Socks, shoes, shirts, clothes, earrings, you name it, my 14 year-old daughter leaves it lying around. It used to drive me crazy (or crazier, as we like to say). Every Monday, which is cleaning day at our house, I would spend an extra hour or two picking up her crap before I could even see her floor to vacuum it (never mind actually cleaning it). My husband and I had tried almost everything: chore chart, rewards, punishments, allowances, and three times I took everything she had lying around her bedroom, put it in a trash bag and donated it to Goodwill. I would curse my way through this task every week wondering why she couldn’t just pick up her stuff. Didn’t she care about how I felt? Wasn’t she embarrassed about how her room looked? Didn’t she know that I was embarrassed about how her room looked? Wasn’t she tired of getting yelled at week after week? Maybe she was just an ungrateful horrible kid who appreciated nothing and we had failed horribly as parents?
We had been yelling at her about her room for more than five years when I read this passage from Loving What Is:
The reality was that day after day, they left their socks on the floor, after all my years of preaching and nagging and punishing them. I saw that I was the one who should pick up the socks if I wanted them picked up. My children were perfectly happy with their socks on the floor. Who had the problem? It was me. It was my thoughts about the socks on the floor that had made my life difficult, not the socks themselves. And who had the solution? Again, me. I realized that I could be right, or I could be free.
Holy crap, it was me, I was making myself crazy! There was nothing “wrong” with my daughter there was something wrong with me and I needed to make a change. So I did. The very next Monday it took me 5 hours to put away her stuff and clean her bedroom and bathroom. I didn’t complain about it, I didn’t tell her how much work it was when she got home from school, I just cleaned it and moved on. The next week it took me an hour to clean up after her, the week after that 30 minutes and now it takes 10. Every Monday when my daughter gets home from school she exclaims, “Thank you Mom!” from her clean room. I feel good, she feels good, it is all good. As a matter of fact, she keeps her bedroom and bathroom much neater now without me saying a word.
So, Byron Katie changed and improved my life and the life of my daughter. Her book delivered what it promised. I have always believed that we are what we think and The Work can help change perspective and thoughts.
If you are interested in reading more about Byron Katie’s “The Work” and her four questions, you can find her books at Amazon or visit her website. I highly recommend it.
All my best,