Letting go is not always easy.
And these requirements are what keep us from moving on, forgiving, letting go, and finding peace again. Until these requirements are met, we are stuck, fighting with the way things are.
The Work of Byron Katie is a form of self-inquiry that helps us identify these requirements and to question them. When I do this, I often find alternatives that make my requirements irrelevant.
When my requirements fall away, I can’t help moving on, forgiving, and letting go.
This can be done free-form by writing them in a list, or by using the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.
The Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is a great way to get really close to a particular stressful moment and to collect all of the requirements you may be holding that keep you feeling stuck.
In Line 1 of the worksheet, you write the perceived offense that the other person did to you. This sets the stage for the rest of the worksheet.
In Line 2, you write how you want them to change. This is a major requirement. The mind thinks, “I’ll be happier if they change.” So write down all of those thoughts about how you want them to change.
But it’s not enough to want someone to change. It’s hopeless actually, unless I can figure out how to get them to change. That’s what Line 3 is about: how to advise them so that they really do change and move in the direction you want.
Even if they did change, and followed your advice, and started doing it the way you want, there is still a requirement that has not yet been met. And it is needed in order to fully let go and move on. This is why there is another line on the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.
Line 4 addresses the wound that the other person caused. I need them to fully own what they did to me, to share what was going on for them as a human being, and to make amends.
This is the missing piece, the final requirement that I need, to fully forgive them. Until this requirement is met, I’m still holding on—even if they do change otherwise.
That’s the beauty of The Work of Byron Katie. When you have systematically identified all of the requirements you need in a situation, your work is well begun, but it’s only half done. Now, you can question each requirement you wrote on the worksheet using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.
What I find when I do this is that the requirements I had for the other person are really just requirements for me. My advice to them becomes the perfect advice for me. And what I need them to do so I can forgive them becomes what I need to do so I can forgive myself and them.
The Work takes the dependence I have on them away. I no longer need them to change. I no longer need them to meet my requirements. I simply take my own advice, and meet myself the way I wanted them to meet me. My requirements get filled by me instead of them.
I’ve witnessed deep-rooted beliefs fall away. I’ve watched feuds evaporate. I’ve experienced relationships change. And just from filling in this simple worksheet and questioning the requirements that show up on it.
If you want to get deep practice working in this way, I invite you to join us for The Work 101, my eight-week online course in The Work of Byron Katie.
Have a great week,
“You don’t need to let go or understand or forgive. Forgiveness is realizing that what you thought happened didn’t. You realize that there was never anything to forgive, and that’s what The Work makes evident. It has all just been a misunderstanding within you. When you can see that, someone else has to say, “Oh, you’re so forgiving,” because you wouldn’t have a clue yourself. That’s true forgiveness.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy
Every year, I like to take a look at my address book and mine it for stressful situations for doing The Work.
The idea is very simple. Just pick up your physical address book, if you have one. Or open up your electronic address book on your computer, phone, or tablet. You can also use Facebook, or any other system you use for listing your contacts.
Take your time as you read through the names one by one in your list. And start paying attention to your subtle emotions. As you see a name, do you notice any subtle discomfort?
Do you want to squirm away from that name on the list? Do you notice a slight feeling of anger or sadness coming up?
This is the clue that there are some unquestioned stressful thoughts hiding there.
Find a name that makes you feel uncomfortable, or stressful in any way, and instead of turning away from it, go into it. Sit for a minute and let the memories start flooding in.
Where is the stress coming from with this person?
Maybe they did something mean. Maybe it’s just one incident, or maybe there are many incidents that come to mind. If there are many, focus in on just one of them—the main one you have not forgiven them for—and write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on that particular incident that you remember. And then question each statement on the worksheet.
And for me, forgiveness doesn’t come until I’ve thoroughly questioned all of my stressful thoughts on the incident that I’m holding.
These old situations hiding in my address book are pieces of myself. There is no need to work them all. There are too many, in fact, for that. But I can take just one of these old situations and make peace with it.
Working just one thing deeply is a way of working them all.
Happy New Year!
“I encourage you to write about someone—parent, lover, enemy—whom you haven’t yet totally forgiven. This is the most powerful place to begin. Even if you’ve forgiven that person 99 percent, you aren’t free until your forgiveness is complete. The 1 percent you haven’t forgiven them is the very place where you’re stuck in all your other relationships (including the relationship with yourself).” Byron Katie, Loving What Is
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.
Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week. Subscribe to the newsletter here.