Live your best life …
It would appear that there is no one way to discover the truth or get in touch with reality; that’s why I find it interesting to read as widely as possible on this topic. In this blog, I go a bit deeper into the inquiry method called, The Work, developed by Byron Katie. In my opinion, questioning thoughts and beliefs is a valuable skill to learn.
It has been said that every upset is a set up; set up to help us realise something about ourselves; a chance to clear the fog around a particular issue. It is said that, the upset is not happening to you as much as it is happening for you. It is not a tragedy but an opportunity to ‘get real’.
Byron Katie says that most people think that the world is outside them. They pursue security and approval which they believe will ensure happiness once and for all. But, nothing outside ourselves can give us what we are really looking for.
According to Byron Katie, people who believe stressful thoughts are confused. Stressful thoughts do not represent the truth. She draws a distinction between mind and thought. Katie sees mind as an infinite source of truth and love but also as the source of what is not (a source of stories we tell ourselves). ” Believing what you think, you’re carried off into the drama of the self.” The perceived threat to our cherished beliefs mobilises our defences and we are at war.
I find Byron Katie’s approach to reality very fascinating. Questioning is the method on which her work is based. It is this inquiry that leads to discovery. The act of asking a question implies that there are other possibilities that could be considered.
To get the true impact of Byron Katie’s inquiry method, please go to her web site, www.thework.com
The following is a short summary of how her inquiry method works.
The method consists of 4 questions and a supplementary one she calls ‘the turnaround.’
The questions are:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?
Turn it around.
I am using the statement, ” My partner does not appreciate me”, to see what happens to it under the scrutiny of the questions above.
Question 1: My partner does not appreciate me. Is it true?
Firstly, you need to put aside what your friends have said, what you have been led to believe and listen to the deepest part of you. The answer may not come straight away. Be patient because it will. However, in the end, you may decide that your partner does not appreciate you and that may well be true. But if you stop here, you will find the same thought/belief looping through your mind over and over again without any resolution.
Question 2: My partner does not appreciate me. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
Can you ever know whether someone is appreciating you or not? Is it possible for someone to appreciate you and not express it in a way that is meaningful to you? And, at this stage, what is meaningful to you may well be a story you are telling yourself. It is very difficult to know anything absolutely.
Question 3: My partner does not appreciate me. How do you react when you believe that thought?
This question highlights cause and effect. When you bring to mind the lack of appreciation, you might withdraw, punish , ignore, resent, etc. You may feel self pity. You may begin imagining an improved life without this partner. Do you feel uneasy and sad? Does your head ache or is your stomach upset? You may notice how thoughts affect your physical and mental well being.
Question 4: My partner does not appreciate me. Who would I be without this thought?
Imagine yourself being ‘ Teflon coated’ in the presence of your partner. Nothing this person says or does ‘sticks’ to you. It just slides off. Without a vested interest in the belief that your partner does not appreciate you, you are free to act clearly, kindly and fearlessly. Katie suggests that happiness is the natural state for someone who knows that there’s nothing to know and that we already have everything we need, right here, now. There’s a challenging statement!
Turn it Around: To do the turnaround, you need to reframe the original statement as if it were about you. So, my partner does not appreciate me becomes, ” I don’t appreciate my partner and I don’t appreciate myself. ” Next, you need to find three examples of how the turnaround is true in your life. Katie says that this is not about blame but about discovering alternatives that can bring peace. The turn around can be tricky to handle on your own especially the first time through. At this point a councillor or a coach might come in very handy.
You have to be willing to accept that what you see in another (in this case we are looking at a lack of appreciation) is also in you. This is extremely challenging if you are hearing it for the first time. Even if you have heard it before, our ‘omissions’ are often very well ‘ protected’ and are difficult to find. They do not manifest themselves in exactly the same way as observed in another so that at first it appears that you are appreciative of everyone. Keep looking. The beauty of the inquiry method is that it brings these parts of us to the light of day.
This questioning technique is dynamic when done in person because the coach responds to the spoken words of the client and therefore is able to get to the heart of the problem without being de railed by a client’s story. There are several examples of Katie going through this process in her book.
Katie states that as long as you think that the problem is ‘out there’ – that is – someone else is responsible for your suffering, no peace is possible. So, bring the truth home to yourself and begin to set yourself free. Katie maintains that inquiry with the turnaround is the fast track to self realisation.
Be kind to yourself.
References: A Thousand Names for Joy ( Byron Katie with Stephen Mitchell)
Other books by the same author are: I Need your Love- Is that True?
Loving What Is
Reference: A thousand Names for Joy by Byron Katie with Stephen Mitchell