A couple of years ago, I came across a book entitled, “Loving What Is”. At the time, I picked it up, scanned it, made note of it possibly being something to look into and then forgot about it. This usually means, I’m not ready for it. Fortunately I usually return to concepts and ideas to check if in fact I am ready yet. As I browsed through the self improvement section at Barnes and Noble, I once again came across Byron Katie’s book. This time I couldn’t get enough of it. I sat in the cafe and read as much as I could. Unfortunately I couldn’t buy it, because that would be breaking my pact with myself about not buying anymore self improvement books till I read the ones I have. So I took a few discreet notes, then went home to look it up on the internet. I watched her do the work with others on youtube and on her own site and joined a Loving What is Yahoogroup. I allowed myself to fully absorb the work and imagined how I might use it in my own life.
What amazed me most, was the simplicity of the four questions. Having done some work on painful thoughts/emotions, I always felt like the methods I’d come across, were a bit too complex or long. This was something I could do in my head, to quickly squelch a negative thought and if it needed more work than that, I could do it in writing. The first time I was able to use the four questions was the day I received an email from an old colleague of mine. About a year ago, she forwarded my sites to her son who works at a publishing company. He didn’t respond at the time with a request to see my book which is what I hoped for.
About a week ago, she emailed me, out of the blue and said her son was interested in seeing my manuscript and would like to pass it along. As soon as I received this email, I went into a state of panic. I felt a crushing anxiety in my chest but this time because I had the four questions whirling constantly in my head, I was able to stop for a moment and ask, what is the thought behind this emotion? The thought was clear nad immediate, ”I’m not ready”.
Now I had something I could work with. I decided in that moment, that I could feel the emotion but that I could also challenge the thought creating the emotion. I decided I would use the four questions and the turn around and see what came up. Here is my transcription of what occurred for me that day.
I’m not ready.
Is it true?
Well, yeah, it’s true, I’m not ready for this, the book is not ready and I’m not ready.
Can you absolutely know it’s true?
Well, I can’t be sure, I can’t know for sure. I might be ready and not know it. I may be ready.
How do you react when you think that thought?
It makes me feel frustrated, like something is wrong with me. Why am I not ready? I’ve had two years, what’s it going to take???? I treat myself like I’m not good enough. This thought makes me want to give up. This thought makes me feel inadequate.
Who would you be without the thought?
Wow, I think I’d feel pretty ready, for anything that comes my way. Opportunities would come up and I’d say, yeah, I’m there, let’s go. I’d feel free and confident, up to the challenge, whatever it may be. I’d feel better about what I’m doing and about myself.
Turn it around
I am ready.
If I lived this turnaround, I would live from a place of expectancy and anticipation of the great things that lay ahead.
My thinking is not ready.
If I lived this turnaround, I could work on my thinking, getting myself ready to be ready. I could work on being ready, using the work to challenge my thinking.
After doing this in my head, the panic was diffused and even though when I did my turn around, I didn’t feel totally confident when I said, “I am ready” something did shift inside of me. I felt more confident and powerful. I felt like I could work on getting ready and that eventually I would feel completely ready. This helped me to spend the rest of the week, finishing the book, and getting it ready to send out. I am now awaiting the go ahead to send the manuscript in.
So far I’ve done the work around stressful thoughts on some family members as well as my own thoughts about creativity and self worth. It is a process you can use again and again, challenging the thoughts that bring you pain or cause stress in your life. I invite you to use it, play with it, and empower yourself with it. Take a look at some of the youtube videos,watch her do it a few times before doing it yourself. Also, she suggests that you do the Judge Your Neighbor before doing it on yourself. The worksheets and a facilitation guide can all be found on her site for free at http://www.thework.com/. It may be easier to do it on someone else, someone who you feel is causing you to feel frustration, sadness or anger.
Just be prepared because it always comes back to you. The story you have of others, is really your story about yourself. You have to be willing to really see yourself, and love what is.
Here are the four questions again:
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react when you think that thought? Who are you with that thought? How do you treat yourself and others?
Who would you be without that thought? How would you treat that person? How would you treat yourself? How would you live differently?
Turn it around (You can turn it around on yourself, the other, change it to my thinking, change I am to I’m not, I’m not to I am. Choose the turnaround that is as true or truer than your original statement, then come up with three genuine examples in your life in which the turn around is as true or truer than the original)
Above all be gentle with yourself. This is not another reason to bash yourself or feel badly. It is about peace, freedom and acceptance. Even if you find out something painful about yourself by doing the process, it is worth it. In seeing the truth of who we are, we can then grow and learn. We can love what is right in front of us and make peace with it. The shadow work that Debbie Ford does, goes right in hand with this. In shadow work, you accept all parts of yourself even the ones that bring you pain. There is great freedom in that.
(One note of caution: Byron Katie does some really controversial work around sexual abuse in particular. I myself do not feel ready to use the work around this issue and would caution against listening to some of her tapes around sexual abuse till you have some experience using it the four questions in your life on a regular basis. I tried listening to one of the tapes and had to turn it off. I wasn’t ready and still have some discomfort around her approach around this issue. I intend on coming back to it at some point but for now, while I disagree with some of her views, I still see the value of this kind of inquiry.)
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