Category Archives for Letting Go

How to Let Go of Jealousy

Jealousy comes from wanting something you think someone else has and you don’t.

Jealousy Is a Stressful Experience

Jealousy is the opposite of contentment. And it is very personal. Not only do I want what the other person has, but the fact that I don’t have it means that I’m a lesser person. Jealousy is really a kind of self-attack. 

And it is also blind to what I do have. It’s obsessive. Only what the other person has will do. Only when I get it will I be happy.

This Happens a lot in Relationships

If I want my partner’s love and attention, and he gives it to someone else, I may feel jealous. I don’t want the other person to have it. I want it all for myself. This is very stressful because, even though I know I shouldn’t feel jealous, I still do. It comes up like an obsession and takes over.

The same is true of jealousy of position, name and fame, money, status in society, etc. It’s easy to understand that jealousy is a destructive emotion, but like a drug addiction, it’s not always easy to quit.

In Fact, I Would Argue that you Can’t Let Go of Jealousy

Just like you can’t just “be peaceful.”

The mind doesn’t work that way. The mind is jealous because on a gut level I’m confused (even if I understand how destructive jealousy is). Until that confusion is first of all heard and listened to, and then patiently examined objectively, it will continue in the face of any attempt to stop it.

Letting go of jealousy is not something you do. It is something that happens when you hold your jealousy tenderly in your arms and listen to it with understanding and compassion. You must converse with your jealousy, listen to its arguments, and invite it to consider different points of view. 

I like to treat my jealousy with respect, and support it to find a way to see through its own stories. Only jealousy can undo jealousy. All I can do is invite it to look again. If jealousy sees the light itself, then it lets go of me. I can never use force in this process.

The Work of Byron Katie Can Help

The Work of Byron Katie (The Work) is a simple form of inquiry that is a perfect match for jealousy. It consists of allowing the jealous mind to write down the jealous thoughts and let them be heard without judgment. This is such an important step: to allow the stuck mind to just be heard and understood.

And then The Work presents some simple, experiential questions to the jealous mind. The Work is a way for the stuck mind to question what it thinks. So if the mind is full of jealousy, The Work provides a way for the mind to question its jealous thoughts, one by one. 

As the story unravels through inquiry, the jealous mind itself starts to see things differently. And jealousy loosens and often falls away. With this work, you never know how long it will take. It’s never up to me. It’s up to jealousy.

If my jealousy truly sees a more peaceful way to be, it will usually choose it on its own. But it cannot be forced. My only job is to keep listening, keep questioning, and keep testing what I’m finding as I do this work. In time, it is the truth becomes clearer deep inside. And that is what sets me free.

How to do The Work on Jealousy

Here’s how I use the four questions and turnarounds of The Work on jealousy.

I find with jealousy there is always something I’m wanting. The other person has it, and I don’t. So I write down what it is they have and question that.

For example, Let’s say you’re jealous of your boyfriend’s ex love. What what does this past lover have that you don’t have? To your mind, she still has his love (and you don’t—even though he’s with you now). So you can question the thought, “She has his love,” like this, “She has his love, is it true?”

Then, to take it further, I also question if I really want what I think they have. This is a second, separate inquiry. For example, “I want his love, is it true?” This has a different flavor to it, and the inquiry is quite different.

These two pieces of inquiry, “She has his love, is it true?” and “I want his love, is it true?” are a powerful place to begin, in my experience. Of course, I encourage you to use all four questions and find turnarounds and examples as you do this work.

And You Can Take It Further

Here are some additional concepts you could question (using the four questions, turnarounds, and turnaround examples for each one):

I need to know how they interacted.
I need to know what they talked about.
I need to know how things were between the sheets.
She has what he had always wanted in a woman (blond, tiny, lovely figure).
He is thinking of her when he is with me (including in bed).
He wishes he was still with her.
I am just a Band-Aid to his pain of being broken up with.

I recommend questioning every one of these kind of ruminating thoughts that show up. I suggest doing The Work, one statement at a time without keeping score about how far you’re getting. I encourage you to do this work as a daily practice, meeting the jealous thoughts each day as they come up. Even just questioning one of these thoughts a day is a powerful practice.

People Say “Just Let it Go”

But the mind cannot do that until it sees things differently.

A new way of seeing things comes slowly through inquiry for me. That’s why I make it a practice to do my work every day. I don’t have to solve all my problems today, I just do my work and then do my best during the day.

Then I come back and do some more work. It is a process that has slowly transformed the way I see many situations that used to be stressful for me.

Get Support with this Practice

I also suggest that you join us for my weekly Open Sessions (or get the recordings). In these sessions, I am available to facilitate you and others who show up each week. Doing this work is like learning a new language. The more exposure you get, the more it makes sense.

You might also consider The Work 101, my online course, if you really want to learn this language of inquiry. If I can be of any other support, let me know. I also offer private sessions.

My invitation to you is to meet your jealousy with understanding and inquiry. I find that jealousy responds well to this kind of respectful questioning.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I began to seriously question my thoughts—to ask “Is it true?”—when our fights about jealousy became so extreme. First I investigated what happened when I saw him smile at a beautiful woman or talk with her. I thought I knew what it meant. With inquiry, my first surprise was that I couldn’t be sure that my thoughts were true.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is It True?

Emotional Trauma

haystacks along the Oregon coast

Emotional trauma is like a big black shadow blocking the view of an otherwise beautiful scene.

We All Have Traumas

A breakup, a death, an insult, an exclusion, a rape, an abuse of any kind, a loss, a failure, an injury; each of these can result in a trauma. It’s interesting though, I say “these can result in a trauma.” It’s also possible for the same events to not result in a trauma, depending on how you process them.

In other words, there are two parts to the word “trauma”: the actual traumatic event, and what the mind does with that event. If the mind escalates it and holds onto it, the trauma becomes bigger and deeper. If the mind balances it and lets it go, it does not continue to retraumatize and cause pain.

It’s the retraumatization that is the biggest cause of stress. The mind plays the event over and over trying to change the past, and feeling totally powerless. Eventually, the mind usually finds some escape: maybe to addiction, or maybe by focusing on other areas of life trying to bury the old emotional trauma and move on.

But It’s Never Really Gone

Like that shadow blocking the view, the mind is now limited. It can’t go to certain places because it could get retriggered. It’s not free. And whenever a retriggering happens, it’s a downward spiral until something pulls it out again.

This is why we’re all scared of emotional trauma. We try like crazy to prevent new traumas, and we try to avoid retriggering old traumas.

The problem is that there is no way deal with traumas. They simply have their way with us. And that is the most disempowering feeling in the world.

But It Doesn’t Have to Be that Way

In my experience, there is a way to deal with emotional traumas that gets to the root of them. I have experienced small and big traumas dissolve once I’ve used the four questions and turnarounds of The Work of Byron Katie.

In my experience, the root of any emotional trauma is the collection of stressful thoughts I am believing about the event that happened. My interpretation of the event is what makes it traumatic for me. And my belief that it shouldn’t have happened, and that it was a terrible thing.

When I start to question these thoughts around any traumatic situation, I often find that my attitude softens, and if I persevere in my inquiry, many times I find that the trauma evaporates completely in my mind. Once I see in this new way, it is no longer possible for me to go back to believing that I was a victim again.

This Is the Power of The Work

But The Work is a very personal process. It depends on how willing you are to look at the stressful thoughts that plague you, and it depends on your willingness to sit, not knowing if any answers will come, when you do the inquiry.

When self-inquiry is done in this way, wisdom from within often comes up to meet the questions. Perspectives change. Emotional traumas disappear. And laughter often takes its place.

It can help to sit with someone experienced in doing The Work to hold the mind when it wants to run away, but it can also be done alone in written form for those who are patient and willing.

The Mind Will Often Avoid This Work

It is sometimes easier to live with a blacked out area of life than to gather the courage it takes to shine the light on the shadow. The solution is simple: light is always the antidote to darkness.

Awareness is always the antidote to confusion and suffering. When The Work is used gently and with care and patience, it can be like shining a floodlight into the darkness.

But It’s Important Not to Push

I’d much rather let myself be pulled to do The Work instead of pushing myself to do it. So I respect my resistance to doing The Work. In fact, resistance is often where I start.

I sometimes begin by making a list of fears and other stressful thoughts related to the idea of doing The Work on an old emotional trauma:

I won’t be able to handle it.
It is too powerful.
I will end up making it worse.
I have to resolve it completely this time.
I have to do it alone.
It’s too shameful to work with someone else.

When I question my stressful thoughts about doing The Work on the emotional trauma, I often find myself drawn to explore it a little deeper.

Step by step, I follow my confidence when it leads me to go in deeper. And I follow my resistance and fear when they show me I need to back off and do The Work on the resistance thoughts instead.

There Is No Push that Way

I may even take a break for months, or years, before feeling drawn to work on a trauma again. I am in control, listening, responding to my experience and getting support when needed to do my work.

I always hold that “I don’t have to do this work.” This gives me the greatest freedom. Life will go along just fine if I don’t do this work. It is a luxury to question traumatic thoughts using The Work, not a necessity.

When I see it this way, I put no pressure on myself at all. And ironically, that’s when I feel most drawn to do The Work.

Gain confidence in doing The Work by taking The Work 101 course with me. The more you develop the muscle of self-inquiry, the better it can serve you.

Have a great week,
Todd

“At some point, you may want to go to the deepest pain inside you and clear it up. Do The Work until you see your part in it.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

How to Not Short Circuit The Work

wires

A short circuit happens when you bypass the regular circuit.

There Is no Shortcut with The Work

The Work is an experiential process with several defined steps to go through. If you jump from the beginning of the process to the end of the process, you can miss the experience of transformation.

What looks like a shortcut, may turn out to be a short circuit.

Here Are Some Ways This Can Happen

Probably the most common way of doing this is to “flip” a stressful thought to its turnaround without asking the four questions.

Another way it can happen is to take Byron Katie’s words as true, without testing them.

For example, someone recently mentioned to me that Byron Katie often says, “That’s the way it should be because that’s reality.” This is a very valid point and, if I fully understand it, it can be very freeing. It is completely true from a place of surrender.

But It May Be Too Big of a Jump for Me

I may want to surrender to reality, but I may not be able to in one step.

That’s what The Work is for. It breaks it down into smaller steps so that I can slowly move myself from arguing with reality to accepting, or even loving what is.

The first step is to allow myself to fully express my argument with reality. I need to feel fully heard before I’m willing to question anything. That is why writing down the stressful thoughts on paper is so valuable. It allows me to get the rant out of me.

The Four Questions Allow Me to Go Further

Once I have written my stressful thoughts on paper, I do not jump to the turnarounds. Instead, I ask the part of me that just ranted what it thinks. Is it true? Can I absolutely know it’s true? No matter how I answer, my mind starts to open to the idea that there might be more than what I’m believing. This is my first move towards acceptance, but it may not be enough.

Questions 3 and 4 take it further. They help me look at how my belief affects me. Does it bring peace or stress? The question, “How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?” shows me how stressful it is to believe it. And the question, “Who would you be without the thought?” often shows me how peaceful I would be without it.

This simple comparison loosens my attachment to my stressful thought. It helps me see that the thought itself is what’s causing my stress. These are experiential questions, and they continue to lead me from anger to more awareness.

At this Point I’m More Open for the Turnarounds

But even when I find turnarounds, I don’t take them as facts, I hold them as simply new hypotheses. Could the turnaround be as true, or truer? I look for my examples. It is in finding concrete examples that my acceptance of reality starts to crystallize.

At the end of this process, I may be able to genuinely say that “this is the way it should be.” I may find my own acceptance and surrender to reality. But I have to go through this experiential process before arriving at this point.

The Work is a meditation. This is why reading or listening to the words of wise people is helpful, but not always enough. I have to find it for myself before it’s real for me. The Work is what helps me to do this step by step.

Merry Christmas,
Todd

“When the answer comes from inside you, the realizations and shifts follow naturally.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

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.

Venting Is Powerful But It’s No Substitute for Inquiry

abandoned building

If there’s smoke in the house, by all means open a window.

Venting Is Powerful

When a stressful event occurs, the emotions that arise can be overwhelming. If left on their own, the stressful emotions and thoughts can build on themselves in a vicious cycle. One way to break the cycle is by venting.

Venting can be done responsibly by getting the emotion out without doing more harm. And one of the most powerful ways to vent responsibly is to simply write free-form all of the angry, stressful, sad thoughts onto a blank piece of paper. And then throw it out.

I believe there have been something like 200 scientific papers written on the effectiveness venting in this way. I’ve even heard of people getting rid of back pain by simply writing like this.

And there are many ways to vent besides writing: admitting publicly, crying, even just feeling the pain and allowing it to release. Venting is a way to release and move on.

It Allows You to Breathe Again

But venting only goes so far. In my experience, it does not deal with the root cause of the suffering. And if situations conspire again, the mind can easily get caught in the same vicious cycle again.

If there is smoke in the house, opening a window allows me to breathe again. But unless I put out the fire, the smoke will keep coming—even if the window is open.

When I question my stressful thinking by doing The Work of Byron Katie, I can often put out the fire completely. And then it’s done.

The Work Combines Venting and Inquiry

The first part of The Work is identifying stressful thoughts. This includes writing down all of the stressful, emotionally charged thoughts onto paper. This alone is powerful as a kind of venting. I can’t tell how many times I’ve written a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and felt better just for writing it.

But venting is just the first part of The Work. The real power lies in questioning each statement that I write. When I investigate with the four questions and turnarounds, I often find that what I thought was fire was not fire at all. I had fooled myself into a panic.

When I see the truth, it all falls away. That is the power of inquiry.

That’s Why I Love The Work

It feels like the ultimate in self-love. I allow my stuck parts to speak up, vent themselves, and be heard. And then I question everything to see if I can find the truth.

The more I question my stressful stories, the more they tend to unravel. And when they have unraveled, there is no need to suffer from them again.

For me, venting cleans up the immediate mess, but inquiry prevents future messes from happening.

Venting Is Still the First Step for Me

It is a life saver compared to bottling it up and pretending everything is fine, or wallowing in the pain. But I don’t stop with venting. I like to remove the very need for venting by questioning the thoughts that give rise to all of the emotions I need to vent.

Have a great week,
Todd

“…I’ll ask the child to close her eyes, talk to the monster face-to-face, and let the monster tell her what he’s doing under the bed and what he really wants from her. I’ll ask her just to let the monster talk, and to listen and tell me what the monster said. I’ve done this with a dozen children afraid of monsters or ghosts. They always report something kind, such as, “He says he’s lonely” or “He just wants to play” or “He wants to be with me.” At this point, I can ask them, “Sweetheart, ‘There’s a monster under your bed’—is that true?” And they usually look at me with a kind of knowing amusement that I would believe such a ridiculous thing. There’s a lot of laughter. This is the end of the child’s nightmare.” 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.

Practicing Public Imperfection

junk pile

Everyone’s got a junk pile. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.

Hiding Is Where the Problem Begins

In my attempt to be something other than what I really am, I have to manipulate. I have to hide some things, and promote other things. I can’t just be.

The appeal of manipulation is to hypnotize others into believing I’m something other than what I am—in the hopes that, when they believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too. It’s a complicated way of trying to fool myself into believing that I’m something other than what I am.

Luckily self-inquiry cuts through all this pretending like a knife.

Last Week I Was Inspired to Make Some Changes

In fact, I had been wanting to make these changes to Inquiry Circle for a long time. But my other routine work kept my days filled and I never had a chance to get it done.

I also knew that once I got into the job, it was going to take longer than I thought. That’s why I kept putting it off. But last week I took the plunge. The result was that other things had to get pushed aside.

A year ago, I would have stressed out about all the other responsibilities I was dropping, but this time I was consciously practicing public imperfection.

In Early September I Did a Worksheet on Something Similar

At that time, I had two deaths in my family and was stressing over not having time to do my work responsibilities AND travel AND be with my family. I wrote my worksheet on the new participants of The Work 101 (the course was starting at that time and I hadn’t set everything up).

I believed that they were dependent on me. I believed that they needed me to start on time and would be disappointed if I didn’t. I believed that they would even lose interest if I started a week late. I even quoted the old saying to myself, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” And I stressed myself out trying to be perfect for them.

When I worked the worksheet, I discovered that no one is dependent on me. In fact, I was dependent on them, mainly for their approval. My game was to make them believe that they were my one and only—that they were my top priority, even when they weren’t. In fact, I’ve used that as a lifelong strategy to get people to like me.

After doing The Work, I could see how understanding they would have been if I had delayed the course by a week. And I saw that the best “first impression” might actually be to let them know they weren’t my “one and only”—my top priority—and to allow myself to be less than perfect in their eyes. To show up real instead of perfect makes sense to me now.

So This Became my Living Turnaround

Last week, when my priorities shifted, I allowed them to shift. And I allowed myself to not do everything perfectly for a week. I didn’t write my newsletter. I got behind in The Work 101. I didn’t check my email for several days. I let everything slide except what was my true priority last week: to renovate Inquiry Circle.

And strangely, I didn’t feel much stress. It felt like I was being irresponsible, but in a really good kind of way. I was being true to myself, and not pretending to have it all together with everything else. I was not manipulating anyone by trying to be “perfect” to get their approval.

There was a lot of freedom in letting things slide. Instead of trying to manipulate you into thinking I’m perfectly organized and always get my newsletter out on time, I loved letting you down. It felt like the end of trying to be that person that I’m not.

And same with email, and same with The Work 101. It was actually fun to be honestly saying no to the things that “make me look good” and yes to what I really wanted to do. Pure selfishness for all to see. Pure disregard for others. And it was a real turnaround for me.

My Living Turnaround Was Literally to “Show up Late”

And so I did.

And now I don’t have to pretend to be the one who always shows up on time—another false identity blown away by inquiry and by living the turnarounds that I found in inquiry.

That’s why I love The Work.

And now my priorities have shifted back to writing my newsletter. But the difference is I know I don’t have to do it. I’m free. I do it when I can, and I love to do it, but I don’t sweat it when I can’t, or when I don’t want to do it.

That is the end of manipulation. The end of dependence. And the beginning of just being me.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“When you say or do anything to please, get, keep, influence, or control anyone or anything, fear is the cause and pain is the result. Manipulation is separation, and separation is painful. Another person can love you totally in that moment, and you’d have no way of realizing it. If you act from fear, there’s no way you can receive love, because you’re trapped in a thought about what you have to do for love. Every stressful thought separates you from people. But once you question your thoughts, you discover that you don’t have to do anything for love. It was all an innocent misunderstanding. When you want to impress people and win their approval, you’re like a child who says, “Look at me! Look at me!” It all comes down to a needy child. When you can love that child and embrace it yourself, the seeking is over.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love, Is That True?

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.

What if Life Were Just a Hobby?

model airplane

This man is getting his model airplane ready to fly.

Hobbies Are Not Serious

That’s what makes them fun!

Even when you take your hobby seriously, as I’m sure these model airplane hobbyists do, there is always a certain lightness to the way you hold a hobby. After all, it’s just for fun.

Compare this to the way many of us take life—like it’s life or death! We see it as very serious. Survival is at risk. It’s not play.

But Why Does Life Have to Be So Serious?

It doesn’t.

It all depends on how identified you become with it. Even a hobby can be serious—in some cases stressful—if there is no separation between me and it.

In fact, it is that little bit of separation that makes anything fun. It allows me to take risks, to not worry about doing it wrong, to experiment. When I’m not 100% identified with something, there is a safety factor built in. And when I feel safe, I can play.

The Work Helps Me Step Back a Little

When things start getting serious, for example when I start getting angry, or sad, or stressed, then I bring out The Work.

The Work is my way of helping me look at the big picture again. Whatever seems serious, I ask “Is it true?” and I start to gain a little bit of separation, a little bit of perspective. And that’s what makes me relax again.

I love question 4 of The Work, “Who would you be without the thought?” for the same reason. It gives me perspective. It pulls me out of my deep identification. Suddenly, it’s not serious. My ups and downs are just a part of the exciting drama of life unfolding. When I’m not identified with what is happening, I feel safe, and can let things go the way they go.

There Is a Time for Improving and a Time for Letting Go

Most of life is spent improving things, growing, evolving, perfecting, striving to accomplish. That really is a huge part of life. It is even a part of any hobby. There’s nothing wrong with it at all.

But there’s an equally important part of life, the part of letting go. This balances the perfecting side of life. And it allows me to take it easy when my efforts fail. It keeps me safe.

When a model airplane crashes, it is a disappointment, but it is not crushing because the perspective is that it is just a hobby. This built-in perspective makes it easy to let go.

What if You Thought of Life as Just a Hobby?

It could be very interesting to strive for perfection even while free of any need to achieve it. That’s the feeling of a hobby—doing it just for fun.

The Work opens this perspective by questioning any part of life that still feels serious. The more I do it, the less attached I am. And the less attached I am, the more chances I take. And the more chances I take the more fun I have.

Here’s to healthy separation as a balance to full engagement!

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“As the mind realizes itself, it stops identifying with its own thoughts. This leaves a lot of open space. A mature mind can entertain any idea; it is never threatened by opposition or conflict, because it knows that it can’t be hindered. When it has no position to defend or identity to protect, it can go anywhere.” 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.

Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

Letting Go of Perfection Once Again

two tracks in a grassy field

Nothing causes me more stress than being presented with two diverging paths.

Two Is My Least Favorite Number

And so is three, four, five, etc. In fact, the only number I’m really comfortable with is one. It’s probably just my brain. I don’t multitask well.

But when I look more deeply at it, the reason why I don’t multitask well is that I am a perfectionist. I want to do a really good job at everything I do. I’d rather not do something than do it poorly.

And underlying my perfectionism is my desire for approval, starting originally with my mom when I was a young boy in school. My mom, rightly, expected me to do well in school. But I—wanting her approval so dearly—made it my mission never to disappoint her.

As a result, I did very well in school, but I planted the seeds of stress for myself. Especially when diverging paths have presented themselves and there is not enough time to go in both directions fully.

One of those Seeds Planted in Youth Sprouted Last Weekend

It was a tough week in my family. First my step-dad died. And then the day of his funeral, on the other side of my family, my step-mom’s mother died. My partner and I have been doing a lot of traveling as a result.

But here’s where the two diverging paths presented themselves for me. The conflict for me was between family and work. On the one side, I wanted to just be with my family during this time of mourning. And on the other side, I had an unusually large workload implementing changes to Inquiry Circle and The Work 101.

Either one, family or work, could have filled my week completely. But when both presented themselves at the same time, I experienced stress. Because I didn’t want to compromise with either.

In the End, I Found Ways to Make it Work

But I see now that I have some ongoing work to do now that the crisis has passed. Here are some ways I can do The Work on this situation.

1. Identify stressful one-liners (individual stressful thoughts to question).

Here are a few that come to mind.

I don’t want to compromise.
I want to spend the week exclusively with my family.
I want to spend the week exclusively with my work.
There’s not enough time to do both.
It’s more work if I delay The Work 101.
I will look bad if I delay The Work 101.
I will look bad if I leave Inquiry Circle in a state of transition.
I will look bad if I don’t show up fully for my family.

These one-liners can be questioned directly, and they also lead to the second way to do The Work on this situation.

2. Write some Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets

The last three statements on my list above point towards some possible Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets. For example, I could write a worksheet on The Work 101 course participants as a group. My Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet line 1 would be, “I feel bound by them because they expect the course to start on time.” And I could go on to fill in the rest of the worksheet based on what I wrote in line 1.

Likewise, I could write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on Inquiry Circle participants. In this case, I have one particular person in mind. My line 1 statement is, “I am anxious with him because he expects me to be organized.” And I can go on to fill in the rest of the worksheet from there.

Finally, I can write some worksheets on my family, or family members, in different situations. For example, I can choose the moment when my step-brother said that he had hoped to hang out with me during the week. My line 1 is, “I am sorrowful with him because he hoped to hang out with me.” And I can continue writing the rest of the worksheet on him in that moment.

That’s the Cool Thing About Last Week

There are a lot of good angles for doing The Work that came out of this situation. It reminds me that every stressful situation is really just an opportunity for self-inquiry. Because, if it came up in this situation, you can bet it has come up before, and that it will come up again.

The Work is about getting stronger, and clearer—finding new ways of being in all the different situations that life presents.

I can guarantee that I will be presented with diverging paths many times again in my life. By working my stressful thoughts about this situation, I am laying the groundwork for a less stressful experience the next time it happens.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“The job you do out there in the apparent world is secondary. It’s only a place for you to judge, inquire, and know yourself. Your true job is to appreciate what is; your primary profession is to be clear.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

There Is No “I” Without a “You”

blue poppy

This is a blue poppy. I am not a blue poppy. I am the one who is photographing this blue poppy.

“I” Is an Elusive Concept

I usually assume that I know who I am. I am a person. I am a man. I have a particular kind of body, and a particular kind of mind. And when I see myself that way, I see myself as a unique individual in the world. I “know” who I am.

But when I look closer, when I question who I am, it starts to fall apart.

Who I Am Depends on Who I’m With

And I’m not just talking about my tendency to be a chameleon at times. I’m talking about how naturally I become something different each time I interact with something.

At one moment, I am a cook, when I’m cooking dinner. At another time, I am a listener, full of understanding. At yet another time I am a harsh critic, when I face someone I don’t like. When I’m riding my bike, I am a kid. When I’m budgeting my money, I am a grownup. When I’m with my father, I am a son. When I’m with my nephew, I am an uncle.

Who I am depends on who, or what, I’m with. That outside thing is actually what defines me in that moment. It is the client that makes me a facilitator. It is the reader that makes me a writer. It is the dirty sink that makes me a bathroom cleaner.

It is natural to have so many changing identities. But the problem comes when I fight these changes.

I Do this by Favoring Some Identities Over Others

I prefer to think of myself as a nice guy, rather than as a mean person. I like to see myself as competent, rather than naïve, or even stupid. I like to think of myself as successful, and I’ll do anything to hold onto that image of myself.

In fact, I spend a lot of time trying to hold onto ideas of who I am, trying to pretend that I am something that I’m not.

It Takes a Lot of Effort

It’s hard to be someone that I’m not. Either because I’m trying to be someone new, or because I’m holding on to who I was.

Life keeps changing. One moment I’m writing an article. The next moment I’m taking out the garbage. If I judge one role as better than the other, I may resist switching roles. And that’s how I make my life harder than it is. That’s when I feel stress.

The Work Brings me Back Home

The moment I feel stress, I know I’ve stepped out of sync with reality. The Work simply brings me back to my truth, to reality, to the truth that I was trying to hide from myself. And it does so by inviting me to look at my thoughts about you.

How I see you tells me who I really am. There is no hiding it. This look in the mirror will quickly set me straight.

When I find that I am just like those whom I judge, the pretense stops—and humility begins. My definition of who I am expands to include everything: the good, and the bad, and everything in between.

There is nothing that I am not. This is the end of denial. This is the end of pretending. And this is the end of struggle and stress trying to prove myself.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“If you don’t separate reality into categories by naming it and believing that your names are real, how can you reject anything or believe that one thing is of less value than another? The mind’s job is to prove that what it thinks is true, and it does that by judging and comparing this to that. What good is a this to the mind if it can’t prove it with a that? Without proof, how can a this or a that exist?” 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.

Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

Wanting Without Wanting

rose dessert

Wanting what is in front of me is wonderful. But wanting when I don’t have it can be painful.

Wants Are Tricky

Wanting something is neither good nor bad. It all depends on the situation.

If I want to be married and I am married, that is a great combination. In this situation, wanting to be married is peaceful. But if I want to be married and I’m not married, then that want could be painful.

What The Work of Byron Katie helps me do is adjust to my changing situations. And it starts by noticing any pain. Any emotional pain that shows up tells me where I’m resisting change or wanting something that I don’t have.

The pain comes from being attached to what I want when I can’t get it. My happiness has become conditional on getting what I want.

When I Notice a Painful Want Like That, I Do The Work

I write down the want that is running inside of me. And I question it—not as a means of going into denial but rather as a means of really noticing how that want is working for me. Is it bringing me peace or stress, happiness or pain?

The Work is nothing more than noticing.

When I notice that holding onto my want is causing me stress and pain, I am much more willing to hold it loosely, or to let it go completely.

Which Brings Up an Interesting Contradiction

When I question what I want, the intensity and desperation often goes away. But that doesn’t always mean that my want goes away. I’ve watched it happen many times after doing The Work on a particular want.

The craving goes away. I don’t care so much if I get what I want or not. But yet I still find myself moving towards the same desired goal. I am desiring without desiring. It’s a total contradiction, but the feeling is peace, empowerment, and easiness. It’s as if the want is no longer my want, but has a life of its own.

This balance of opposites is my favorite place to be. It allows me to act and pursue practical goals in the world without feeling desperate about achieving them. I am acting, even wanting, without attachment. In fact, my action tends to be much more effective in this space of not caring.

The Less I Want, the More Present I Become

I notice that my wants bring me into the future, or into the past. When I question my wants, I often find that where I am right now is what I want.

I may still even be pursuing some goal. But I’m pursuing that goal in the present, one step at a time. And I’m as happy to not reach the goal as I am to reach it. When I’m in that space, it feels like freedom.

What are your painful wants? I encourage you to write them down and question one today.

Have a great week,
Todd

“I am a lover of what is, and I don’t want anything else. I only know I want to be here with you now. I am here with you—that’s how I know that I want to be. It wasn’t planned; it’s simply unfolding.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

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.

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.

Whose Business Are You In?

Essex Ferry

“The ferry shouldn’t be 5 minutes late on a regular basis.” Whose business am I in?

Being In Someone Else’s Business Is Stressful

If I think the ferry should depart on time, and it doesn’t, I feel mildly frustrated, anxious, agitated, unhappy. The world is not working the way I think it should.

That’s what it feels like to be in in someone else’s business.

Where’s The Line Between My Business and Their Business?

This often takes some consideration to sort out.

I’m not in the business of operating the ferry service. When I think it should be done my way, and I’m not in charge, then I’m trying to exercise power that I don’t have. That’s why it can feel frustrating. I’m in their business.

But just because I don’t run the ferry service, doesn’t mean I don’t have any power at all. I can be completely within my own business while offering my feedback to the ferry company. It feels fine inside when I do.

It’s even my business if I gather support from others who think the way I do and give that feedback to the company too. There’s nothing stopping me from being really convincing. All of this is my business.

But the moment I think they have to listen to me, that’s when I step across the line into their business. That’s when the stress starts. That’s when I stop respecting them.

Why Is Being in Someone’s Business so Stressful?

Being in someone else’s business is stressful because at a basic level I am disrespecting the other person. I’m looking down on them. I’m thinking I know better. And I’m trying to control them. I am almost willing to use force to change them (because they are not willing/capable of changing).

Whenever I treat someone poorly, even just in my mind, I feel stress.

This lack of respect feels like a hollowness inside. I can feel it from my stomach up through my heart. That’s what it feels like to disrespect someone. It feels awful.

I Caught Myself Doing This Recently

The ferry schedule doesn’t really bother me. I actually like that it leaves 5 minutes late! So that’s a bit of a hypothetical example for me. But here’s a real one.

Over the past few months of running The Work 101 course, I’ve become increasingly bothered by participants who don’t participate fully. I see the value of showing up day after day for six weeks: a momentum gets created that allows for a deeper experience of the course. When they would get behind, I felt frustrated.

So I Did a Worksheet on It

I wrote out all of my stressful thoughts about it, and when I worked through them, I quickly discovered that I was not in my business. I was in the participants’ business.

My business is to do my best to design a course that is user-friendly, clear, doable, etc. But it’s each participant’s business how much they participate: fully, partially, or not at all.

For me to try to control what participants do is actually disrespectful, even if I have “their best interest in mind.” When I’m disrespectful in this way, I feel that same uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and heart that I described above with the ferry.

The Work Is About My Peace

Once I noticed that I was creating stress for myself by being in the participants’ business, I immediately wanted to stop it. That’s the beauty of self-inquiry. Once I notice that my hand is in the fire, it takes no further thought to remove it from the flames.

And that’s what I did. I changed my internal policy. I was basically demanding that participants keep up with the course in order to stay in the course. But now I’m taking a less rigid stance. If someone gets behind, I gently remind them, but I don’t push them.

They still have to complete all the assignments to get a certificate of completion. That’s my business to set the requirements. But whether they meet the requirements or not is totally their business. It’s their money, their time, their life, their course. This feels so much freer for me, and respectful to them.

Respect feels like giving room for the other person to meet me half way—or not. I love that feeling inside!

Have a great week,
Todd

“To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what’s right for myself? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve your problems for you.” 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.

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.

>