Category Archives for Beating Yourself Up

The Freedom in Owning Your Part

oil tanker

It’s easy to blame others for environmental issues for example, but if I can find my own contributions to this problem, there is no need for anger or attack. My heart opens to a more humble, peaceful, and effective way forward when I’m owning my part.

Not Owning My Part Is Stressful

This came up so elegantly in last week’s Open Session. The person doing The Work made it clear for all of us that owning her part led to peace. She saw herself being punished for an innocent action that she had done earlier, and her mind cried out “Not fair!”

The mind not only attacked those accusing her, but also those who advised her to do the action in the first place. And in the same stroke the mind also attacked her for doing it, thinking “I should have known better.”

In All this Attack there Was No Peace

By going through the four questions and turnarounds of The Work, she saw clearly how her mind got wrapped up in everyone else’s business when she was not owning her part. And as soon as she did own her part, she experienced peace.

This is how The Work works. I start by blaming others, or myself, and end up finding that there is no one to blame.

Whatever happened simply happened. That’s all. That’s where my mind can rest.

Owning It Is Different than Beating Myself Up

Owning my part means accepting responsibility for my actions. But it also requires that I don’t attack myself for what I did. Self-attack is not the same as owning it. One is violent, the other is peaceful.

When I attack myself, I get to look like I’m owning it but I’m really still not owning it. I’m just blaming myself and staying separate from myself in the process. True ownership happens when I fully join myself and embrace both the fact that I did it and the fact that there was a certain innocence in my doing it.

When I can hold both my “guilt” and my “innocence,” then I am truly owning my part. And my heart can relax. I have nothing to hide, even from myself. And all attacking stops. There is no need to attack others or myself when I’m able to see it this way.

Join us for an Open Session

Every week, we get together on video conference to do The Work and consider questions about The Work. During these half-hour, free sessions, I am available to facilitate anyone who shows up. I’d love to have you join us some time.

Also, if you can’t make the time of a meeting, you can still sign up for that meeting in advance and you’ll get the audio recording emailed to you afterwards.

Learn more about Open Sessions here.

Have a great week,

“Do The Work until you see your part in it.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Why Do We Feel Guilt?

house on the hill

I stayed in this house one night, and promised the owners some photos that I never delivered.

Do You Ever Feel Guilty?

It comes up from time to time for me, and it often brings me back to doing The Work.

But how do you do The Work with guilt? It’s kind of a strange emotion. It’s not like anger, where it’s usually easy to find the stressful thoughts to question. Guilt is a bit more covert.

Here’s What I Notice About Guilt

Underlying my feeling of guilt is often the belief that I need or want someone’s approval.

Not getting their approval can lead to guilt or anger. I feel anger if I’m not getting their approval because of something they are doing. For example, if they are not being fair, or they are being “impossible” to please.

But I feel guilty when I think it’s something I’m doing that is preventing me from getting their approval. For example, if I’m not doing something that they want me to do.

Instead of owning, “I don’t really want to do it,” I opt for guilt. Feeling guilty is a way of holding onto both of my conflicting desires: the desire for their approval, and the desire to stay in my integrity.

By feeling guilty, I don’t have to choose.

Guilt Shows Me My Desire for Approval

And not just my desire for approval, but often a desire for approval that goes against my integrity.

For example, I took the photo above of the little house on the hill covered with flowers back in 2009. I was photographing the balsamroot flowers that spring in Washington State. While wandering the hills, I came across this house and asked for permission to park there and to photograph on their property.

They were very generous and allowed me. And they invited me to stay overnight so that I could get up early the next morning when the light was good. I was grateful, and accepted, and got some great photos the next day. On leaving, I promised them a photo.

But the Problem Was That I Offered Because I Thought I Should

My offer was not 100% sincere. Yes, I was sincerely grateful to them, but I was also in the middle of moving, starting a new job, and dealing with a lot of competition for my time. I was promising them something that I wasn’t in a position to deliver easily.

But instead of not offering it, I acted out of guilt. I did what I thought I should do. And I felt guilty. Guilty, first of all, for leaving my integrity in the first place, and then guilty for not delivering what I said I would.

Over the months and years after that—despite my guilt, or maybe because of it—I could never could bring myself to make good on my promise. To this day, I’ve never sent them a photo. Of course, I conveniently lost their name and address after some time, making it even harder.

So Here Comes The Work

Here are some thoughts I can question:

I want them to think I’m very grateful.
I want them to like my photography.
I want them to remember me glowingly.

Without these thoughts, all of which have to do with getting their approval, I could have stayed in my integrity and not offered any more than I could at the time.

But It’s Never Too Late

I plan to question those thoughts. I may also write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on them in the moment when I was promising these things.

And I may also question some other guilty beliefs that have come up since then:

I have to make good on my promise.
If I don’t deliver the photos, they will be disappointed in me.

It’s Funny, I Haven’t Even Done The Work on It Yet

But I’m already feeling lighter.

If I question some of these thoughts related to the guilt, who knows what I may do! I might even drive out to their place and deliver them a CD with all my photos from that shoot.

Not because I want their approval, but only if it feels like my integrity to do so. My work will help me find my truth and open the options for me to take.

Have a great weekend,

“The irony is that the struggle to win love and approval makes it very difficult to experience them. Chronic approval seekers don’t realize that they are loved and supported not because of but despite their efforts. And the more strenuously they seek, the less likely they are to notice.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?

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Is There Any Shame in Losing Money?

grape leaves blowing in the wind

Sometimes money is simply gone with the wind.

I Lost a Lot of Money Last Week

Well actually, it took me about seven years to lose all that money, but I got confirmation last week.

After my mom died in 2010, I received a life insurance payment. It was the last gift my mom gave me. But I didn’t know what to do with it. I was like a child being given a car with no clue how to drive. My feet couldn’t even reach the pedals.

But like any child, I tried to drive it anyway. I put it in the stock market for a few months and watched it double and then go back down. I sold when it was the same amount as what I put in. And I thought, “I don’t like the stock market. I can’t predict it.”

I Was Looking for Something More Stable

I wanted something with a small steady growth. And lo and behold someone called me offering just that. Ten or fifteen percent growth per year sounded good to me. I believed it. And in this case, I literally bought it. Funny how “believe” and “buy” are the same!

I “invested” in a bunch of rare stamps. But what I found out slowly over time, and got confirmed last week, is that I was dealing with telemarketers, not actual stamp dealers. They basically sold me a “bill of goods”—stamps that were priced way above market value. So the bottom line for me is probably going to be less than 10% of what I started with.

The First Thought Is “I Was a Fool”

Granted, the money has been gone for years now, and I’ve had my suspicions for a long time too. So it wasn’t a big shock for me last week when I got the confirmation. It almost wasn’t stressful.

But nonetheless the stressful thoughts did start to surface:

I was a fool (or more directly, “I am a fool”).
I am naïve.
My mom would be disappointed in me.
I lost her money.
She worked hard for that money.
I don’t belong in the real world.
I made a big mistake.

The Thoughts Came Up Quietly at First

But I believed them enough to make my body tense, and to make my mood a bit more solemn. It felt like an undercurrent of shame.

I’m just starting to work these thoughts now in Inquiry Circle. I’m taking the time to hold each one, and let it be fully heard, and felt, and questioned. And as I do, the undercurrent of tension and shame is lifting.

In addition to questioning the list of stressful thoughts above, I will probably write some Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets on those whom I think would be disappointed in me if they knew.

So, Is It Shameful to Lose Money?

What I’m seeing is that it’s only shameful when I believe it is. The world may think it’s shameful, terrible, pitiable. But it’s up to me whether I believe it or not. It’s up to me whether I drag myself down with it or not.

What I’m finding is I just took a very expensive training program in how not to invest money. I have experience now that may serve me again someday when I have money to invest.

I was like a child, trusting a telemarketer. You might say I was a fool. And I’d agree with you. But I don’t mind being what I am. It was simply my path this time. I didn’t have enough awareness to do it another way.

This also gives me a lot more understanding for my grandmother who lost money in a scam at the end of her life.

It Is a Part of Growing Up for Me

Now I see the part of me that, like my grandmother, wanted someone else to invest my money for me. I see how easily I shirked responsibility.

That is a precious lesson for me. I gave my money to the sharks and the sharks did what sharks always do. I just never looked closely enough to see their dorsal fins.

Now, I understand the importance of due diligence. The importance of getting three quotes. The importance of diversification. The importance of educating myself about how to invest. If this loss is what it took for me to see that, it’s not a bad thing at all.

That Was The First Stage of My Education

I had to see the value of scrutiny and research in this area of life. The area of finances is an area I’ve pushed away and wanted not to look at for most of my life. This was a wake up call for me to step more fully into adulthood in the world of money.

I’m open to learning more now. I’m open to reading books, and educating myself on how to invest. Why not learn now how to tell the difference between a genuine investment a scam? Why not study the various ways to invest?

I was so focused on not being attached to money that I forgot the counterbalance, which is learning the skills of dealing with money. Both sides are important. Like any turnaround, one side without the other is not balance.

I was asleep, and now I’m waking up.

I Leave You With One Last Turnaround for Balance

I didn’t throw all of my money away. I used part of the money my mom gave me to get my training as a certified facilitator of The Work. That turned out to be the best investment I ever made.

Without that money, I would not be where I am today. Thank you, Mom.

Have a great week,

“How do I know I don’t need the money? It’s gone! I’ve been spared: what I would have done with that money would obviously have been much less useful for me than losing it.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

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How to Work with Self-Attack Thoughts


Look at how pathetic I am! I’m a fallen, helpless leaf blowing in the the wind.

Self-Attack Thoughts Can Be Questioned Too

Most of the time I use Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets when doing The Work. I write my worksheets on other people, or things, that trigger me. The reason I do that is that I love to use other people as mirrors to see myself.

But sometimes I question my self-attack statements directly. When I do, I usually don’t write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. Instead, I write down my self-judgment on a One-Belief-at-a-Time Worksheet and question it by itself.

Self-Judgments Are a Little Different

They don’t have all of the usual turnarounds (to the self, to the other, to the opposite). Usually, just the turnaround to the opposite makes sense for self-judgments.

For example, someone recently asked me about working the concept, “I’m overweight.” She said that she didn’t get very far when she tried to turn it around to herself. That’s because there isn’t usually a turnaround to the self for a self-judgment.

And there usually isn’t a turnaround to the other either. The main turnaround is to the opposite which, in this case, would be “I am not overweight.”

There could also be a few other unusual turnarounds such as the yahoo turnaround, “I’m overweight! Yay! How is that a good thing?” Or turnarounds like, “Others are overweight,” or “My thinking is overweight.”

As you Can See, Self-Judgments Don’t Have Many Standard Turnarounds

But that doesn’t mean they can’t be worked.

The biggest challenge when working self-judgments is that the mind may try to use The Work to get out of self-responsibility.

For example, the turnaround, “I am not overweight,” could be a great way to gain some perspective and balance on the idea that I am overweight. The turnaround points to the fact that I’m not that overweight so there is no need to attack myself about it. But the same turnaround could also be used by the mind as justification for not taking care of myself or possibly losing some weight.

The way around this is to notice if a turnaround is bringing me closer to self-responsibility and balance or not. If not, then it’s not really The Work that I’m doing.

There’s Another Way to Work with Self-Attack Thoughts

This is as valuable as, and often more powerful than, questioning the self-attack thought itself.

Usually a self-attack thought of any kind is how I react to some other stressful thought or situation. In other words, the self-attack thought is secondary.

The primary cause of stress was some outside trigger. I locate that trigger by asking myself, “When did the self-attack thoughts begin?”

Maybe it Was Earlier Today, or Last Month, or Years Ago

If I stop and consider, I can often find that I started using this particular self-attack thought at some particular point. And usually it was somebody else that triggered me. Now I can write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on that person and deal with the original cause of my stress.

For example, I had a client who was trying to question his suicidal thoughts. But when he asked himself, “When did the suicidal thoughts begin?” he found that it was something specific that his father had said at Thanksgiving that triggered him.

So he moved into writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on his father from that situation.

Both Ways Are Helpful

Questioning the actual self-attack thoughts themselves is good. And looking for where the self-attack thoughts started in order to write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on what triggered the self-attack in the first place is also good.

I encourage you to do The Work from both directions and see what each one reveals for you.

Have a great weekend,

“The four questions are used in exactly the same way when you apply them to self-judgments.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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Humility is beautiful because it keeps things real.

Humility Lies at the Core of The Work

Without humility, The Work doesn’t touch the soul. Without humility, The Work is powerless. It is only when I do The Work with humility that it transforms my life.

What Is Humility?

Humility, when doing The Work of Byron Katie, is being open to being wrong. If you’re not open to being wrong, how can you be objective in your inquiry?

Of course, just because you do inquiry doesn’t mean that you are wrong, but to do inquiry fairly, you have to at least be open to that possibility.

The first question, “Is it true?” is a direct challenge to any established belief. It is asking, “Could I be wrong? Is there something else going on here?”

If I am closed to this question, I miss the opportunity to find the real truth—the truth that could set me free.

Defense and Justification Are the Opposite of Humility

Humility is openness. Defense is closed. Defense is a stance that says, “I am right, and I’m willing to defend my position.”

Defense shows up in doing The Work in many places: by not being willing to do The Work in the first place on an area where I want to stay right, by answering the questions with “Yeah, but…,” by justification, explaining why I’m right, by diversion tactics, and by blaming.

The Work stops working the moment I step into justification and defense. I’ve lost humility and openness. And The Work also stops working the moment I step into self-attack.

Self-Attack Is an Opposite of Humility Too

This one sounds strange at first. Wouldn’t self-attack be a kind of humility? After all, I’m putting myself down.

But when you look closely, it’s easy to see that self-attack is the very opposite of humility. Real humility would be taking in the truth and letting it kill me quietly.

But instead, self-attack makes a show of remorse and self-flagellation in the hopes of somehow preventing the truth from getting close enough to really kill the ego. It is a fake. A poor substitute for humility. And the ego stays intact. There is no humility in self-attack.

Peace Comes from Owning the Truth

The four questions and the turnarounds are helpful in finding the truth. But it is always up to me whether I own it or not.

The more I am able to own my part—the more I am able to own the very truths that I’m trying to avoid without beating myself up—the more peace can get a hold of me. And when it does, there’s no going back. The ego dies, and so does the suffering.

It Takes Courage to be Humble

It takes courage to even allow yourself to write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on something that is stressful. Because you know you’ll be questioning everything. And only the truth will survive the intense light of inquiry.

But if your interest is freedom and peace, then this is exciting. Because humility brings the end of pretense and the beginning of genuine peace of mind.

Have a great weekend,

“Humility is what happens when you’re caught and exposed to yourself, and you realize that you’re no one and you’ve been trying to be someone. You just die and die into the truth of that. You die into what you have done and who you have been, and it’s a very sweet thing; there’s no guilt or shame in it. You become totally vulnerable, like a little child. Defense and justification keep falling away, and you die into the brilliance of what is real.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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When a Turnaround to the Self Feels Like Self-Attack


Beauty lies in balance. If one of these petals were missing it would not be so beautiful.

Sometimes the Mind Misses the Point of Finding Balance

When doing a turnaround, it’s easy to flip from attacking “them” to attacking me. This is not the purpose of turnarounds. But sometimes it’s hard to avoid. The mind has a habit of self-attacking.

The key is to keep noticing. If the turnaround is starting to bring me additional stress, then I know I’ve taken it the wrong way, or taken it too far, or have tripped across an underlying belief that needs questioning.

The Purpose of Turnarounds Is to Balance The Original Thought – Kind of Like Neutralizing It

The experience is a feeling of peace when I hold the original thought and the turnaround together. I think of it like a balance scale. When I put an equal weight on both sides, it floats.

But if I take a turnaround too far, it causes imbalance in the opposite direction. My emotions tell me if I do this. And if I notice it, then I back off of the turnaround a bit.

Sometimes a Turnaround May Require a Loose Hold

If I am believing the original thought, “They’ll think I’m pathetic if I don’t get this job,” I’m making my happiness dependent on them, and I feel the stress of doing that. It’s stressful to believe I’m at someone else’s mercy. I’m powerless to control them. So I feel fear.

When I get to the turnaround to the self, “I’ll think I’m pathetic if I don’t get this job,” at first it seems like an invitation for self-attack.

If I hold this turnaround too tightly, it feels like additional stress. But if I hold the turnaround lightly, I can see that the main point of this turnaround is actually showing me a way out of the stress. It’s pointing to the fact that I am more in control of my stress than I think. My stress is not coming from them, it is coming from my thinking, which is an area I can work with. This is good news.

So The Next Step Is to Look at My Thinking

What am I thinking or believing that is making this turnaround so stressful for me? I’m believing that “I am pathetic if I don’t get this job.”

So I question that. That’s an underlying belief that is holding all this up.

In this case, the turnaround points to a deeper belief to question. The main issue is not that they, or I, will think I’m pathetic if I don’t get this job. It’s that I believe that I am pathetic if I don’t get this job.

So I question the core issue: “I am pathetic if I don’t get this job, is it true?” and see where it goes. Always using my feelings to let me know if I’m moving towards peace or more deeply into stress with each turnaround. Peace is the only aim of The Work.

Have a great weekend,

“When practiced for a while, inquiry takes on its own life within you. It appears whenever thoughts appear, as their balance and mate.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week, plus my checklist for the Judge-Your-Neighbor-Worksheet. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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The Number One Reason Why People Have Trouble With Question Four

Chevy truck

You can’t go from rust-bucket-junkyard truck to fully restored truck in one jump.

Question 4 Is Just a Small Step of Inquiry

Question 4 of The Work of Byron Katie is, “Who would you be without that thought?” It’s a simple question, but people sometimes make it difficult.

I was talking with a friend recently about question 4. She was working a worksheet about a stressful situation with her boyfriend. They were in public, and he was wandering aimlessly, which was slightly embarrassing to her. So she was questioning the thought, “He is wandering aimlessly.”

She had no problem answering questions 1-3. But when she got to question 4, she got frustrated. She couldn’t “just be without that thought.”

The Problem Comes From Expecting Yourself to Be Without The Thought

That’s kind of like saying, “Drop it!” Or, “Stop it!” I have no idea how to do that. I would if I could. Very frustrating.

But that is not what question 4 is asking. Question 4 is asking, “Who would you be without that thought?” The real you doesn’t have to drop anything. This is not about changing your mind. Or forcing you to stop believing a thought.

Question 4 is just a thought experiment. It’s like kids playing “make believe.”

It Goes Like This

“Who would you be without that thought?”

Translation: “Okay, let’s make believe you’re in that situation all over again. You see him walking around in the same exact way as before. Let’s pretend you don’t have the thought, ‘He’s walking around aimlessly.’ What would that be like? Who would you be watching him without that idea?”

This is purely hypothetical. We’re pretending. This has nothing to do with the real you at this moment. You are not being asked to jump from being attached to the thought to giving it up. Not at all. You’re not being asked to drop anything.

We’re just experimenting in order to see what is the effect of this thought on your experience. We want to know if there’s any difference without it. That’s all. We’re just gathering data.

The Problem Comes When You Put The Cart Before the Horse

Maybe you’ve done The Work in the past and found that you were able to let go of some stressful thoughts. And you remember how peaceful it was to let go of them.

And now that you’re doing The Work again, you want that peaceful feeling again. So you push it. You’re trying to create peace by forcing yourself to let go of the thought in question 4.

But you’re actually not doing The Work. You’re trying to jump to peace. This is the old way. This is like jumping to the turnarounds without doing the four questions. It’s too big of a leap.

But What About When Katie Says, “Drop the Probably”

Katie often says, “Drop the probably,” to clients answering question 4. For example, someone might answer to question 4, “I would probably be more peaceful.” When Katie says, “Drop the probably,” does that mean that pretending is not allowed? Is Katie saying, don’t be hypothetical in question 4?

No, Katie just wants her client to get as close to the experience as possible. It’s still a pretend situation. They’re pretending that the client is back in that situation again without the thought. It’s still purely hypothetical.

But Katie’s just saying, “Now that you’re in that pretend world, be there fully! Experience it fully! What is it like to walk around in that situation without the thought?”

Question 4 Is Easy Because It’s Easy to Pretend

The only reason it appears to be difficult is when you forget that it’s just a thought experiment. When you think the question means you have to “be there already,” that’s when the internal resistance starts.

The Work is not about taking away my beliefs. It’s about questioning them.

Have a great weekend,

“Question 4: Who would you be without the thought? This is a very powerful question. Picture yourself standing in the presence of the person you have written about when they aren’t doing what you think they should be doing, or when they’re doing what you think they shouldn’t be doing. Now, just for a minute or two, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine who you would be if you couldn’t think this thought. How would your life be different in the same situation without this thought? Keep your eyes closed and watch them without your story. What do you see? How do you feel about them without the story? Which do you prefer—with or without your story? Which feels kinder? Which feels more peaceful?” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week, plus my checklist for the Judge-Your-Neighbor-Worksheet. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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How to Find Self-Compassion

baby's breath

This flower may be thinking, “I’m too small, too plain. I’m not good enough.” There is no compassion in self-attack.

Self-Compassion Comes From Seeing a Bigger Perspective

I can’t have self-compassion when my thinking is small. If I’m attached to getting what I want, my mind is riveted to one small outcome. And if I don’t get it, I’m upset.

How do I react? I attack anyone and anything that is getting in the way. Including myself. Self-compassion is not possible when I’m attacking myself.

So how do you find self-compassion when you’re in the middle of self-attack?

Self-Compassion Starts By Listening

For me, that means writing down all my stressful thoughts. Getting them out onto paper. I feel safe to rant and rave onto paper. It’s not going to hurt anyone. And it gets it off my chest.

I feel listened to when I do this. Like it’s OK to have all these thoughts. “Let’s get them down. I want to consider each one of them.” This is the beginning of self-compassion.

But that’s just the first stage. Getting those thoughts out is not enough for me. I like to really inquire into the truth of each thing I wrote. I like to take self-compassion to the next level.

I Use The Four Questions and Turnarounds of The Work of Byron Katie for This

I love this simple system of self-inquiry. First I identify a stressful thought like, “I made a mistake.” Then, I question it using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

For example, I felt that I made a mistake while facilitating a client the other day. I started leading my client during inquiry and I felt ashamed for doing it. I judged myself harshly.

So I can question, “I made a mistake,” with the four questions and turnarounds of The Work as follows.

I made a mistake.

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
I feel ashamed and embarrassed. My skin gets hot. I try to push the thought away. I justify that what I did was okay. I feel defensive. I lose confidence. I think less of myself. I want to hide.

4. Who would you be without that thought?
I would not feel stressed at all. No self-attack. I notice where I was leading my client and I adjust for next time. I’m looking forward to next time to try it again.

Turnaround: “I didn’t make a mistake.” Could that be as true, or truer?
1. Yes, it is true. I didn’t make a mistake. I just became aware of something that didn’t work for me about my facilitation. That is actually very helpful for me to keep improving my game.
2. Also, I didn’t set out to mess it up. It just happened. Even though I’m still responsible for what I did, I can find an innocence there as well. Considering what I was thinking and believing at the time, I had no choice but to “fumble” in this way. I believed she needed my help. Believing that, I had to lead her.

And that leads me to more inquiry.

The Root of My Mistake Was Also A Belief

So instead of stopping with my inquiry on “I made a mistake,” I can take it further. I can question, “She needed my help.” Because that’s what I was believing that caused me to start leading her and putting words in her mouth in the first place.

So I repeat the same process again.

She needs my help.

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
I step in. I interrupt her process. I put words in her mouth. I don’t listen as closely to what she is saying. I look slightly down on her. I lead her away from her own inquiry. I start taking over. And then I attack myself for doing all this.

4. Who would you be without that thought?
I would give her more space. I would truly listen. It feels like respect inside me for her. My heart feels open. I’m curious what she will find.

Turnaround: I need my help.
1. Yes, I need my help staying in my own business, while holding the space for my client. If all my attention was on that, I could serve her better while she does her work.

Turnaround: I need her help.
1. I often am surprised at the wisdom that comes from my clients’ mouths. The more I simply hold the space, the more I get to learn from my clients.
2. And, yes, I need her help. She has to find her own answers. I can’t do her work for her. Because my answers are not going to touch her in the same way as what she discovers herself.

Turnaround: She doesn’t need my help.
1. Her answers are the ones that will help her the most.
2. She hasn’t asked me for my help yet. I just butted in.
3. Her long silences are as much a part of this process of inquiry as anything she says. In fact, my interruptions are disturbing this process of self-inquiry for her.
4. It’s not the end of the world even if she doesn’t find any satisfying answers. She doesn’t need my help.
5. My helping her could end up making her dependent on me. The opposite of what true self-inquiry accomplishes.

What Happens When I Go Through This Process?

As I go through this, what I notice is an expansion of my heart. I’m no longer blaming myself for making a mistake. Instead, I am owning what I did fully. And I’m now seeing more clearly my new direction: the value of not helping her, but rather holding the space for her to help herself.

This feels like the dawning of self-compassion. First of all, I listened to myself and wrote down my stressful thoughts. Then I questioned my self-attacking thought and found my innocence. And finally, I questioned the limiting belief that caused the “mistake” in the first place. In fact, there may be other limiting beliefs I could question: “I want her to have a good experience with me. I want her to like me as a facilitator.” Each of these could be questioned in the same way.

This kind of questioning leads to expansion of consciousness, in my experience. And as my perspective expands, I move from self-attack to self-compassion spontaneously. That’s why I love The Work of Byron Katie.

If you want to learn more about The Work and try it yourself, you might enjoy my three-week online course called The Work 101.

Have a great week,

“When the mind has seen that it doesn’t know what it was so sure of, it begins to unravel, the knots relax and begin to untie themselves.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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It’s Not Okay for the Relationship To Not Be So Great, Is It True?


Relationships have cycles. Are you expecting perfection at every moment?

One of My Clients Did a Cool Piece of Work Recently

She’s been frustrated with her live-in mother for quite some time. The relationship is just not fun. As my client says, “It’s driving me bonkers!”

She hates to say it, but she feels like she actually hates her mother. She’s practically given up talking with her because every time she does there’s a fight.

“There’s a farmer’s market on Wednesday.”

“Today’s not Wednesday.”

“I know! You don’t have to explain everything!”

There is little patience on either side of the relationship. And miscommunication abounds.

So She Does The Work on Her Mother

She’s worked through several worksheets on her mother and, while she gets a few insights here and there, the stress and fighting continues.

But in trying to figure out what to work next, she discovered a deeper, underlying belief, “It’s not okay for my relationship to not be so great.”

This thought was holding so much energy for her. Because of this thought, she was trying so hard to fix the relationship.
Including trying to use The Work to fix it.

And That Pressure To Fix Things Was Interfering With Her Work

It was required, in her mind, that her relationship with her mother be perfect. Just like it was required that every other relationship, and every part of her life, be perfect.

Through inquiry, she discovered that she inherited this belief from her family when she was young, especially her mother, and it was reinforced throughout her life.

She felt that she was not allowed to feel bad. It was partly a religious thing. If she got emotional, her mother would tell her to get over it. Her family would make fun of her if she showed any negative emotions.

And if she didn’t do things perfectly, she’d be told, “You should have known better.”

The Conclusion Was You’re Supposed To Be Perfect

I know this one well because I came to the same conclusion living with my family. Positivity is great, negativity is not allowed! What a straitjacket!

Without the thought, “It’s not okay for my relationship to not be so great,” my client felt much freer.

And she found that there was no pressure to fix the relationship. She could just let it be.

For Me, This Is The Work

This is loving what is.

Not even trying to use The Work to fix the relationship. Just allowing it to have a stressful turn.

I often say that The Work is not about fixing things, but about seeing that they don’t need fixing. There’s real freedom in that.

And in that space, my client might continue writing Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets on her mother and working them. But without the pressure of fixing things by doing so.

Just working it because that’s what’s up for her.

Have a great week,

“If you do The Work with any kind of motive, even the best of motives—getting your husband back or healing your body or saving the world—it won’t be genuine, because you’ll be looking for a certain kind of answer, and you won’t allow the deeper answers to surface. Only when you don’t know what you’re looking for can you be open to the answers that will change your life.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names For Joy

If you like this article, feel free to forward the link to friends, family or colleagues. Or share the link on Facebook or other social media. If you have thoughts you’d like to share about it, please leave your comments below.

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When I’m Embarrassed About My Worksheet I Know I’ve Hit Gold

locust leaves

Sometimes seeing the truth makes you want to lie down and die.

This Is One of the Mind’s Biggest Tricks For Not Doing The Work

This is how it works. You start by following the directions for doing The Work. You identify a stressful moment, a time when you had some sort of stress reaction, even minor.

Then you start writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet about the person or thing that stressed you in that moment. And on the worksheet you start uncovering embarrassing thoughts. Thoughts you’re ashamed to admit you have.

And then the mind starts going, “Yeah, but that was just a little thing. That’s not really the way I feel.” And you miss the opportunity for inquiry. The door closes, and you move on. And once again the power of denial wins.

But The More You Do The Work, The More You Treasure These Opportunities

When a stress reaction happens to me, I know I’ve hit something real. Even if 99% of me sees the pettiness of it, and doesn’t buy in, 1% of me did buy in. That’s why I had the stress reaction.

The Work is for the 1% that’s left. And the mind will try use the 99% to deny the fact that 1% still sits there. But stress doesn’t lie. That’s why I trust it.

If I get triggered, no matter how small it is, no matter how embarrassing it is to admit that I still think that way, I stop and do inquiry. Otherwise, it just sits there, ready to trip me up again. Through inquiry, I deal with it so that I can be 100% free, not just 99%.

You’ve Got To Suck In Your Pride To Do This Work

I recently had an email exchange with someone that I don’t know that well. I gave her some feedback on something she had written. And she appreciated it and asked me to explain my thinking.

Well, that’s always dangerous with me. I went deep and, in addition to giving practical explanations for my feedback, I also tripped over some egotistical reasons why I had given that feedback. So I shared that too.

I was jealous of her, and was looking for an opportunity to cut her down. And I discovered that it was not the first time I had picked on her in my mind.

Now Granted, This Was Pretty Minor Stuff

Like I said, I hardly knew her. And a little jealousy (probably only a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10) doesn’t make much difference in my life, or in our infrequent interactions.

My mind could easily say, “Don’t bother.” And I almost let it slide. But I’m in the habit of writing worksheets, so I wrote one. It turned out to be one of my most potent worksheets of the year.

And the result is that an invisible space between me and this person I hardly know closed. I now see myself as on the same team as her. Jealousy gone. And the potential, if I ever choose to pursue it, to have a good relationship with her.

All That From Paying Attention To My Subtle Trigger

And from not stopping when I saw it was getting embarrassing. The more I do The Work, the more I tend to dive faster into inquiry when it gets embarrassing.

That’s when I know I’ve hit gold. Time to start digging.

Join us tomorrow for the Two-Hour Taste of The Work webinar with Tania Fierro, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific Time.

Have a great week,

“People who have been in The Work for a while get pettier and pettier on their Worksheets, as they try to find the sticking-points that are left. Beliefs just get more subtle, more invisible, as problems dissolve. They’re just the last little children calling out, “Yoo-hoo! Here I am! Come and find me!” The more you do The Work, the more uncensored you become and the pettier you like to get, because it becomes hard to find something that will upset you. Eventually, you can’t find a problem. That’s an experience I hear from thousands of people.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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