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The Trip-Wire Method Of Identifying Stressful Thoughts

There are two ways to learn Spanish. You can stay in the the classroom and conjugate verbs. Or you can get on an airplane and land yourself in your favorite Spanish speaking country.

If you take the more adventuresome route of travel, you will be rewarded with new food, new friends, and lots of chances to laugh at yourself. You’ll laugh, and so will everyone else. Because you’re going to make an endless stream of mistakes with your Spanish.

And as a result of all those mistakes, you’re going to really learn the language.

Now Let’s Say It’s Not Spanish That You Want To Learn

Instead, you’re interested in learning what’s causing your emotional issues. Let’s say you’re tired of them, and want to become more fluent in the foreign language of happiness.

And let’s say you want to use The Work of Byron Katie (4 Questions and Turnarounds) to explore this world of internal cause and effect.

There are two ways you could go about this.

The “Theory Way” Or The Practical Way

The “theory way” of doing The Work tries to find out the big issues in your life. Maybe it’s money. So you try to identify all your stressful beliefs about money in order to question them with The Work.

The second method, the practical way, doesn’t bother about the big issues at all. It lets you dive into life, and keeps an eye out for hitches. As soon as something comes up in daily life that is stressful, it uses it as an opportunity to do The Work.

I sometimes like to call this second approach the Trip-Wire Method of identifying stressful thoughts. You’re running along, and suddenly you trip on a wire that you didn’t see.

The Trip-Wire Approach Has Several Advantages

First of all, it’s immediately relevant. So you’re motivated to deal with it right away. When you trip, you immediately see the relevance of picking yourself up. You’re suddenly interested in doing The Work.

It’s also easier. You don’t have to go searching through your past trying to dig deep for stuff to work on. With the Trip-Wire Method, it comes to you. And because the event that tripped you has just occurred, all the details are fresh in your memory.

Also, there’s no burden of having to “fix” the big issues in your life when you use the Trip-Wire Method. You’re not doing anything “important.” So there’s a lot less pressure. And a lot more innocence when you let life simply trip you up. It leads to more surprise discoveries because you’re not the one picking and choosing what to work on. There’s no motive running.

And It Saves Time

When you study Spanish in a classroom, you may end up learning stuff you’ll never use in real life. For example, you may study words in the classroom that are important in one country but are not used at all in the country where you plan to go. Or verb forms that are no longer used.

And in the classroom you’ll never learn all the slang words that are really important where you want to go.

In Other Words, You Can Waste A Lot Of Time When You Take The Classroom Approach To Learning

And you can waste a lot of time when you take the theoretical approach to doing The Work. You may be so focused on trying to deal with what you think are your big issues, say on money for example, that you miss the way your personal relationships trip you up every single day.

In fact, when you take the theoretical approach, you may get obsessed with a particular area of life that is already pretty good for you. You’re trying to make it perfect, while other areas of your life are falling apart.  It may even become a way of staying safe, and avoiding the more practical issues you face every day.

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use a more theoretical approach when doing The Work.

Both Methods Are Helpful

For example, as you can see from last week’s newsletter, I’m currently using the “theory way” to question at all of my stressful beliefs about divorce. And I’m drilling down to find specific situations in the divorce of my parents where I can write Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets. I’m learning a ton in the process.

But I could get lost in this world of doing The Work on divorce. And I would miss out. I’d miss out on the practical issues that life brings to me every day. Like when someone gives me negative feedback. Or when someone annoys me with their shortsightedness.

That’s Why I Love The Trip-Wire Method Of Identifying Stressful Thoughts To Work

The little issues that pop up show me exactly what I’m blind to. When I use the Trip-Wire Method, life becomes my teacher. Life chooses what I need to work on. That way I’m learning by immersion.

Which is also the way I happen to prefer studying Spanish.