Are Bad Clients Making You Lose Passion For Your Work?

The sweet smell of wood smoke filled the air as we sat downstairs in the kitchen by the fire. I loved to hear my grandmother’s stories about my dad when he was young. Her eyes sparkled, and she smiled as she recalled him sitting on the stairs with a baseball bat across his knees.

To this day my dad is a gentle man. He rarely raises his voice. And he can be somewhat shy. But at age 7, when my grandmother found him on the stairs, he had had quite enough that day.

Taunted by his older sister’s persistent teasing, he had locked her in her room. And he was guarding the door fiercely with his bat.

Have You Ever Thought You Could Handle Some Clients Better If You Had A Bat?

Some clients have a knack for making your life a living hell. The same ones that are so demanding are the very ones that don’t pay on time. And your worst clients are so disorganized that they have you do nothing but putting out their fires.

These clients waste your time. These clients don’t pay. These clients cause an unending stream of frustration in your life. They zap your energy. They dampen your enthusiasm and your love for what you do.

But Do You Turn Them Out?

If you’re like me, you don’t. Crazy as it seems, you keep these painful clients. Instead of being clear, instead of being direct with them, you string them along. And you divide yourself in half.

Part of you is nice, cooperative and very much amenable. The other part of you complains, both inwardly and with your friends. Internally, you resist this client like the plague. Internally, your heart sinks when they come back with something more for you to do. Yet outwardly you pretend to get along.

This Division Is Tearing You Apart

Notice the effect of this division on your life. How does it affect your health? How does it affect your work? How does it affect your happiness at home?

When I get into this mode I have trouble sleeping. I’m tense inside. And I’ve got a short fuse with my partner too. And most of all, I don’t want to go to work. I procrastinate on projects, and I live in fear of deadlines that I don’t really care about.

So why can’t I stand up for myself, and put this client out of my misery?

Because It’s Hard To Stand Up For Yourself When You’re Angry

When you’re angry, you instinctively know that you’re weak. When you’re angry, you’re focused on the other person, and all the injustices that they have done. What you’re not focused on is you.

When you’re angry you can’t see that you’re a player on the field. It’s all about them, them, them. And this leaves you feeling helpless. And if you try to stand up for yourself it comes out as an explosion.

This is a very weak way to stand up for yourself.

When you stand up for yourself out of anger, it is nearly impossible for the other party to hear your sensibility over all the rage. There is zero possibility for understanding. And the incident almost always results in ill feelings, and bitter separation.

So How Can You Stand Up For Yourself Without Anger?

To stand up for yourself without anger requires clarity of mind. It requires that you are not confused about yourself, about what you want, or about your client. To get this kind of clarity requires that you question your thoughts and beliefs about the situation.

It Requires Some Meditation

You can start by writing down exactly what makes you mad about your client. You may write, “They don’t pay me on time.”

When you question this thought, you may find that your client actually does pays you on time more often than you give them credit for. And you may find that you don’t always deliver what you promise to them on time.

This starts to undermine the anger. You start to see that, in some ways, you are just like them. And the seeds of compassion begin to sprout.

Several Months Ago I Had A Problem Client

This client is a friend. And as a friend, I got confused about how to conduct business together. His needs were seemingly endless, and the more I did, the more he wanted me to do.

This would have been a good situation for business, except that he soon ran out of money, and couldn’t pay me for my services on time. I was frustrated until I began to question what I believed about the situation.

I Questioned Thoughts Like These

I questioned my belief that, “He needs me.” And I questioned the thought that, “He wants to take advantage of me.” When I questioned these thoughts here’s what I found.

I found that, in reality, he doesn’t need me to make his business work. In fact, I quit working for him, and now more than six months later, he is doing as well as ever.

I also saw that he was not trying to take advantage of me. He was just trying to make the impossible happen in his business, and was willing to take any help that he could get. By continuing to work without pay I was simply consenting to be a volunteer.

When I Saw This, I Could No Longer See Him As The Monster

When I questioned my thoughts about him, I couldn’t stay angry at him.

And when I decided to stop working for him, I let him know in a very fair manner. And we continue to be friends today. In fact, recently I’ve done some work for him again. But this time I made sure that I get paid in advance, and everything is working fine.

This is the result of me questioning my stressful thoughts about the situation. When I did, I found the clarity of mind to come up with a solution that works for both of us.

So How Do You Question Your Thoughts?

The method that I use for questioning my stressful thoughts is called The Work of Byron Katie, or The Work for short. It is a simple process that can be done alone or with a facilitator. And this process helps cut through the false beliefs that keep you stressing out. There is a complete description of how to do The Work on my website.


Bad clients are the ones that make you dread the drive to work. They are the ones that keep you from sleeping at night. And to get them off your back you have to stand up for yourself.

However, standing up for yourself out of anger can cause more problems than it solves. When you question the stressful thoughts that are making you angry you’ll see the same situation with more clarity. And when you do, you may find ways to stand up for yourself that don’t leave you feeling like a jerk.

Next Step

To learn more about The Work, and how to do use it to question your stressful thoughts, read the article, “What Exactly Is The Work?

When you do The Work on your problem clients, you may find that the only problem is what you’re believing about them. When you question those beliefs you may come to find that you actually enjoy standing up for yourself, and they may even like it too.

And best of all, you will no longer need a baseball bat to get your point across.


Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. He has been practicing The Work on an almost daily basis for over four years, and has been facilitating The Work for others for as long. To learn more about The Work visit

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.

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

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What Exactly Is The Work Of Byron Katie?

There’s an old story that’s been around for millennia in the world of spiritual literature, especially in ancient India.  I’m retelling it now as if it happened to me here in Arizona though, in fact, this is just a story.

The bright, Arizona sunshine warmed my bones as I climbed the trail up to Cathedral Rock. It was beautiful out here, the blue sky contrasting deeply with the red rocks of Sedona. Suddenly a jolt of primal fear shot through my body. Every hair was standing on end. I jumped back, and ran back down the trail.

A rattlesnake had been sunning itself on the path, and I had come just inches from stepping on this deadly animal. My heart was pounding as I made my retreat. But something made me stop, and I went back to have a second look.

When I returned, the rattlesnake had not moved an inch. As I cautiously approached it for a second time, I could make out the fibers of an old decaying rope.

I Had Scared Myself For Nothing

It doesn’t take much to get the mind worked up. A little rope lying on the path is all it takes, and the mind can weave a terrifying story out of it.

It’s amazing really. A little thing is all it takes. One disapproving comment, for example, is sometimes all it takes for the mind to create a story that our lover doesn’t love us. One word of discouragement, and the mind then finds a million doubts to bog us down.

Maybe some person is a little late to pay us, and the mind invents a story of how they are cheating us out of house and home. One little cue from our environment, and the mind blows it up into a full fledged crisis.

So How Can We Stop Scaring Ourselves With Our Stories?

The secret lies in going back to take a second look. When you go back and take a second look, you start seeing evidence that blows big holes in the story that your mind created.

Taking a second look is what The Work of Byron Katie is all about. It is a systematic way to take a second look.

How Does The Work Accomplish This?

The Work is a way to first identity, and then question the thoughts that cause you stress. It is simply a set of questions that you can ask regarding any stressful thought.

Let’s look at this process in depth.

The First Step Of The Work Is To Identify A Stressful Thought

To do this, it is helpful to fill out a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet about some specific situation that got you stressed. This gets your stressful thoughts on paper.

You can download a PDF version of the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on my website. Once you have identified a stressful thought (or several of them), you ask these four questions about the stressful thought, and look for something called “turnarounds.”

Here Are The Four Questions And Turnarounds

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought.

Turnarounds: Could the opposite be as true?

Let’s look at each of these elements one by one.

1. Is It True?

This is the most important question of them all. This is the first time you’re going back to take a second look. And Byron Katie invites you to keep your answer to a simple “yes” or “no.”

“Is it true that I almost stepped on a rattlesnake?” This question asks you to go back and look. In fact, all the other questions of The Work are just elaborations of this one question, “Is it true?”

If the answer to this question is “no,” then skip to question 3.

Question 2: Can You Absolutely Know It’s True?

Again the answer is just a simple “yes” or “no.” This keeps you from going into your story once again.

It’s tempting to say, “I don’t know. It was so scary. I could see the snake’s eyes, and it looked like it was shedding its skin.” This is the mind’s story. This is what’s got you scared.

To break through the story requires a second look. The question, “Can you absolutely know it’s true?” makes you really question the validity of your story.

This brings us to the third question.

3. How Do You React When You Believe That Thought?

This is an opportunity to take a look at how the stressful concept is affecting your life. It is a time to report your reactions, not explain them. If I was doing The Work on the snake, I would be reporting that I was scared, that I ran away, that my hair stood up on end.

In this question, report your emotions. Report the physical sensations that you feel. Report the way you treat other people when you believe the thought.

The purpose of this question is to show you what happens to your life when you believe a stressful thought. The next question shows you what happens when you don’t.

4. Who Would You Be Without That Thought?

This shows the opposite point of view from question 3 above. And it’s important to understand that the question is not asking you to drop the thought. It’s just asking how would your life be different if that thought for some reason wasn’t there.

When you expand your mind a bit to consider this question, you may find that you have more peace, more balance, more love, more humor. Without the thought that there was a snake at my feet, I would have calmly stepped over it and continued hiking down the path.

These are the four questions of The Work. The last part of The Work is what Byron Katie calls the “turnarounds.”

What Are Turnarounds?

Turnarounds are a way of asking, “Could the opposite be true?” A turnaround is a statement that is the exact opposite of the original stressful concept. For example, if the original concept was, “It’s a diamondback rattlesnake,” one turnaround would be “It’s not a diamondback rattlesnake.”

For each turnaround, it’s important to give at least three genuine examples of how the turnaround is as true, if not truer, than the original concept. Here are three examples for the turnaround, “It’s not a diamondback rattlesnake.”

  1. There are frayed rope fibers on the “snake”
  2. There is a braided pattern that I’ve never seen on any snake.
  3. The snake didn’t move even when I almost stepped on it.

These examples, and you can find more if you need them, help the mind see the point of view that it had missed before. They help the mind see the reality of the situation.

If you don’t find three genuine examples, it’s like trying to convince yourself of something. The mind is already convinced otherwise. You have to find some concrete evidence to prove that it’s a rope and not a snake.

But What If I Chance Upon A Snake That’s Real?

You might be wondering if this work could be a dangerous practice. Could you end up convincing yourself to pick up a deadly snake by believing that it was just a rope instead?

The answer is no. The Work is a process of going back to take a second look. It’s not a trick of mind. It simply asks you to reexamine the thing you think is so scary to find out if it’s real.

If you go back and find that there really is a snake, then by taking a second look, you will see it even more clearly than you did before. And you’ll be that much more confident to keep your distance.

But most of the things we’re scared of in life are just figments of our imagination.

So How Does It Work In Real Life?

One of my clients had some very scary thoughts to deal with. She lost her husband and her teenage daughter. Though it had been a couple of years since their deaths when she came to me, she was still overcome by grief at times.

She chose to work the thought, “I was abandoned,” and I simply went down the list of questions. I asked her, “Is it true, that you were abandoned?” She answered, “Yes.” And then I asked her, “Can you absolutely know it’s true?” She thought about it, then said, “No.”

Then I Continued, “How Do You React When You Believe That Thought?”

She explained how she withdrew from life. How she felt sorry for herself. How she felt like a powerless victim.

And I asked, “Who would you be without that thought?” She inhaled deeply as she considered, and reported how she would be more normal, more peaceful, more carefree.

Then We Went To The Turnarounds

She found three examples of how “she was not abandoned.” She mentioned the outpouring of support from every side. How her family had gone out of its way to include her. How letters and good wishes had come from people she didn’t even know.

By doing The Work, she noticed how she had brushed these things aside before. By taking a second look and seeing them again, she started to take them in.

She reports after our work together, in her testimonial, that she is feeling much more free. That the grief is lifting now because she did The Work.


The mind loves to take things seriously. The mind takes one little thing from the environment and blows it up into a full fledged crisis.

The Work of Byron Katie is a systematic way to go back and take a second look at the thoughts that make you stressed. The first step of The Work is to identify a stressful thought, using the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, or the One-Belief-At-A-Time Worksheet.

Then you simply ask four questions, and turn the thought around, finding at least three examples of each turnaround.

Next Step

There’s no better way to understand The Work than to try it for yourself. It can be done in written form by yourself, or with a facilitator.

To get started, download a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet or One-Belief-At-A-Time Worksheet. Fill it in, and follow the instructions on the form. You’ll see first hand how The Work cuts through the illusions that are causing so much stress.

And when you see what’s really going on, you may even find yourself laughing. Just as I found myself laughing when I saw that the deadly rattlesnake was nothing but a rope.


Note: If you get stuck while you’re trying to do a worksheet, you can schedule an appointment to do The Work with me, and I’ll help you get a feeling for the process.

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.

Wouldn’t you love to get weekly articles on how to make The Work of Byron Katie your meditation practice? This may include instructive articles on how to improve your practice of The Work, stories of how The Work has helped others, and in-depth studies of how The Work can be helpful in different stressful situations.

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Why The IRS Can Never Make You Miserable

A twig snapped about ten yards away, and I froze. It was pitch black. I couldn’t see a thing, but I knew that something was watching me. I was pretty sure I could hear it breathing, and I was petrified.

Suddenly, it sprang to life. I tried to run, but couldn’t move. I tried to yell, but I was mute. It pounced, and I was jerked awake. Safe again, but drenched in sweat from head to foot, I lay there in bed trying to catch my breath.

Dealing With The IRS Can Be A Nightmare

In the United States, it’s the IRS. But every country has a version of this tax collecting agency. And it can pump the fear of life itself into your veins. How so?

One friend of mine emailed me on Monday full of stressful thoughts and beliefs about the IRS. She wrote, “I didn’t prepare for this. I’m scared. Where’s the money I supposedly made? Where will I get the money to pay this?”

I could feel the tension as I read it, partly because I’ve been in that kind of bind before myself. I’m supposed to be saving money all year to pay my taxes, but somehow it all gets spent. Come tax time, my back’s against the wall, and I am sweating. What a nightmare indeed!

How Can You Wake Up From This Nightmare?

Let’s stop a second and take a look. Who’s making you sweat so much? Is it the IRS? Or is it your story about the IRS? When you are caught up in the nightmare, you imagine the worst possible scenario. These are the images that scare you. You see yourself in jail perhaps. Or in a courtroom.

Your mind picks out scenes from old movies you’ve seen, where the FBI is going through someone’s house with a fine toothed comb. You see yourself as destitute and humiliated: the man who couldn’t pay his taxes.

Finally, you point the finger back at you, and you fill yourself with anger for not being more responsible. This is what you do to terrorize yourself. What has the IRS done? So far they don’t even know about your dilemma. So far it’s just you, caught inside a nightmare.

So How Do You Get Out?

There is a way to get out of any nightmare. You can start questioning the validity of the dream. In a dream, the crouching monster seems very real. But if you could question the validity of the dream, the monster would simply melt into the ether from which it came.

The same can be done in real life. Do you see the scary images that your mind produces about your future? The ones that show you to be an utter failure because you can’t pay your taxes? Well, those images, or more correctly, the beliefs that gave rise to those images can be questioned.

Question Everything

Begin by noticing your stressful thoughts. “I’m going to go to jail. They’re going to search my house. My reputation will go up in smoke.” Pick one and write it down. Then question that belief.

Ask yourself, “Is that really true? Are you sure? Really?” As you start to question the beliefs they lose their grip. The truth emerges, “I didn’t break the law. They won’t put me in jail.”

Why Are Questions So Powerful?

Everything that scares you about the IRS is just a thought. It’s a story you’re believing that you’re using to scare yourself to pieces. When you question these scary thoughts, you start to see the humor in them. You wake up from the nightmare and find yourself safe again at home in reality.

This process of questioning your stressful thoughts is called The Work of Byron Katie. In fact, it’s nothing new. Throughout the centuries, great teachers like Socrates and Buddha and Confucius and Shankar encouraged their students to question what they took for granted.

When you question what you are taking for granted in any stressful situation, you start to see the world in a different light. Instead of being scary, the universe becomes more friendly. And all that’s changed is that you’ve stopped believing the scary thoughts inside your head.

But Questioning My Thoughts Won’t Make The Tax Man Go Away

This is true. But you can make yourself miserable about it, or you can be happy as the process unfolds. The option to be happy becomes available once you question the scary thoughts you have about the situation.

When you do The Work of Byron Katie on your beliefs about the IRS, you may start to see that your reputation is not at stake, the way you thought. You may find that the IRS has options for making payments over time. You may start to see the good of such a crisis, because it will help you to stay on track in future years.

When you question your stressful thoughts, you start to realize that nothing horrible is going to happen. Certainly, the tax man won’t go away, but if your mind is clear, you can meet him at the door and invite him in.

How Do I Know This Works?

A year and a half ago, I could barely pay the rent. My problem wasn’t taxes, I was earning too little to live on. I was desperate. Then I did The Work with Byron Katie. Not by myself, but on stage in front of 300 people.

I questioned the thought, “I need to pay the rent,” When I questioned this thought I didn’t panic like I had before. Instead, I found that I would still be okay if I didn’t pay the rent. I also found that I could find paying work anywhere. As long as I was open to the possibility.

The process of questioning my thoughts changed my thinking. I soon changed jobs for one that wasn’t such a struggle financially. It was that simple. I questioned my thoughts. And options start popping up left and right.

To Summarize

The IRS can never be your problem. Your stressful thinking about the IRS–that’s what’s got you caught inside a nightmare. When you question the thoughts that scare you, you may find that the assumptions on which you based your fears are simply not true.

The Work of Byron Katie (The Work for short) is a systematic way to question stressful thoughts. It is a series of four questions and “turnarounds” that you can apply to any stressful belief. Here’s how to do it.

Next Step

If your taxes have you feeling stressed this year, take a moment to identify one stressful thought that you’re believing. Ask yourself, “What do you fear is going to happen?” Identify one stressful concept and write it down.

Then download the One-Belief-At-A-Time Worksheet and follow the instructions. If you answer the questions with integrity, you can pierce through all the fear, and find your freedom.

So next time you freeze in fear at the snapping of a twig, notice what it’s like to be inside a dream. When you question your stressful thoughts about the IRS, you may find that your life is not as scary as it seems.


Note: If you want to do The Work with me, I now have online scheduling on my website. It’s now easy to schedule a time to work with me right from my website. Doing The Work with an experienced facilitator can really accelerate the nightmare wake-up process.

Also: If you are interested in seeing my session with Byron Katie, the YouTube video is on my About page.

Sharing 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.
The only exception is Twitter.

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

Todd Smith writes weekly articles on how to make The Work of Byron Katie your meditation practice. These may include instructive articles on how to improve your practice of The Work, stories of how The Work has helped others, and in-depth studies of how The Work can be helpful in different stressful situations.

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Ironic, but one of the most intimate acts
of our body is

So beautiful appeared my own death – knowing who then I would kiss,
I died a thousand times before I died.

“Die before you die,” said the Prophet

Have wings that feared ever
touched the Sun?

I was born when all I once
feared – I could

Rabia of Basra (717-801), female Islamic Saint

The Work As Meditation

This blog is about The Work of Byron Katie as a form of meditation.   Byron Katie’s simple technique of questioning what we assume to be true, called “The Work,” can open your awareness to peace and freedom.

All you need is enough quietness to identify your stressful thoughts, and enough courage to answer the questions honestly.

For more information, you can also go to Byron Katie’s main site:

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