A French woman does The Work on a situation with her sister that occurred thirty years ago. The woman had just opened her first bank account and was already in the red. Sitting at the dinner table with their parents, her little sister said, “You’re irresponsible.”
The belief she finds by revisiting that moment is “My sister betrayed me.”
BK: She betrayed you. Close your eyes and witness. Notice how you physically react when you think the thought “She betrayed me.” Describe it as you witness.
Woman: It’s as if I’d been shot with an arrow in my heart.
BK: Did you give her “the look”? We’re looking for those physical tendencies. I want you to get still enough to observe. Does your body tighten? Your shoulders? Your neck?
Woman: I can feel it in my eyes. I’m judging her. I feel myself above her.
BK: Do you feel the pain? Continue to look with your eyes closed. Look at your sister in that moment without the story “She betrayed me.” What do you see?
Woman: Just a little girl with an opinion.
BK: Do you see her innocence?
Woman: She just wants to be part of the family and take part in the conversation.
BK: Look at her again with the thought. Notice the radical difference. Who caused all that suffering, your sister or you?
Together they find turnarounds to her original statement:
Woman: I betrayed myself.
BK: You put your untested thoughts over reality.
Woman: My sister did not betray me.
BK: Could be as true or truer. She just told the truth.
Woman: I betrayed my sister.
BK: In that situation, what does that mean to you? Examples?
Woman: I crystallized the idea that I couldn’t count on her.
BK: She makes a statement that was a simple truth. You betrayed her by what you believed onto her. Not what she did, but what you believed onto her. Not being good with money is a good thing to know about yourself. People who betray you support you to come out of denial. Do you see how this is the end of war? Defense is the first act of war and your reaction to your sister was defense. It’s how the ego stays identified as that self. We have an identification that we want to live up to, like “I’m the responsible one.” When someone threatens the ego’s identity, there’s war. That’s how war is created in our world. If we can’t end the war in our own minds and lives, how can we expect our politicians to? We can’t. When we believe our thoughts, we create not only suffering in our lives but in the world and within our own families.
Defense is the first act of war. —Byron Katie