Letter: “My son shouldn’t play violent video games”

The following is taken from the July edition of the Byron Katie newsletter. Eileen writes because her son’s violent video games are causing her stress. Her words are italicized.

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Please help me with this one: “My son shouldn’t play violent video games/watch violent children’s programmes.” I know there’s a violence to stopping him playing them. But when he plays them he seems to get brainwashed into thinking it’s ok to go around shooting people and that the most important thing in life is to be the winner (the end justifies the means). So at times I panic, because I think, here I am doing The Work, trying to become a more peaceful parent, meanwhile my son is becoming indoctrinated in the art of war. Last week he bit a friend and said it was ok because he won.

I’ve considered the possibility that how much he watches and what he watches is his business. But he’s only six. If he’s doing what he wants to do, which is to play video games most of the day (he’s home-educated) and I let him, then am I not being passively violent because love would act to protect him? Aside from what will it do to his mind to immerse himself, at such a sweet young age, in programmes made by people who clearly don’t do The Work (!), I feel I must restrict his use for fear of what will it do to his body, his eyesight, his posture, his adrenalin (he gets very flushed), what constant exposure to electro-magnetic frequencies may do to his health, in way that can never be measured.

With a 6 years old, where do I draw the line between his business and my business? I find this one a really difficult grey area.

My daughter, Roxann, it seems to me, is very clear about her business, her daughter’s business, and God’s business. She sees her five-year-old daughter as her business and God’s business. If, for example, Marley wants ice cream before dinner and Roxann says no, it is over and done. It is over and done because Marley can trust her mother’s integrity 100%. Marley hears the no and simply goes on about her business.

If Scott, her father, (this no longer is entirely true, as he has since “lived through” a lot of ego didn’t survive the nine-day School for The Work) says no to Marley, he has to say it over and over, since he doesn’t really mean it, even though he thinks that he does; he (is this familiar?) is teaching Marley, unintentionally, that if she can push the right button, crying, begging, stamping around, pleeeeeeeezzzzzzzzing him, etc., he will finally say yes. She only needs to find the right button to push.

Now consider how painful it is for the little girl, as you imagine what she must go through and what she is teaching herself about what it takes to get what she wants in life. Now, consider the little girl who hears what she trusts to be true from her mother. I see peace. Her mother is so very kind in her communication and isn’t seeking Marley’s love, approval and appreciation; she is being honest and answering out of love with her instead. “After dinner, honey.” And that’s it. Roxann is open to a discussion and won’t be moved unless from what she is hearing it makes sense for her to move to another idea. I find that Roxann is very loving and open-minded and real with her children. I closely watched Marley growing up and witnessed the two methods of raising children. (Scott was doing it the way that I did it) The School really opened Scott’s eyes. Beautiful to watch such an amazing young family grow as their minds become open enough to Work themselves.

I asked a health kinesiologist to muscle-test for me how much was ok for my son to watch, and he said he thought an hour and a half was as much as my son’s body could manage each day healthily. So then I turn into the ‘Hour and A Half police’ as I try to apply this daily principle and notice my lovely son become secretive about watching. I have introduced guilt into his joy.

There is another way. I invite you to inquiry, to look to the ways that you are secretive, with him as well as with yourself and others.

So have I left my business in trying to protect my son? I note that when your daughter was drinking you did not take steps to protect her, and that this ability to stand back and just love her is what helped her the most in the end. But she was 16. My boy is comparatively tiny.

I read in Loving What Is that you’re no longer a believer that children’s teeth shouldn’t rot. So am I in my son’s business even when I brush his teeth? What about when I rush to save him from an oncoming car? I really get The Work when it applies to adults. But with my children, it’s more complex, because I want to be responsible for them.

If you can’t answer my question, then at least would you consider developing (a) a book on The Work for parents and (b) a video game for children based on being a warrior for The Work? Perhaps where they could choose which Byron Katie outfit to wear and then act out storming into people’s internal prisons releasing them from their uninvestigated alien thoughts. They could have special anti-thinking stun guns, love cannons and guns that shoot out questions and turnarounds. They could have bullet-proof suits printed with Judge-Your-Neighbour worksheets which see them through all obstacles. It could all be so lovely then. I could just plug my boy into all of that and he’d be happy and investigated all at once. And I could put my feet up, have a cup of tea and celebrate this marvellous technology that gives me a break and keeps my boy so entertained.

Love Eileen

Dearest Eileen,

“Your son shouldn’t play violent video games”—is that true? No, because he is playing them—until he doesn’t, and so much of this is up to you and what you are believing that would cause him to take over your life using ways that you have taken over your own life with. Our children learn from us how to get what they want. .

How do you react when you believe that thought? You feel stressed, worried, exasperated. You’re thinking along these lines: What are children coming to? What kind of horrible company would create a video game like this?

Who would you be without the thought “My son shouldn’t play violent video games”? Probably more relaxed. Possibly at peace with your son. Possibly at peace with yourself.

Possible turnarounds: “My son should play violent video games” or “I should play violent video games with my son” or “My son should play some other games.”

Accepting the way things are doesn’t mean you can’t act to change it.

So what to do? How should you act?

As a mother, you have a very clear path of action: either (1) you accept your son’s video game—perhaps you should enter his world, and join the game—or (2) you take away his video games. You can take immediate action. See if you can find an alternative to channel his energy. What comes to your mind? Perhaps a physical sport (skateboarding, soccer, tennis, rock climbing, running), perhaps a book (a friend swears by King Solomon’s Mines), or a chore or activity (mowing the yard, sweeping the floors), building (a treehouse, a kite, a plane), or creating something (a website, a movie, a painting, a comic book)—the possibilities are endless. And if he still chooses to play his video games after that, bring him some cookies and sit with him as he plays. Talk to him about it. About the game, about the violence, about the world. Show him the protests in Iraq on YouTube. You can engage with your child’s world or reject it. Try embracing it.

As an adult, when I do The Work I get free, and my children follow. My children learned confusion from me and are now finding clarity through me. We teach by example, not through empty words that we cannot follow ourselves.

“Sounds like a great video game, however: “rushing, storming…” I would have to relearn. Does it work with a smile on your face? Does everyone drop their gun and laugh? Then I’m in. Any ideas out there?

Thank you, dearest, I enjoyed your letter and have been where you have been, and it can be so very heart-wrenching as a parent when our children are out of control and we don’t know what to do.

Also, The Work brings sanity; no parent wouldn’t take a child to the dentist if they could. Roxann has the most amazing way of brushing Marley’s teeth and Marley today doesn’t and has never, as far as I can see, had the thought that it is something that is a burden. Her mother and father answered her questions and it all made sense to her, just like walking. Ahhhhh, peace is a brilliant state of mind, and my job is to invite the world to that. The way is “in” first and lived “out” as an effect of the power found inside. That is what happens as a natural result.

Loving you and your dear son,


Letter: Worrying About Iran

Dear Katie,

I am stressed about the situation in Iran. My brothers live there. They are out in the streets but we can’t get through to talk to them at all.

I keep thinking they have been shot.

Is it true? No.


I don’t want them to be hurting. The situation is not good at all.

I pray for the bravery of our Iranian students. But I also worry about my brothers.

How to stop worrying?


Dearest Sheila,

How to stop worrying? I invite you to all four questions and to consider any genuine examples discovered after each turnaround.

Question your stressful thought, “My brothers have been shot.”

Ask yourself:

1. Is it true? Yes or no?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Answer with either a yes or a no after you consider the question. Take your time. Notice that your mind tends to justify or defend what it is believing, and gently return to “Is it true? Can I really know that it’s true that they have been shot?”

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought “My brothers have been shot”? Do you see images in your mind’s eye of them being shot? Do you see them bleeding on a sidewalk, maybe? Maybe you them dead in your mind’s eye? Are they really your brothers or are they images in your head? I am inviting you to notice. Are your emotions being produced as a result of your brothers being shot in reality, or are your emotions the result of what is appearing, now, only in your mind’s dream? I invite you to realize for yourself the difference between mind and reality, the differences between the images in your mind and the state of grace of reality, this moment now and its gifts.

4. Who would you be without that thought, “My brothers have been shot”? Free to notice the grace of this moment, right here, right now. Able to watch television or YouTube or Twitter without fear. Perhaps appreciating the courage and bravery of the students without feeling panic, learning from them as you watch their courage, a courage that is also within you any time you become aware that everything you fear about the future are things you cannot know. Perhaps speaking out clearly in the protests in your part of the world (for me “protest” means to offer up intelligent solutions and examples of why what you believe to be true is a wiser, kinder way of governing). Perhaps reaching out without fear to a friend or relative who is also worried.

Now consider turnarounds to the thought “My brothers have been shot.”

What are some alternatives? One turnaround would be “My brothers have not been shot.” Give yourself examples of why this turnaround might be true.

Another turnaround: “I am shooting my brothers.” In your mind, aren’t you shooting them? And are you using their enemies to shoot them? What is the point of creating your brothers’ death and using their “enemies” to do it with, in your mind, over and over, when you don’t really know what is happening or even what they are doing right here from where you are, right now? The reality is that they are alive, as far as you can know, until you learn otherwise. When you accept reality just as it is, right here, right now, there is nothing between you and reality that would cost you the ability to serve what you can serve and to change what you can from where you are, right here, right now. This is just one of the advantages of the fearless, loving mind wherever you are. (Does fear feel kind to you when you’re in it? Is that what you use to motivate you into action? Fear is limiting; test it yourself.) As it is, you are superimposing your thought onto reality. To project your fears and experience them as real is often self-defeating and terrifying. Your blood pressure, your health, your energy, your right to the gift of real life is imagined away and replaced by unchecked imagination. Your physical health and the health of those around you are affected when you are lost in imagination as though it were real, swept away in the dream of what isn’t, right here, right now. Unquestioned thoughts are the root cause of all suffering and can be debilitating. It is a wonderful thing to question one’s mind, to do The Work and wake up to, be transformed into, what has been referred to as “the peace of God,” “the peace that passeth all understanding,” and be left with “What can I do to help from here, right now?” The Work offers each of us the opportunity to wake up from the nightmare, to wake up into what is real. Thank you, dearest, and let me know what you hear of your brothers.

Also, please do The Work on this: “My brothers are hurting.”

And there is another turnaround that I challenge you to consider through examples: ”My brothers have shot someone else” or “My brothers are shooting someone else.” Be gentle with this one. Though it may sound like a horrific concept to consider, to Work this thought can bring great insight and much peace. Those of you who have brothers sisters or friends in your life that you worry about in this kind of situation, I invite you to Work the turnaround, “My brothers are hurting,” and to get back to Sheila with what you find to be true. Please feel free to use the One-Belief-at-a-Time Worksheets; they are also a free download on thework.com. I invite all of you interested in Working this concept the opportunity to type in your response on this blog in the “comments” section below.

In love as you are, waiting for you to wake up to you as I see you to be,


Body in Ruins: ” I want my body to liberate itself of the cancer”

In physical pain and at the edge of death from cancer, a singer finds her voice.

Katie: Hi, sweetie! So what’s going on?

Vanessa: Well, body in ruins.

Katie: Body in ruins. Okay. So let’s hear what you’ve written.

Vanessa: I am saddened by my body because it’s giving me such a hard time, because it makes me feel sickness, nausea and pain most of the time. I want my body to liberate itself of the cancer. My body shouldn’t squeeze life out of me anymore. It shouldn’t suffocate me anymore. I need my body to become healthy, allow me to eat normally again. My body is a teacher of how to give up control, it is long-suffering, very weakened, exhausted, doing incredible work, trying very hard to liberate itself of the cancer. I don’t ever want to be so sick, weak, dilapidated, and suffering again.

Katie: So sweetheart, let’s start at the top again.

Vanessa: I am saddened by my body because it’s giving me such a hard time.

Katie: How do you react when you believe that thought—“My body is giving me such a hard time”?

Vanessa: Well, I feel like a victim. I feel like I don’t know how long I can stand it. So it doesn’t really help.

Katie: What does it feel like when you think the thought “I’m a victim”?

Vanessa: I don’t know how to say it. Very squashed. Squashed.

Katie: So “My body is giving me a hard time”—turn it around And where you have “my body” put “my thinking.”

Vanessa: My thinking is giving me a hard time.

Katie: Which one is the more painful or frustrating?

Vanessa: Well, it’s the body one.

Katie: And you have pain pills.

Vanessa: Yes. That’s not really the most painful. It’s because I feel sick to my stomach all the time, like I wanted to vomit all the time.