep a notebook handy, or a special document on your computer. And keep a list of the stressful situations that come up for you this holiday season. Write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet for each one. Then, either work it right away, or file it for future work this January.

The Time For Photographing Red Rocks In Snow Is Limited

And so is the time you have to write down stressful holiday thoughts. You may not get the same opportunity to find fresh, stressful situations next month.

When the family issues have been swept under the carpet again, you may have to wait until next year, or even later, to have a crack at them.


Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. He loves taking advantage of everyday situations to do The Work. To start taking advantage of the stressful situations that come up for you, schedule an Advice-Free Facilitation session here.


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

Marina Brito
Real Estate Agent
Fairfax, Virginia

“Before our session, I was really frustrated and unhappy and just stuck.”

“That’s how I felt. I just kept going around and around. And the more it happened, the more angry I got. I was feeling like I didn’t have a way out. And afterwards I felt like I had an open path to change the way I was feeling. So it was pretty neat to realize that I did have a path open through that tunnel of craziness.

“What I found from working with you is that you just really tried to get to the bottom of the thoughts that I was having and to tried to flesh them out. And tried to have me try to turn them around by myself, instead of adding your own point of view necessarily.

“I think my favorite part was that you made it fun. It was light. Obviously the reason we’re dong The Work is because we’re unhappy about something, or something’s bothering us. And what I found is that you were able to find fun in it. And it wasn’t a bad thing. It was actually great to find something to laugh about. It was light. It felt like you could release all of the tension and try to work through it by having a little fun.”

Schedule an Advice-Free Facilitation session 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 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.

Subscribe by RSS | Subscribe by Email

Perfectionism: Is It Good, Or Bad?

The sleek, white case is alluring, smooth and cool to the touch. My brand new iPhone 4S sits comfortably in my hand, and draws admiration from all sides.

Its bright, colorful display makes doing mundane tasks feel like fun to me. And I love how much room it has for my music and videos.

And did I mention Siri? Now, without touching a button, using only my voice, I can send text messages, respond to emails, or find a nearby restaurant. It feels like it was designed just for me.

And it was… by a perfectionist.

Only A Perfectionist Could Get Something So Right

Perfectionism is a way that some people, like me, tend to approach their work. Non-perfectionists tend to think of a job as merely something that has to be done. Something to be completed as soon as possible. But perfectionists approach a job quite differently.

For a perfectionist, a job is a way to shine. A way to stand out. Maybe even a way to validate oneself. A perfectionist will take as much time as the job needs, no matter what other plans must get derailed. A perfectionist tries his very best to remove any possibility of criticism. And the good thing is, when it’s successful, a perfectionist’s work is wonderful to behold.

Steve Jobs Was A Perfectionist

Jobs paid attention to every minute detail of his Apple products. The size of a font was important to him. The particular screws holding an iPhone together were a big deal for him. Nothing was too small to be overlooked.

He wanted the overall experience of using one of his products to be totally amazing from beginning to end. And in many ways he succeeded.

In Fact, Perfectionism Is A Really Good Thing

I love that Steve Jobs was a perfectionist about the computers I have used for years. I also really appreciate the fact that airplane mechanics are perfectionists. And bridge engineers for that matter. I love the fact that my doctor is a perfectionist. And I’m very glad that Ansel Adams, and other photographers that I admire are perfectionists as well.

Perfectionism brings amazing products, amazing works of art, amazing books, and lots of wows. Perfectionism is fantastic when you’re on the receiving end of things. And it can be a joy for the perfectionist as well.

But There’s A Problem With Perfectionism

It can drive you nuts when you’re trying to do things perfectly. And you can end up driving everyone around you nuts as well. Look at Steve Jobs again. He produced amazing products, but he often made life hell for himself, and others, in the process.

It’s great to do an amazing job at things. It’s wonderful to really nail it. But when perfectionism drives us out of balance, then it no longer serves. When it makes us stay up all night, and forgo time with family and friends week after week, it no longer works. When it ruins our health, our relationships, and our sense of balance in life, perfectionism is no longer a friend.

And the telltale sign that perfectionism has gotten out of balance is the experience of stress.

Do You Feel Stressed When You’re Being A Perfectionist?

Sometimes being a perfectionist feels great. You’re simply doing a great job. But sometimes it’s stressful. Notice how it’s different for different jobs. On one job you may not care much about being perfect.

Yet for another job you’d rather avoid the job completely rather than show up with even one hair out of place, or one pixel out of place, or one "t" that wasn’t crossed. Notice how these are the jobs that are tied up with your identity.

For Example, I Used To See Myself As A Photographer

That was my identity. And as a result I became very picky about my photos. I didn’t let people see the shots that were not outstanding. I spent endless hours editing, and tweaking, and polishing in Photoshop. I made adjustments that no one but me would notice. And I hesitated accepting new jobs because of how much work I would make for myself to get it perfect.

My photos were excellent, but the pressure inside me was tremendous.

What If We Could Perform Good Work Without All The Pressure?

Athletes call it the zone. Peak performance without the pressure. Saints call it humility. Performing up to the highest standards of what is needed without a need to take credit for it.

You could also call it freedom.

So How Can We Live This Way?

The secret to freedom lies in finding balance. And for me, nothing helps me find balance in stressful situations better than The Work of Byron Katie. When I start to feel stressed-out by a job where I’m being a perfectionist, I stop and do The Work. I write down what I am believing about the job and use The Work to do self-inquiry.

For example, a few weeks ago when I announced my new sales page on my website, I was starting to get stressed about getting it perfect. I was starting to think, "It has to be a big deal. It has to wow people."

And I watched myself start shifting my priorities in my mind away from having fun on the weekend and relaxing in the evenings towards slaving away all week before the deadline.

So I Did The Work On It

I worked the concepts, "There’s not enough time to get it all done," and "I have to do it perfectly." I found that there was plenty of time to get all the important things done. After doing The Work, I actually was free to prioritize, and cut out jobs that were not necessary.

And I started to see the product I was creating as being simply Version 1.0. There was no need to get it perfect from day one. It’s much more fun to let things evolve naturally anyway. And as a result of that insight, I was able to enjoy my weekend and my evenings instead of slaving away.

But Won’t The Work Make You Complacent?

You might think that doing The Work will make you stop trying. You might think that you need that pressure to perform. But that’s not my experience. The less stressed out I am about a job, the more my enthusiasm soars, and the more creative and productive I become.

Isn’t it just as possible that an unstressed, happy mind might actually lead to an even more perfect product? And who says that it has to be finished right away? Sometimes slow and steady wins the race.

Oops. I gotta go. My iPhone is ringing. No time left to obsess over getting this article perfect. You’ll have to flesh out the rest of the details on your own.

Here’s An Invitation To Do The Work

Look around your life and notice where perfectionism has become stressful for you. Find an example where this has happened, or is happening. Maybe it was your wedding planning. Maybe it’s your hair. Maybe it’s your next report. Maybe it’s dinner you’re planning to make for your friends next week.

When you’ve found the situation, make a list of stressful thoughts by completing the following sentence, "I have to do it perfectly because…" Write down all the reasons why you think you have to do it perfectly. Then do The Work on each item on the list, as well as for the original concept, "I have to do it perfectly."

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. He loves finding the sweet spot between perfectionism and peace. To do The Work with Todd please book an appointment for Advice Free Facilitation here.

Note: I am considering starting a monthly teleconference next year where we could do The Work together for an hour each month. I’m envisioning volunteers submitting Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets ahead of time, or stressful one-liners, and I would facilitate. If you would be interested, let me know.

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.

Subscribe by RSS | Subscribe by Email

Three Reasons Why “The Mental Cleanse” Is My Favorite Byron Katie Event


I still love to stand in front of the ice cream counter like a kid. And try to decide on the best flavor for my ice cream cone.

I know I can’t go wrong. But I like to take my time and think about it. I like to try on all the flavors in my mind, and maybe get a sample or two, before I commit.

And I’m Kind Of Like That When It Comes To Byron Katie Events Too

They are all fantastic courses. But I still like to fantasize about which one is my favorite.

For years I never had the money to go to an event with Byron Katie. And I was very content to do The Work on my own at home every day. I was witnessing big changes in my life as a direct result of doing The Work on my own. And I was happy not spending money on events that I couldn’t afford.

But by pure accident one day I walked into a hotel in Los Angeles where Katie was holding an event. I couldn’t believe that I had stumbled upon it by accident. And someone suggested that I apply for a scholarship. A few months later I did the photography for The Mental Cleanse in exchange for the course fee.

After that I was hooked. And as I got more money, I tried them all.

Byron Katie Does Tons Of Events Each Year

Her calendar is pretty much booked every weekend, and she travels all around the world doing these events. But her biggest events are:

The School of The Work (three times per year)
The New Year’s Mental Cleanse (end of the year)
The No Body Intensive (December every year)

So Why Is The Mental Cleanse My Favorite?

It’s my favorite for these three main reasons:

1. You can ask Katie any questions you like.
2. You can do The Work with her.
3. It’s cheaper than her other courses.

Let’s look at each these:

1. You Can Ask Katie Any Questions

The Mental Cleanse is unlike other events with Katie. At most events, Katie does not spend much time with open-ended questions. She prefers that we do The Work to find our own answers.

But The Mental Cleanse is different. It’s more like a reunion. A friendly gathering where anything can be talked about. You can bring your questions as well as your stressful thoughts to the Mental Cleanse. There is room for both.

Unlike other workshops that Katie does, there is no agenda for the Mental Cleanse. All day long for four days straight she takes questions and invites people to join her to do The Work on stage.

Which brings us to the second reason I love The Mental Cleanse.

2. You Can Do The Work With Katie

The power of The Work lies in your answers to the questions. It’s great to do The Work at home, and go deep into the world of self-discovery. You don’t need anyone to help.

But when you’re dealing with a sticky issue, it is very helpful to have an experienced facilitator lead you through the four questions. And most importantly, to hold you to the questions when your mind wants to wiggle away into justification or defense.

At the Mental Cleanse, you have a chance to do The Work with the most experienced facilitator in the world, Byron Katie. If you are in a hurry to find the truth, this is a great opportunity. It was at the Mental Cleanse in 2009 that I did a session with Katie on “living up to my full potential.”

And there’s one more advantage to The Mental Cleanse.

3. The Mental Cleanse Is Cheaper Than Other Courses

The Mental Cleanse is not expensive compared to Katie’s in-depth training course for The Work, called The School For The Work. The School costs $3,545 for 9 days, and the Mental Cleanse costs $500 for four days.

The School is a much more thorough and intense workshop, which I invite everyone to experience at least once in their life. But the Mental Cleanse is pure delight. Four days of fun playing in The Work, with no agenda.

So That’s Why The Mental Cleanse Is My Flavor Of Choice Today

I’ll be taking a double dip of fun this year (on a waffle cone, of course) at the New Year’s Mental Cleanse. It will be held in Los Angeles from December 28th through Jan 1. If you plan to go, let me know. Seeing you there would be like getting extra sprinkles on my cone.

You can sign up for The Mental Cleanse on Katie’s website here.

Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work. He will be traveling over the holidays to New York to be with family. Next Wednesday, Dec. 14 will be the last day of appointments until January 9th. If you want an appointment before the holidays, you can sign up 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 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.

Subscribe by RSS | Subscribe by Email

There Is Something Wrong With Me. Is That True?

Do you remember high school?

Someone gives you the look. Or slightly rolls their eyes. Or walks by without saying hi.

And suddenly, you see yourself as a pariah. You think you are nothing. Scum of the earth. Wounded, you hang your head, and crawl back inside your little cave.

Life can be hell in high school.

But For Most Of Us, Unfortunately, High School Never Ended

We think we moved on, but in reality we’re often just as miserable today. Because somewhere down inside we still believe those thoughts we had in high school. We believe there’s something wrong with us.

This Belief Is Crippling

It affects our relationships, our work, our confidence, our ability to get along in many many ways. Sure, we learn to rise above this belief in some areas of our lives, but in other areas, we’re still just as stuck.

Until we question the beliefs we picked up in high school, or even earlier, they hang around and influence us in every way.

That’s Why I Love The Work

It’s a simple way to question what you believe. If you believe the thought, "Something is wrong with me," question it. The Work of Byron Katie shows you how to question any stressful statement and turn it around. And when you do, you’re free to move on. You’re free to graduate at last.

Below, you’ll find a link to a video of a woman doing The Work with Byron Katie on this crippling belief, "Something is wrong with me." You’ll find the video on a new page of my website, just added yesterday.

This Is A New Page To Introduce You More Intimately To The Work

On this page you’ll find some of my most popular articles about The Work, several videos of Bryon Katie doing The Work with people, and a link to the official textbook of The Work, Loving What Is.

I will be adding new items to this page from time to time. And I am most especially interested in recording some new sessions to post on this page. If you have a good Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and would like to volunteer to do a session with me to share on this web page, please let me know.

Check Out The New Page

The video on "Something Is Wrong With Me" is well worth the watch. Notice at the 2:04 minute mark how this woman starts to justify her answer to "How do you react when you think that thought?"

She answers "I hide myself."

And then adds, "So the good part won’t be injured."

Watch how Katie catches this slight deviation from The Work. Instead of simply reporting how how she reacts when she thinks that thought, the woman starts to justify why she reacts that way.

As Katie points out, The Work stops working the moment you stop answering the questions.

You Can Learn A Lot By Watching Videos Of The Work

You can learn from the client’s inquiry, and its similarity to your own situation. And you can learn about how to do The Work.

Take a moment to watch the video on "Something Is Wrong With Me," and see if any of your old high school beliefs are still alive and kicking after all these years.



Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. Watch Todd’s Favorite videos of The Work in action here, or on the official website for The Work, thework.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 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.

Subscribe by RSS | Subscribe by Email

What To Do When You Get Up On The Wrong Side Of Bed?

The sound of clinking silverware in the kitchen wakes me. I know it’s six AM because my partner is always up on time. But I don’t even want to look at my watch.

Next comes the "whoompf" of the gas stove starting up. And the sound of water running in the bathroom. But I keep dozing like a lazy toad.

When I finally do pull myself out of bed a half hour later, I feel like crap. Life seems dim. And I don’t want to have much to do with it. Through no fault of mine, I got up on the wrong side of bed.

Sometimes It Happens – What Can I Do?

I don’t want to feel miserable. But I can’t help it. I do. And the funny thing is it gets worse as my morning goes along, not better. The more I think about it, the worse I feel.

Stress: for me, that’s an alarm clock to do The Work. Certainly I feel stressful. But I’ve got another problem.

I Don’t Have A Single Stressful Thought

To do The Work of Byron Katie, you need a stressful thought to write down. And I don’t have one. I just don’t feel well in general. There’s nothing specifically I can nail down. I just don’t feel like doing anything.

I’ve had enough experience in The Work to feel a little excitement though. I know when I feel crappy, I tend to get very honest and petty. And this is a great way to start The Work.

So how do I proceed?

The First Thing I Do Is To Start Writing

I’m not ready for a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet at this point. I have a journal on my computer, and I just start complaining on "paper." I have no idea what will come out. But it seems that everything I look at is crappy, so there should be a few stressful thoughts to write down.

I Simply Take Dictation From My Mind

I ask myself, "What’s bothering you?" and I start looking for the problems. I complain on paper about having to get up early, about missing my exercise this morning, and about not feeling like a million bucks when I wake up. I complain about my body, and how it didn’t cooperate with the mild detox my doctor gave me last weekend.

I write about how my partner woke me up just after I fell asleep last night, and how he inadvertently did that several other times recently. I recall what a full day I had at work yesterday, and how I wanted to relax in the evening. And I write about him asking me to book our airline tickets instead of letting me relax.

I write about my lack of time to do all the projects on my plate this week. I write and write, until I’ve got no more stressful stories left to tell.

And When I’m Done Writing, I Read Through What I’ve Written

It’s amazing how many different stressful thoughts come out when I sit to write. Even if I don’t do The Work on them, I feel better after this catharsis. But this is not just venting. What’s different about this venting session is that I have written all my venting down.

I’ve got a snapshot of my mind on paper. And this is how I can start to do The Work.

I can now look through everything that I’ve written down. And as I scan, I look for potential Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets hiding in what I’ve written. Who or what could become the subject of my next worksheet?

There Are Lots Of Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets Hiding Here

I could write a worksheet on my body, my doctor, my partner for waking me up last night, my partner for getting me to book airline tickets when I wanted to relax last night, my overcrowded schedule this month, my friends for not making any plans for Thanksgiving, my stamp collecting company for being so slow to ship my stamps, etc., etc.

I’ve got a decent list, but the job’s not done with that.

Now It’s Time To Flesh Out These Concepts On Real Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets

I like to write my Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets while they’re still hot. I may not be able to work them all right away. It might take me a month or more to work them. But I start filling out the worksheets right away while I’m still feeling the stress of them. And I add them to my ongoing list of worksheets that I want to work.

For Example, Here’s One I Wrote On My Partner Today

1. I’m angry at him because he made me book our airline tickets last night.

2. I wanted to relax and read a magazine.

3. He should notice how tired I am. He shouldn’t be so demanding. He should have let me book the tickets two weeks ago.

4. I need him to not ask me to do stuff when I’m relaxing. I need him to respect me.

5. He is demanding, insensitive, uncaring.

6. I don’t ever want him to prevent me from relaxing again.

I noticed, as I was writing it, that this Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet has more charge on it than all the other worksheets.

So I Picked This One First

Suddenly, I’ve got a focus. And I want to do The Work. But I’ve only got a short amount of time in my busy day today. So I pick just one concept from this worksheet to work on now.

I pick, "I need him to not ask me to do stuff when I’m relaxing." I use the four questions and turnarounds without sub-questions to keep it simple and quick. In ten minutes, I work through the four questions, and find three examples for each turnaround.

Already, I can see how good it is that he gives me a chance to practice standing up for myself. I see how him asking me to book the tickets now probably saved us some money.

And I see how I commanded myself to book those tickets last night when I was relaxing. I took his suggestion as a command. And I didn’t respect my own desire to relax. I pushed myself around. And that’s what made my sour mood last night and this morning too.

By Working Just One Concept I Already Gained Some Clarity

And that’s all I had time for today. But this was enough to get me back on my feet again.

I look forward to spending an hour on this worksheet at a later time. I look forward to working the other worksheets that I generated today as well.

It Turned Out To Be A Productive Morning After All

There is nothing like a getting out of bed on the wrong side to generate a ton of concepts for The Work. And when I put them all on paper, and work through them one by one, I get a real education about myself. An education that I would probably not be open to, if it came from anyone but me.

So next time I hear the "whoompf" of the gas stove starting up, and I don’t feel like getting up, I’ll smile to myself. Because I know I’m going to learn a lot that day.

Have a great week,

Want to get these articles delivered to your inbox every week? Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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.

Want to get these articles delivered to your inbox every week? Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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.

Subscribe by RSS | Subscribe by Email

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.

Subscribe by RSS | Subscribe by Email