How do I Forgive Myself?

The email below was submitted for a Conversation with Byron Katie webcast from S. in Rhode Island.


Hi Katie,

I cannot thank you enough for sharing your wisdom from Loving What Is with me: A 40-year-old mom who FINALLY removed the painful thoughts haunting me my whole life, going as far back as 30 years ago!


Using your Method, inquiry, 4 questions and turnaround, I have detached myself from so many negative thoughts and forgiven people for any wrongdoing. But, when I judge myself with a truth like: “I want to forgive myself for my mistakes,“ “I want to not be so hard on myself,” or “I wish I could love everyone in my life effortlessly,” or “I wish I had more self-confidence,” and the list goes on and on. How do I find this peace in myself? I just don’t know.



Dearest S.,

I suggest that you close your eyes with that in mind as you begin to clearly locate one of those apparent mistakes in your life. Locate a situation where later you were hard on yourself. Or you can begin to recall a situation where you were not effortlessly loving someone, a moment when you were not loving toward a friend, stranger, family member, a situation where you weren’t self-confident, and fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on any of those situations, writing from that moment in time.

Let me know how you do, angel. There is no moment in time that you cannot recall as vividly as possible, collect your thoughts, write them down, question them, and set yourself free.

Loving you,

Letter: “My son has a grudge”

Dearest Katie;

My 28 yr old son, the one with the brain tumor, is breaking me down. He has a grudge and he’s going to make me listen. Recently he had a series of seizures and resulting brain swelling that left him weakened on his right side and unable to find words to complete his sentences. His tumor is progressing with its own life and growing and impacting him more all the time. So last week he wrote a letter for me to read. He says it explains everything, about how I’ve never listened to him, and that I’ve lied to him, and refused to believe him, and smothered him, and made him look like a fool. He is going to make me read his letter. Even though he requires 24-hour care now and has come to stay with me since last Monday, he says he will leave and find someone else to live with, if I don’t read his letter, and if I don’t change. I can find it all, Katie. I listened to him today and I was able to say “Thank you.” He told me, “You’re not always right.” And I said, “Thank you” and I meant it. And he said he felt better and calmer because he was able to tell me all this today.

I don’t know if this was anything like what you went through with your children. I remember you saying that after you found The Work, they came and told you all the awful things you had done to them. I’m not sure how to stand this, but I’m trying. Thank you for The Work.

My son is a gift. He’s going to give me my life. Last Monday, I mentioned that I’d get him his hair clippers from his house and bring them to him. He looked at me and said, “How do you know where they are?” I said, “Wow, you’re really suspicious.” And I proceeded to tell him I’d seen them when I had picked up some of his things the day before. And right then I saw it all, Katie. He never said a word, and suddenly I understood that he was just asking a question, to get an answer. And that I was the one with the story. I had no business judging that he asked the question because he was suspicious. And it isn’t my business if he is. I’ve been thinking about that several times a day since. I’ve been doing this to him, and to everyone I’ve ever cared about or just been around, all my life. How did these people stand me like this, the way I have been? Finally I am beginning to get it when you say something like “until you look forward to criticism, your Work isn’t done.” I’m looking forward to noticing the next thing, when I feel the criticism, so I can see if it really is criticism.

My son is a gift; I know that, because he’s going to give me peace. But he still causes me pain, when he talks to me the way he did today. I feel the pain coming and I notice it can fall away. I’m not there yet, but I have no choice but to listen to him, and try to remember it’s not personal. Thank you for The Work.


Dearest Jane,

You are very brave, sweetheart. My eyes are welling up with love, gratitude, and admiration as I read your e-mail. Yes, I love that you do a Worksheet on your son each day and witness love expand and continue to experience the gift of your son as he continues to grow you. Continue until your heart bursts open with love and your eyes can’t stop filling with gratitude.

In deepest gratitude for your courage and love in this world,
Byron Katie

The Work in Rwanda


The landscape of Rwanda is deceptive, hiding a mass grave under beautiful green grass, for example, or abject despair just beneath a smiling face.

Some of you have followed the story of Costa in Rwanda – as his family and friends have worked hard to rebuild their country. The Work that Costa is doing is making a difference, as Pamela Grace, Brenda Becker Goodell, Jon Newbill, Isabelle Stahl, Richard Lawrence Cohen, Christina Syndikus, and Paige Tuhey all found out when they visited Costa recently.

As the wounds of Rwanda heal, we are reminded that the suffering caused by our thoughts is often worse than physical suffering. The victims relive their anguish over and over again, until they are able to question their thoughts and move on with life.

The last newsletter gave us a glimpse of what the experience was like, thanks to photos and accounts from Pamela Grace, Brenda Becker Goodell, Christina Syndikus, and Richard Lawrence Cohen.

You can sign up for the Byron Katie Newsletter here >>

Forgiveness with Byron Katie: Ojai, CA [Sept. 18 – 20, 2009]


Studies show that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments. The first study to look at how forgiveness improves physical health discovered that when people think about forgiving an offender it leads to improved functioning in their cardiovascular and nervous systems. Another study at the University of Wisconsin found the more forgiving people were, the less they suffered from a wide range of illnesses. The less forgiving people reported a greater number of health problems.

Whether you are having difficulty forgiving your partner, feeling frustrated with yourself, your children, are angry with your parents, or are simply tired of feeling stuck and anxious about relationships in your life, this extraordinary forgiveness workshop is for you.

Friday, September 18, 6:00pm – 9:00 pm
Saturday, September 19, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday, September 20, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm

The Center for The Work
213 N. Montgomery Street
Ojai, California

$495 (Workshop only)
View our listing of local accommodations and services

Register for the Forgiveness Workshop
or call 1-805-444-5799 or
1-800-98-KATIE (52843)
International: (001) 805-444-5799

Questions? Email:

Letter: “The Work Changed My Life”

Dear Katie,

I do not know if you will get this, but I must thank you for your book Loving What Is. I was left by my girlfriend and baby and alone in Mexico with only hate mail and lawyer papers emailed to me, and no clue as to where my now past family was. As I travelled back to Canada I was terribly sad and could hardly hold back the desperation and sadness as I flew from Cancun to Minneapolis. I knew instinctively at the time that I had to be okay with them being gone, and me being alone and not able to see my child as a restraining order had been placed on me and there were so many unknowns. I went to a book store and picked up a few books and then I saw the title of yours Loving What Is; this caught my attention immediately, so I purchased the book. When I was sitting in the airport in the same eating area near a pizza place that my girlfriend and baby had eaten at not 9 months earlier, I was overwhelmed with remorse. So I left the area and found a chair and opened your book and started reading. It wasn’t 30 minutes and I was suddenly sitting taller and feeling free from the pain. I continued to read and even as my hunger grew I went back to the pizza place and ordered the same mini pizza I had eaten when with my family. I sat there reading and eating that amazing pizza, which it turns out was “humble pie” pizza which I thought fitting later on as I found the receipt in my wallet and had a good laugh.

As I was reading, I started posing the 4 questions to my thoughts “she should not have left me”, “I should be able to see my baby”, “she should not be able to take my baby”, “she should be more understanding and forgiving”, the answers came quickly and so did the turnarounds. It was like seeing for the first time, I had absolutely thought myself into depression, suicide, abuse and bankruptcy and then being left alone. I do not know how to describe the feelings that welled up inside me, but it was an awakening or epiphany, or whatever other way one could describe it. As I sat there I started to smile and enjoy my pizza, and it tasted so good, I was talking to the person next to me an simply felt good in that moment.

By the time I was flying to Winnipeg, I was so happy in the moment, for I realized everything I believed true about my life had been a lie and a deception from stories I had created for myself without knowing it. I realized so quickly that I was simply a kind, loving man sitting on a plane flying to Winnipeg, and as I reminisced with a fellow passenger, I knew from that moment on in my life I had finally come to understand what it was that was crushing me into oblivion. When I got to Winnipeg my sister was there waiting for me at the airport, and as I approached they were uncertain to as my state of depression or sadness and were unsure of how to act, I was smiling like the day my baby girl was born and I gave my sister a big hug and was laughing and joking and having a great time all the way home. They were none the less surprised, when asked why I was this way, I had said I had found this book, not sure what the title is though. For a few days my sister continued to ask me if the book was by Byron Katie, and I was like, I don’t have a clue. As I am more about substance than the title or author, sort of like the way I am with a good movie, no idea what it’s called, but it was good. She asked me if there was a blond lady on the front of the book, and I still had no idea, and as I talked about it she went and found the book in my carry on bag and showed me the book. And there it was, Byron Katie and a beautiful blond on the cover! We had a good laugh, and she started to tell me how she had been reading your stuff for a couple of years.

I thank you for your strategies in understanding our thoughts, it has changed my life. I have not seen my daughter or girlfriend in 3 months, and I am happy every day now, this would not have been possible 3 months ago. I would have cratered and fallen deeper into sadness and depression. Now I feel so free, my thoughts no longer lead the way, I lead them and decide on what to believe and how. It takes work, but I am so thankful I met your amazing Work through your book. I hope to come to a workshop someday when I have the money and I am on my feet, and look forward to meeting the woman who forever changed my life.

God bless you!


Peace on Earth

Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed within a 100 days. It was a genocide of Tutsis perpetrated by the Hutus.

We have received several letters and emails from you, our dear readers, asking us to explain more about Rwanda, and how The Work can be used to help Rwandans.


The five Rwandans came to School saying they were Tutsis, but just before the end of School one of them admitted to all of us that he was a Hutu and expressed his shame about the genocide. It was an amazing moment. He made amends and spoke of dedicating his life to taking The Work to the Hutus to help end genocide and the ideas that are the cause of genocide, in the name of peace and in the hope that it will never happen again. He, like the others, wanted to heal the wounds of all Rwandans.

Here is an audio clip (MP3 download) of the Rwandans speaking at The School.

The genocide in Rwanda has been documented in detail by the UN and Human Rights Watch, so that “the horrors recorded here must remain alive in our heads and hearts; only in that way can we hope to resist the next wave of evil.”

Meanwhile, the madness continues in the Congo.

How do you overcame these beliefs?

The truth is your beliefs are your religion (MP3 download), one belief by one by one.

It’s impossible to change as long as you believe the negative thoughts that you yourself are thinking.

In this case, the beliefs of the Hutus led them to genocide: “Tutsis are evil,” “Tutsis are tyrants,” “Tutsis are cockroaches,” “Tutsis are our enemies.” What other ideas do you see as contributing to the cause of such violence and fear?

Remember, peace on Earth begins with you. And the four questions and the turnarounds and your examples of these turnarounds are there, within you, to enlighten you and bring you peace.

Before we judge others, let’s remind ourselves that in our thoughts, we all experience what the Hutus were thinking anytime we hate or fear another human being, even ourselves.