Letter: “You are your own suffering”

Byron Katie’s words suddenly make perfect sense! What a gift to be able to actually ‘feel’ this ‘simple’ sentence!

I’ve recently been shown just how true this statement is! I just wanted to share what came up for me around this. It’s been an amazing realization for me—not just shown to me once, but over and over, until the lesson was learned and the message heard! Yep! got it! loud and clear!

I was recently rushed into hospital following a major surgical procedure. I’d contacted septicaemia and pneumonia quite severely afterwards and was very ill. I had to have two further surgeries to ‘save my life.’ I was admitted to Critical Care, where I was in a small coma for just under five days—‘being breathed’ and such like by machines.

The thing that has hit me with a huge impact since, is that whilst I was ‘unconscious’, I had no pain, no thoughts, no images, no past, present, or future, no stories, no attachments, no judgments, no love, no hate, no business, no logical awareness of what was going on around me, happening to me, how it was affecting my loved ones, no fear, and so on, therefore, no suffering! Just pure peace! Bliss! Rest! Calmness! Just being! Not one stressful thought that I can remember in any way shape or form.

It was only as I started to come round back to the ‘land of living’ that my suffering started!

My mind kicked in the second I opened my eyes (or so it seemed) and the thoughts, images, stories and fears started to take over.

It was at this point that my peace went out of the window and my suffering started. I began forming all kinds of stories once I saw the machines I was attached to, the drips, the needles, the blood, dressings, etc. Pure panic kicked in and my mind went into overdrive. I had no idea where I was, or why, and yet, I’d developed a whole story in my mind. K Magnified several times over. Shock. Confusion. Disbelief. Denial. Insanity!

It was painful to let it all out and it was painful to keep it all in!

Then, I saw the blood I was having via a transfusion! That was it! Fear kicked in and the mind stated all over again, like a broken record. I started trying to make sense of things, piece things together, and understand what was happening. My head was like a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, and yet, I still didn’t know what had happened. I had nothing to base any of my thoughts, presumptions, or theories on. No proof. No memory. No evidence. No knowledge. Just my own stories keeping me in my own prison.

What was this constant need all of a sudden to understand everything? I’d never really paid much attention to my body before, and yet now, it’s all I could think about! It’s almost like I HAD to focus on something—there HAD to be a reason for it to be ok! Who was causing my suffering? ME!!! Who was trying to fight reality? ME!!! Who was getting nowhere, but causing pain and torment? ME!!!!

What was even more remarkable, is that I hadn’t had any physical pain, until the doctor explained to me what had happened. It was then that I suddenly started ‘feeling pain’ in the effected area and was plagued by it. It became hard not to focus on it, and yet, it had been that way for days. Nothing had changed: just my thoughts and attachments!

It’s since made me stop and think—was it that I could feel the actual physical pain in my body? Or, was it that I was attaching to the story of what had happened to me that made me aware of the pain? Nothing had changed (physically) from the time I was in a coma to the time I had opened my eyes, and yet, mentally, all hell had broke loose. The wound was in the same state. The dressings were the same, etc. Nothing new… just that I was now awake and ‘processing’ all around me.

I’d gone from being comfortable and rested, totally oblivious, to all of this, with the opening of my eyes, and the instant attachment to my thoughts in those surroundings. Would the outcome be the same if I’d woken up on a tropical island somewhere? I cannot know that, and it’s doubtful. Fascinating!

Who was causing my suffering? ME!!! Who was trying to fight reality? ME!!! Who was getting nowhere, but causing pain & torment? ME!!!!

Again it happened when the time came to change my dressing. I’d only heard about my surgery, what was done, how it looked, and what to expect. It would seem that I’d chosen to ‘ignore’ all of this information and detail, on the basis that: a) It didn’t suit me at the time; b) I was too wrapped up in my own images and stories; c) I’d had no visual stimuli / trigger and d) I was so out of my business (amongst other things!).

Then, when it was uncovered and I actually saw it for myself I was beyond shocked. I couldn’t speak. It was ‘worse’ than what my mind had allowed me to visualise. Or, at least, that was my story!

Again, the stories came flooding in—supported now by images. I was in the past, in the future—trying to fight reality once again. I made instant judgments. I focused on my body and how ‘ugly’ and ‘disfigured’ it was. How ‘damaged’ it was. How I’d never be the same. How it had ruined my life. Endless thoughts of suffering—which, I’d not had when the wound was hidden!

Who was causing my suffering? ME! Everything else was just doing its own thing blissfully as it should, minding its own business, and yet, I couldn’t seem to do the same. While I was ‘out of it’, ‘unaware’, I was silently fighting some how without even knowing—with no stories, no pressure, no expectations, no motives. Once I became ‘aware’, I’d started to do the opposite, putting my body through even more turmoil, thinking I had some kind of control some how. Remarkable!

Several days later, I learned that my nan had been told to ‘prepare for the worst’ and that the medics ‘didn’t hold out much hope with my chances of survival.’

Again, it was only when I heard this story that my suffering started. My mind bypassed the information I had just heard and I went straight into feeling guilty. I blamed myself for putting her through all of that (like I had a choice!). I pictured her being ill from the stress of it all and so on. Mind overload! It became unbearable once again!

Previous to knowing this piece of information, I was oblivious. I didn’t have any of those thoughts. I wasn’t even headed in that direction. It wasn’t an option. It’s amazing.

Who was causing my suffering? ME!!! Who was trying to fight reality? ME!!! Who was getting nowhere, but causing pain & torment? ME!!!!

There was much more too. But, all in all, my main point throughout is based on Katie’s sentence:

‘You are your own suffering.’

The words keep ringing through my mind. I’ve heard this many times since doing The Work, and never really fully paid much attention to it. I was convinced that it couldn’t be true. That it was others who almost certainly caused my suffering. I was in true victim mode. How could I possibly cause my own suffering? It was other people’s actions / words that hurt me. How could I possibly be my own suffering, when all I was doing was trying to find peace, a ‘solution,’ a ‘way out’? And so on.

Now, this sentence alone holds a whole new meaning for me, and I FEEL it.

‘You are your own suffering!’

This has certainly been true in my experience and, it is only now, after my recent journey, that I can digest those words and really embrace them. I love the peace that I’ve found around this and that I can share it with others.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long realization & be a part of my journey.

Jai Jai xoxoxoxo

* * * * *

Dearest Jai Jai,

I am grateful that you shared your experience with us and so very grateful for your journey to love in this world. Your peace is my/our teacher.

Always, always,

Explanation: “If a thought is hurtful, then it is untrue.”

Dear Katie,

I would like you to speak to a recent quote of yours (I hope I get it right): “If a thought is hurtful, then it is untrue.”


Dearest Lori,

Yes, this is something I have said often, in many variations. And what is even more important, if a thought hurts you, question it, and watch it let go of you. Ask yourself whether it is true or not, ask yourself how you react when you believe it, and so on, and really listen. You can know that reality is good just as it is, because when you argue with it, you experience anxiety and frustration. Any thought that causes stress is an argument with reality. All such thoughts are variations on a theme: “Things should be different than they are.” “I want…,” “I need…,” “He should…,” “She shouldn’t…” “I don’t ever want to . . .,” “He is…,” “They are…” “It always hurts when you argue with what is kind, which is your true self, your own heart. When the mind matches the heart, there is a balance, there is no suffering, no confusion. Done. And we can always begin right now. Or not. It’s up to the “you” that mind believes you to be in the given moment, and that is all there is or isn’t.

Thank you for the question.

All ways love, as you are,


Letter: “My Dad is not okay”

Hello, Byron Katie,

My name is Janet. It has been 18 months since my dad was killed (radiation treatment for cancer) and I just cannot come to terms with what happened to him. He is my best friend; I love him more than the universe. He wasn’t a very happy man in his later years, but was only 70 when he was killed. I let him go initially as I felt there was a hereafter, but I have not heard from him personally, nothing, no dreams of him. I cannot believe that a person I (and my mum and twin sister) can be so close to, love him so much and not know for sure he is okay. I cannot stop being in agony all the time and no-one understands. What can I do? I also lost my beautiful dog, my uncle my aunt and my grandmother all around the same time (18 months). I can cope with their loss, just, but not my dad. Thank you for your time. You are the most amazing person I have ever read about, you know the truth, see through the illusion, and I would love to hear what you have to say about my hurt. Thank you again.

Best wishes and thank you for your Work,

Dearest Janet,

I hear from you that you’re afraid your father is not okay in death. I would ask that you answer the following questions. “Your dad is not okay”—is that true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true that he is not okay? How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I hear that you are in agony, you feel that no one understands, you believe that you can’t cope, you are hurt. What else? Get as quiet as you can and trace what happens as a result of believing this very painful thought. How do you treat yourself when you believe it? How do you treat the people around you? Notice what more is affected when you believe the thought. Then ask yourself who you would be without the thought. Who would you be, living your life after your father died of cancer, if you didn’t even have the ability to think the thought “My dad is not okay”? Then turn the thought around and find at least three genuine examples for each turnaround. How is each one true? For example, “My dad is okay.” Would you like to hear two examples that I found? 1) He has never spoken up to give you any sign that he is in agony, that he isn’t okay. 2) You are guessing and don’t know. What other examples can you find on your own and without my help?

Another turnaround, a turnaround to the self, would be “I am not okay” (in the moment when I believe my dad is not okay).” Continue finding turnarounds and examples for each turnaround until you are free to think this thought, without believing it and without pain, angel. A thought unbelieved is a welcomed friend, not an agony-maker. You can take care of one of you, and that would be the one who you know for sure is suffering, and that would be you. I care deeply that you stay with yourself and give yourself the gift of freedom from agony around this unquestioned assumption, and if you want to end suffering in your family, deal with your own suffering first. If you can’t take care of your own suffering, how can you help others, “dead” or alive? Be still, angel. The answers that will set you free are within you. Ask, wait, listen, and be enlightened to what you already know. This enlightenment brings you closer to your father, much closer than agony ever could. Love is the power, and you have it within you to ignite that power.

You might also check in with yourself about the three kinds of business. Whose business is it if you are not okay? Whose business is it if your dad is not okay? If you can get only this straight, it could make things a lot easier for you to begin to do The Work.

Until we know that death is as good as life, and that it always comes at just the right time, we’re going to take on the role of God without the awareness of it, and it’s always going to hurt. Whenever you mentally oppose what is, when you think that you know what should and shouldn’t happen, you’re going to experience sadness and apparent separation. There’s no sadness without an unquestioned story. What is is, because it is. You are it.

You imagine an afterlife, and you feel devastated that your father hasn’t communicated with you, that you haven’t even dreamed of him, except as a waking dream, and it is a nightmare. No one knows what death is. Maybe it’s not a something; maybe it’s not even a nothing. It’s the pure unknown, and I love that. We imagine that death is a state of being or a state of nothingness, and we frighten ourselves with our own concepts. I’m a lover of what is: I love sickness and health, coming and going, life and death. I see life and death as equal. Reality is good; so death must be good, whatever it is, if it’s anything at all. Death is kind enough to be still and silent, and I appreciate that. Everything else is projected into that stillness by your mind.

I hope that you write down all your stressful thoughts about your father and your projected “afterlife,” sweetheart, and do The Work on them. That is the only way I know that will help you out of your misery. Whatever else I may say won’t help you, even if you believe that I am telling the truth, even if you believe that I am the most enlightened person who ever walked the face of the earth. It’s only your own wisdom that has the power to show you the way out of confusion. So I invite you to The Work. Question what you are believing about your father. It’s not your father’s death that is causing your suffering; it’s your unquestioned thoughts about him and “his” death. I invite you to question these, and set yourself free.

In deepest gratitude for your stillness and devotion to what lives in you,

Letter From the Archives: “My Betrayal Hurts!”

Dear Katie, I understand how you can live from day to day, moment to moment, when you know “It is what it is.”

Thank you, and as you may have noticed, everyone lives from moment to moment (or so it seems). Our unquestioned thoughts are what make life appear to be in time or as you say, “moment to moment.” It can appear to be difficult if you believe your thoughts, but that doesn’t make life difficult; it can’t be, because it’s not. In your life, without your story, you have always done quite well from moment to moment, and I love that you recognize that for yourself in “time.”

But sometimes, at least in my case, a betrayal of the heart, infidelity in the marriage, and loss of trust and feelings, does consume most of the daily thoughts after its discovery.

Betrayed? Do you mean that someone else determined to live her own life in her own way, following her own path, without your permission or direction? Isn’t that what betrayal is really about? Has your mind ever changed when you thought it wouldn’t? Have you ever lied? How often have you betrayed yourself? Is it her betrayal or your own that you are suffering from? Contemplate this in the stillness: is your mind not allowing your true nature, unconditional love, to live itself out of you? It is always present, you know. The unquestioned mind is sometimes louder, and it overrides the true nature of your own heart, but it can never obliterate what is real, what you truly are. Isn’t it truer that your unquestioned thoughts are not allowing you to be more aware that you really love the apparent “betrayer”—that in reality you love yourself and you love her just as much.

According to almost all the psychologists, once betrayal and infidelity are discovered, “it is the worst pain anyone can endure, and it consumes all of one’s thoughts and energy into all of the details of WHY?”

Why did it happen? Because it did. How else can ultimate goodness give all its beautiful self to you? If I lose anyone or anything, I’ve been spared, since this is a friendly universe, and I have tested this thoroughly. And not only spared but blessed, and so have they, and we are all better off because of it. That is obvious if we are awake enough to see the real in everything and without exception. That’s how life works. Our minds don’t have to understand this, but the kind of stress that comes from suffering and confusion happens until you do understand it. Until you do, you tend to see what is really grace as the oppressor, rather than to look to your manufactured unself, your thoughts. I invite you to find a minimum of three specific, authentic reasons why your life is better without her. It doesn’t mean you don’t love her; it is just that her leaving is for you; it is not happening in order to hurt you. And know that for every reason you find, time in its kindness will show you even more. If you question your thoughts and allow the open mind to live, the mind that you’re so capable of growing, you’ll see why nature, “the way of it,” is so perfect, wise, so benevolent. It is impossible for anyone or anything to take from us what is good. Life, takes from us what is no longer needed, in order to give us not only what is good but what is better, what is ultimate. This is always going on, and it’s all that is going on, through nature, in time. If your mind will not open to those possibilities that I speak of, it must remain in the non-generous, limited polarity of mind, the polarity I call suffering, the old paradigm. Notice in the polarity of hell how deeply in its black cave you are living or have lived. I invite you to dig yourself out of that grave. You have all of the help you need. For example, if you become still, listen, contemplate this wonderful thing that has happened, you will find three genuine reasons why your life is better without her. And if you can find three, you can find more. Move toward the light, sweetheart. It’s a beginning, and you have you and reality to show you what is already obvious.

This pain sometimes lasts years and years, because of the disbelief that one could give 100% of oneself to another person, trust no other, love so deeply, and then find out all of the “reality of it.”

The problem is that you put conditions on your love, as you think you were giving 100%. “You trusted her”—is that true? I trust Stephen 100%. I trust him to do what he does. And he always does. You trusted her to do what you wanted her to do and expected her to do. That is a very different matter. You cannot dictate another person’s life with your desires, assumptions, and bribes and secret motives running. Dictate your own life, your own unconditional love, and see if you haven’t let yourself down as well. That will keep you very busy, and out of the business of dictating her life in your head, only to be let down, to turn bitter, and be left to experience your own sometimes-closed heart. I love loving deeply and finding out the reality of it. I am free. I have given my love 100% to the other, and this supports him to live out his life, with or without me, and because I love him, I love that. It feels right that I would allow him the same happiness that allowing him gives me. It’s not as though I am noble or kind: I just no longer have a choice, since one way is to suffer and the other isn’t, and I’m about the end of suffering. And I love that this no-choice and my mind flow like a river as one.

How do you counter something that has deeper and worse pain and hurt then the death of a parent? How can one’s reality be separated from that which was thought to be “one”?


You just named it, angel. It wasn’t thought to be one, it was one. That reality. Your mind, believing its thoughts, separated it out. It was never separate. You were simply believing your thoughts about what is, rather than noticing what is, and then you didn’t see why it is happening for you, not to you.

“She betrayed you.” “She was unfaithful.” “This is the worst pain anyone can endure.” “The pain will last years and years.” “These thoughts consume all of your energy.” “You gave 100% of yourself to her.” “You trusted no other.” I would question these thoughts, sweetheart. I would do it now. Now is always the right time. After you question them thoroughly, experiencing the answers from the heart, as meditation, I would gently allow the mind to flow to the turnarounds, finding the ones that make sense to you. And as you begin to seek authentic examples for each turnaround to enlighten any limited thinking you may be stuck in, allow yourself to take the examples you are being shown to live in your heart, as this allows them to shift you. Find genuine examples of how these turnarounds are as true as or truer than the original concept. Nothing less, in my experience is the cure for real hunger, and if peace isn’t what you hunger for, if you’d rather be right than free, then you will find little rest here.
I wish you peace, precious one. Thank you for giving yourself to your own sweet and gentle care.

Letter: Losing a Child

Dear Katie

I know you are very busy and lots of people are asking something of you. I am writing to you, because ‘something terrible has happened’ – the 6 year old girl of a friend of mine had what is called a freak accident, and she died yesterday. I am very touched by her death, and am writing down lots of beliefs about death, protection, safety, danger and so on, but somehow I absolutely cannot see how I can love that this happened. The idea of loving when somebody loses their child (even if it is only they who believe that) seems cruel and cold. Please can you tell me how one can move from accepting what is to actually loving it?

With buckets of gratefulness to you,

Dearest Sylvia,

Thank you for writing. You speak to the suffering of so many others as well.

For the sake of illustration, let’s say that my friend’s child died.

Here are a few of the reasons why I might love what is if I were in your position as a friend of someone who has lost a child:

– I love that the child will never suffer again.

– I also love that my friend won’t ever have to protect her child or worry about her, or manipulate her, or innocently teach her to fear, etc. (this is for my friend’s sake as well as the child’s).

– I love that her child had a full life (even if the child was only six years or six minutes old).

– I love that her child will never again experience anger, or the pain of hurting herself by hurting another being in any way, and be left with the guilt and the undiscovered reasons for the guilt and the suffering that the unquestioned mind’s blindness causes.

I could go on and on …. I love the way of it, and that we as true friends can hold our kind and generous insights within ourselves as we begin to wake up to the obvious, and I love that I cannot wake you or my friend up with my words, and I love that you both can do that. This child you speak of will never have to suffer what you and her mother are suffering through, and I am that child awake, inviting you to peace of mind. I died for you, and your friend is literally dying for you (it feels like that sometimes when friends are so entirely devastated), and I invite you to life, as death like life is only a creation of mind.

My beloved sister Sharon is dying of cancer now, and she is in the very painful last stages of agony. Watching my sister’s husband watch his wife in such dreadful pain would be agonizing, if not for the enlightened mind, the questioned awake-to-love mind. I see that he is helpless in the face of my sister’s pain. He has all kinds of thoughts and projections around the situation and the agony he witnesses. I consider the doctors and the hospice staff as authorities in this matter, and I watch as they do everything possible to ease the agony my sister is living in. That is all that can be done, and my job is to follow the simple directions as I watch and witness the best that can be done in the situation, massaging her swollen feet and ankles and legs as she cries like a little girl for our mommy, even at seventy-two years old. I watch as she eventually falls asleep into the abyss of the moment without moment.

Oh, how I love her, and how opposite of helpless I am. I am the power of love, and there is nothing more powerful than that as I find myself sobbing with her, for opposite reasons. Who would think that love is that grateful, that deep, that overwhelming, and tear-filled! As I sob, the joy within, the joy that is born out of my love, blind in its clarity, runs deeper than any sadness could ever begin to, and it is allowed to live at its depth, a state that fear is too shallow to explore and must always fall short in its emotion to express.

My sister’s dear husband is very afraid. “What will I do without her?” he says. I tell him that it’s simple. “Sooner or later you’ll go to the bathroom, then you will eventually eat, take a walk (he loves to walk), eventually sit down, then eventually stand up, go to bed, wake up, make your coffee in the morning. That is what you will probably do. But your thoughts along the way, your fear of the future and assumption of a past, make those simple things difficult.”

He knows that thework.com exists, and he will either Work his thoughts of not. For me, I will Work any thought that is small, petty, mean-minded, unkind, or fearful, or just doesn’t ring true. These conversations seemed very comforting to him. Also he would say something like, “I can’t stop her pain” and fall into a terrible kind of guilt. I hear how wise he is to know that he can’t stop her pain (in that moment, and he has done all that is possible under the circumstances) and he sees himself as falling short and shamefully so.

I, on the other hand, see a kind and caring man who loves his wife, has done everything possible to help her ease her pain, and wants what he cannot have in the moment, even though everything has been done short of killing her with an overdose of morphine and drugs. I see him as love in action, and he sees himself as falling short of the task. There is no suffering in my life, and when it is time for me to hurt, it is time, and it’s wonderful to understand that anyone can get through that kind of pain, since when you are in it you are getting through it, there is no choice. Also, the enlightened mind understands that all pain is on its way out and that pain never gets worse than it is in this moment now, and I invite you all to test this reality and to understand for yourselves that even physical pain is a projection of mind, as is all suffering. Everything comes or goes in its time, and everything is medicine, even a suffering sister, brother-in-law, or friend.

I hope that what I write is comforting to you and even a beginning of the possibility of your experience of gratitude, even of your joy, in what can be found within yourself. And I hope that in that your friend may follow without a word from you, other than what you so clearly live, which is that you care deeply for her and are doing everything you can do to lighten her suffering, even to end it.

My invitation is that you end your own suffering out of the goodness and dearness and mercy of your own heart. There are universes that you may be missing, universes of wisdom that lie within you, which The Work can open you up to— your own answers to the questions, and the examples of your turnarounds are the key to those universes, the key to a kinder world and all the freedom that is your unlimited birthright.

Here are some of the assumptions/concepts/thoughts taken from your email. I invite you to The Work on them, slowly, meditatively, deeply, and let what arises from within change not only life in your world itself, but the way you see life and experience the joy of what all really is, forever:

“Something terrible has happened”—is it true?

Continue with inquiry (the four questions, turnarounds, and examples) all the way without shortcuts, and continue with the following as well in the same way. The questions are always available at thework.com.

“Your friend lost her 6-year-old girl.”

“It was an accident.”

“She died yesterday.”

“We can protect ourselves and others.”

“There is danger in the world.”

“I cannot love that this happened.”

“The idea of loving that the child died is cruel and cold-hearted.”

This turns around to “The idea of loving that the child died (loving what is) is kind and warm-hearted.” I gave you a few examples above, and I invite you to find more on your own.

Here is another question: “If the universe is friendly, why is the mother better off?” Find examples, and don’t stop until these thoughts are completely downloaded out of your dearest heart. Now find examples of where you are better off, and why the world is better off, and don’t stop until you have awakened yourself to what is, the unlimited and kind. And continue to allow your open mind to join, to match, the real nature of all things, the universe and all that is kind without exception.

The way some people move from accepting what is to actually loving it is to do The Work. You asked for help and all I have to offer you is already within you, waiting to be realized, and I invite you to answer these four questions as deeply as you can and find the turnarounds and examples that lie within, the ones that matter, the ones that ring true to your heart, not your fear and resistance.

In deepest love with yours,

Thanks for Your Support

Here is a letter from a young woman who was falling into despair.

Your generous donations to the Work Foundation allow me to offer her (and so many people like her) scholarships to the School for The Work and Turnaround House, and I am so very grateful for that.


I am writing you because I am very close to giving up. My best friend told me about The Work. I am suffering from a deep depression and binge eating. This has been going on for three solid years now. I have had much trauma in my young life. Everything from surviving the Columbine Massacre to rape, to abuse, to self destruction. I keep trying to run from it, but I can’t run from me. What I need from you is a scholarship for the 28 day Turnaround House program. I don’t have 20,000 dollars. I have a little money in savings. But not enough. I am so scared that I am going to just give up. I need help. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks, S.

Again, thank you, family, for supporting this Work as it enters the lives of so many families.
Love, kt

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.

Letter: “My son will soon be dead”


I am still suffering with the thought that my son, who has a brain tumor, will soon be dead. I think of reasons why that would be good in this friendly universe, like then he, who has never seemed happy to me, will be in more peace. What money I have left will be all mine. I will have no children left to worry about or see in pain or laughter. My other son (whom you did TW on with me back at my first school in Oct 2006) drowned at 18 months. In that School I looked at the worst thing that could happen, that I would lose this other son, and now it is happening. Oh yes, another good thing about the last son dying, he won’t have to watch me get old and die.

When I imagine what it would be without the thought that he will soon be dead, and turn it around, that I will soon be dead, I feel a shift. I think I love him, and I notice I love myself more and it’s myself I’m really concerned about in all this. I want him to be fixed and safe so I will be fixed and safe. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen and I’m Working on it happening…with me being fixed and safe.

I do The Work constantly and am getting peaceful off and on. Then I see he is not happy and my resistance to “what is” gives me deep pain.

I notice now that my peacefulness seems to be tied like a stock chart to his state of comfort. When he says “Mom, I’m not worth $1500 a month for chemo” I die. I can’t feel prepared yet for his death. I want to pass onto the other side of this but I don’t yet no how. Thanks for being there, Katie.

Peace and Love,

Dearest JJ,

You do “yet” know how, The Work works when your dear mind is open to “what is next”. You’re not prepared for his death yet, is it true?

It sounds like your not prepared for his LIFE yet, he isn’t dead, he is still living!!!!!! The dead or dying son in your heads image is not your son, it is an image. You are trading your sons life now, for images of death, not your sons life and it is “killing” your time with him and your life with him in joy. He has a right to believe that he is “not worth it”, listen to him, he has a right to his opinion and it doesn’t mean that he isn’t worth everything to you, you can still honor his opinion. You don’t have to agree, your opinion is your business unless you think that his life is not worth $1500. per mo and maybe you don’t sense you don’t believe that he is going to live anyway, and in an odd way it is understandable that the mind would take you there.

I love you JJ, don’t let your unquestioned mind cost you one minute with that darling, dear, dearest son of yours. Is it sadness that you are feeling or love? Isn’t it love, feel it as deeply as you can, let it live in you, allow it, let it cry you, take you over even, its okay, love is all powerful. Don’t confuse feelings that you believe to be sadness with what love feels like, my dearest. I am with you, ask him to hold you for me.

with all of my heart,

Update: The Work in Mexico


Dear Katie,

I’ve been in Mexico for the past 13 days and we’ve given 3 workshops of The Work ever since. One in the city of Puebla and two in the city of Cuernavaca. This weekend we are giving another two day workshop here in Puebla.

It has been beautiful!

One story in particular I wanted to tell you about is the story of M, a psychologist who was very interested in The Work. She came to our first workshop because she had been suffering from pain in her face and head for 16 years. She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and much later was told it was the wrong diagnosis. She took anti-depressants for 15 years, and came to the workshop “desperate.”

In the first day of the workshop, participants went home with a homework of doing a ‘self facilitation worksheet’ on a thought. On the second day they return to talk about their experience of doing The Work by themselves. M shared that the night before as she did her Work on herself, she found that she has been frustrated for 20 years because she didn’t marry the man she loved and married another man instead. Amazed at what she discovered, she told us that, for the first time in 16 years, she didn’t wake up with pain and was filled with joy. Even her face was completely transformed. She never thought she could find a tool that could free her from her pain and she was relieved to learn that didn’t need a specialist to “fix” her.

I talked with M today and her pain has been gone ever since.

Big hug to you,

Mariana den Hollander is a certified facilitator of The Work

A Note from Helsinki

Dear Byron Katie,

This might be old news for you, but I found that two groundbreaking Stanford University pain syndrome experts consider Byron Katie’s approach the best form of Cognitive Therapy.

In the new Revised 5th Edition of A Headache in the Pelvis (pp.326-330), that came out in May 2008, Stanford psychologist David Wise Ph.D. and neurourologist Rodney Anderson, M.D. refer to Albert Ellis’ Rational-Emotive Therapy and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy and then write (in their italics):

“The best form of Cognitive Therapy is, in our opinion, is offered in the work of Byron Katie who provides an approach to disarming catastrophic thinking by means of a process that one can do oneself. This is the approach that we recommend.”

They then describe the procedure adding: “Our description of this process is rarely sufficient to become proficient at it. We discuss this method in our monthly 6-day clinics. Information specifically about this cognitive therapy work can be found at www.thework.org and the books of Byron Katie.”

Wise and Anderson are practical “in the trenches” therapists who work daily with severe pelvic pain and other chronic syndromes . They recommended Byron Katie’s method already in the 4th edition of the book (pp. 298-301).

I am happy to tell that my friend Ms. Essi Tolonen will be able to make true her long-held dream — Essi will attend the 2008 School in Germany in two weeks. Many people here in Finland are already eagerly waiting for what she will tell us about the School.

All the best to you and your wonderful work

J. V.
Helsinki, Finland