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The Work of Byron Katie Is Forgiveness

The famous prayer of St. Francis exclaims, “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”

The Work of Byron Katie Is Forgiveness

For me, The Work of Byron Katie is a way to understand this idea that in pardoning we are pardoned. Let’s start with what it feels like not to pardon, not to forgive someone. Right off the bat, I can say it hurts not to forgive someone. It may hurt the other person too, but not nearly as much as it hurts me.

The Offense Could Be Something Very Small

But it still hurts to not forgive.

For example, a vendor at our farmer’s market thought I had taken some walnut oil without paying for it. And I couldn’t forgive her for doubting me. The result was a tightness in my chest and a fearful feeling in my stomach.

My peace had been disturbed. I would even look the other way, avoiding eye contact with her, after that for some weeks.

All this was my clue that I needed to do The Work. So I wrote out my judgments about this woman on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. And when I worked it through, using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work, I found that the source of my discomfort was my inability to forgive her. My judging, condemning, and pushing away from her is what was hurting me. Not what she did to me.

That's Why Pardoning Is Freeing

Forgiving someone is a nice gift to the person you are pardoning. But it is a much nicer gift to yourself. Because, as long as you still hold onto something that someone did to hurt you, so long you feel the pain and depression.

The Work of Byron Katie is concerned with one thing, and one thing only: your internal peace. So don’t forgive someone in order to do the “right” thing. Do it simply because you prefer peace.

But Forgiving Is Not Always Easy

Sometimes people do hurtful things that seem unforgivable. And I invite you to challenge yourself to see if you can find forgiveness no matter how badly you’ve been wronged.

Your peace depends on it.

Here's How the Work Helps with Forgiveness

The Work can take you step by step toward forgiveness.

1. The Work allows the tantrum. There is real freedom in allowing yourself to vent your blame onto a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. It is the beginning of forgiveness to allow your stressful thoughts to have a voice on paper.

2. The Work then does a compare/contrast so you can experience what it feels like to believe a non-forgiving thought or to be without it. This is what questions 3 and 4 of The Work are all about. With the thought, “She wrongly accused me,” I feel stress. Without the thought, I feel normal and fine inside. Seeing this cause and effect makes it much easier to consider forgiving someone (after all it’s in my best interest emotionally).

3. The Work then helps us find our part in things. This is where the turnarounds to the self and to the other lead. For example, I found that I was impatient, and immature by leaving my money on the table when the walnut vendor had probably gone for a bathroom break. I could have given the money to a neighboring vendor if I wanted to be more responsible. When I find my part, it’s hard to stay angry at the other person.

4. Finally, The Work invites us to consider that the opposite could be just as true. For example, she didn’t accuse me. I found that she was simply inquiring and, as I looked more closely, I found that she was kind and gentle in her asking. The rest was my ego screaming.

People from The Course In Miracles often say that forgiveness is seeing that what you thought happened didn’t happen. Even the worst criminal, if you look at it objectively, was acting out of his or her best understanding of the options at the time.

Seeing Another Person's Innocence Is Forgiveness

You may have, or may have had, some tough characters in your life. The Work invites you to look more closely at these characters. Can you find their innocence?

If you can, it is a direct way to set your own heart free. I think this was the intention of St. Francis with his prayer.