If I had a prayer, it would be this:
“God, spare me from the desire
for love, approval, or appreciation.
If I had a prayer, it would be this:
“God, spare me from the desire
for love, approval, or appreciation.
Participant: I’m hurt by K****, my partner, because he left me.
Katie: So “He left you”—is that true?
Participant: Not really; in my heart he is there all the time.
Katie: So how do you react when you think the thought “He left me”? What happens? You’re living your life, you’re very happy, and then the thought hits, “Crrrrgh!”—“He left me.”
Participant: I feel inferior, or worthless. I feel very much alone, helpless, and I just don’t know what to do.
Katie: And I would put “I don’t know what to do” on a separate piece of paper, and Work it later. So, “He left me”—who would you be without that thought? Who are you without that thought as you live your life?
Participant: I feel free, secure, content.
Katie: So close your eyes. Now watch you, going to the market, doing the dishes, without the thought “He left me.” What do you see? Watch your life.
Participant: I see many people, and I join with them in a very good time, and I have freedom inside.
Katie: Yes, you have your life back.
Katie: “He left me”—turn it around.
Participant: I left him.
Katie: So when you were with him, give me examples of how you would leave him when you were with him.
Participant: For a long period of time, I didn’t think of him. I had intimate situations with others. I didn’t feel well with him.
Katie: Yes…yes. So you’re just like him! “He left me”—can you find another turnaround?
Participant: He didn’t leave me?
Katie: Yes. You love him; he’s in your heart. Can you find another turnaround?
Participant: I left him in my thoughts.
Katie: Yes, and I found one, would you like to hear it?
Katie: “I left myself.”
Participant: Yes. This is true.
Katie: When you mentally go into his life and who he should be with, you leave you. You move into a dictatorship, and that’s very painful, running people’s lives, and telling them who they should be with, and who they shouldn’t be with. And then you feel that. It’s the opposite of caring and love. Thank you, precious.
Participant: Thank you.
Find your own worksheet, here.
Here’s an excerpt from chapter 29 of my new book A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are:
If you have a problem with people or with the state of the world, I invite you to put your stressful thoughts on paper and question them, and to do it for the love of truth, not in order to save the world. Turn it around: save your own world. Isn’t that why you want to save the world in the first place? So that you can be happy? Well, skip the middleman, and be happy from here! You’re it. You’re the one. In this turnaround you remain active, but there’s no fear in it, no internal war. So it ceases to be war trying to teach peace. War can’t teach peace. Only peace can.
I don’t try to change the world—not ever. The world changes by itself, and I’m a part of that change. I’m absolutely, totally, a lover of what is. When people ask me for help, I say yes. We inquire, and they begin to end their suffering, and in that they begin to end the suffering of the world.
I stand in my own truth and don’t presume to know what’s best for the planet. Knowing that the world is perfect doesn’t mean that you withdraw or stop doing what you know is right for you to do. If, for example, you’re concerned about the environment, please give us all the facts. Do a whole study of it, go to graduate school if you have to, help us out here. And if you talk to us clearly, without an agenda or any investment in the results, we can hear you, because you’re on our level. You’re not talking to us from a superior, I-know position. If you know that we’re all equal, that we’re all doing the best we can, you can be the most powerful activist on the planet.
Love is the power. I know only one way to be an activist who can really penetrate the human race, and that is to give the facts, to tell your experience honestly, and to love without condition. You can’t convince the world of anything, even if it’s for the world’s own good, because eventually your righteousness will be seen through, and then you’re on a stage debating a corporate polluter, and you start pointing your finger in outrage. That’s what you’ve been hiding when you believe “I know what’s best for the planet.”
When you attack a corporate official for destroying the atmosphere, however valid your information, do you think that he’ll be open to what you’re saying? You’re threatening him with your attitude, and the facts can get lost, because you’re coming from fear and righteous anger. All he’ll hear is that you think he’s doing it wrong, it’s his fault, and he’ll go into denial and resistance. But if you speak to him without stress, in total confidence that everything is just the way it should be in this very moment, you’re able to express yourself kindly, effectively, and with no fear about the future.
By the way, the Dutch version of the book is called Katie’s Tao.
Thank you for allowing me to share this with our readers, Brian.
I just wanted to write to you to say thank you for sharing The Work. I am enjoying exploring this amazing process, and I’m feeling positive changes in my life already as a result. I want to deepen my practice, and am moving forward every day with it.
Just yesterday, I had a profound experience of The Work, after a difficult argument with my partner. It was amazing – I started from a position of such blazing anger, such self-righteousness, such belligerent indignance…and then I did The Work, and I felt all of that dissolve, leaving a humbling and beautiful sense of responsibility, compassion, and love. It felt as though I had traveled through time – the “calming down” period that would normally take a day or more, took only a few minutes. And it was more than just “calming”, the natural settling down after a storm…it was like the storm clouds were actually clearing, leaving just the light and the fresh air. What a beautiful gift.
I very much hope to join you at an event in the near future – I live in the UK, and will certainly be looking out for any events near here which you scheduled in. I would love for you to come to England again…
With best wishes and much gratitude to you, in Love,
An uncomfortable feeling is not an enemy.
It’s a gift that says, “Get honest; inquire.”
We reach out for alcohol, or television, or credit cards, so we can focus out there and not have to look at the feeling. And that’s as it should be, because in our innocence we haven’t known how.
So now what we can do is reach out for a paper and a pencil, write the thought down, and investigate.
Here’s a dialog from this (hot) summer in Europe:
Participant: I’m angry at ***** because she didn’t give me the job.
Katie: “She didn’t give you the job”—is that true?
Katie: Yes. She either gave you the job, or she didn’t. So the answer’s yes.
Katie: So how do you react when you think that thought—”She didn’t give me the job”? What happens when you believe it? What happens to your body, what happens to your mind?
Participant: The mind begins to think very fast, I should have learned to know her, it’s my fault, I should have seen it from the first beginning, I should not have been so engaged; self-reproach.
Katie: So you re-live the past. That thought is how you keep your life lived in the past with no awareness of this moment now. To believe that thought is how you live in the present – how your body lives in the present, but your mind isn’t here. You’re lost in a very painful dream of a past, with shame and guilt and blame. So, close your eyes, and look at your life, exactly as you live it, only without the thought—“She didn’t give me the job.”
Participant: I enjoy meeting other theatre people and to expand, and to meet people, enjoy…
Katie: Yes, well that’s your job. That’s your job, isn’t that the one you love? The important one?
Participant: Yes…yes. Yes.
Katie: So “She didn’t give me the job”—turn it around?
Participant: I didn’t give myself the job.
Katie: Yes, the job that you love. So give you your job back…to love life, and being in theatre, with people you love to be with, and happy life. And when you see her, thank her. It freed you up to do this job. And the next time there’s an audition, show up! Who knows? Especially if it’s hers.
Participant [laughing]: Yes.
Katie: What else did you write?
Participant: She should have given me the job.
Katie: Is that true?
Katie: So turn it around?
Participant: She shouldn’t have given me the job.
Katie: So if the universe is friendly, why is it better that you did not, that she did not give you the job? Why is your life better because of it?
Participant: I can look at my fears. They are always underneath, and now they really crop up. It’s not so comfortable, and I feel that it’s on my way now…and that this is my job.
Katie: Yes. It certainly freed you up for that. You might send her a thank you note, and tell her that you loved the audition, you learned more than you could ever thank her for, and next time she’s holding one, to please let you know. This gives you such a close intimate experience with her. It’s wonderful to be close to the people who give us what we really want, whether we know it or not.
Katie: Thank you.
Participant: Thank you.
You can do The Work here.
Terrorism at the World Trade Center: A Dialogue in Cambridge, September 13, 2001
I was scheduled to be in New York on 9/11/01. The morning I was to travel from Long Island, the planes hit the towers, bridges were closed and highways shut down before I could enter the city. I was free, however, to get to my event in Cambridge two days later. I worked with a woman who was terrified. She gave voice to the fears that many people were feeling. Amazingly, by the end of our dialogue, she was smiling. Her whole attitude had changed. Stephen and I wanted to include this dialogue in Loving What Is, but our publisher said that it was too hard for most people to believe. They wouldn’t accept that such a major transformation could happen so quickly.
Sometimes we get stuck in the prison of our own mind…
Become mindful of how often your conversations focus on the past or future.
Be aware of the verbs you use: was, did, will, are going to, etc. To speak of the past in the present is to reawaken and recreate it fully in the present, if only in our minds, and then we are lost to what is present for us now. To speak of the future is to create and live with a fantasy.
If you want to experience fear, think of the future.
If you want to experience shame and guilt, think of the past.
Just focus on the dishes in front of you.
“Doing the dishes” is a practice of learning to love the action that is in front of you. Your inner voice or intuition guides you all day long to do simple things such as doing the dishes, driving to work, or sweeping the floor. Allow the sanctity of simplicity. Listening to your inner voice and then acting on its suggestions with implicit trust creates a life that is more graceful, effortless, and miraculous.
The miracle of now.
Notice when you hurt that you are mentally out of your business.
If you’re not sure, stop and ask, “Mentally, whose business am I in?”
There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.
Whose business is it if an earthquake happens? God’s business.
Whose business is it if your neighbor down the street has an ugly lawn? Your neighbor’s business.
Whose business is it if you are angry at your neighbor down the street because he has an ugly lawn? Your business.
Life is simple—it is internal.
Count, in five minute intervals, how many times you are in someone else’s business mentally. Notice when you give uninvited advice or offer your opinion about something (aloud or silently).
Ask yourself: “Am I in their business? Did they ask me for my advice?” And more importantly, “Can I take the advice I am offering and apply it to my life?”
The AARP article about The Work is timely, in a way.
I’m 63, and I accept it.
But not everyone accepts their age. What stress do you experience when you think your body should be different than it is, or when you think someone else should take better care of their body, and they don’t?
Who would you be without that thought?
Read the article, “Quit Your Pain” here.
I just received an email with this question: “What’s the difference between the School for The Work and The Work?”
The School for The Work on the other hand, is a nine-day event. It’s for people who are tired of their suffering, people who long for freedom, who really want to know the truth and are ready for peace.
In the School for The Work, I take people through every nightmare I ever experienced. (No nightmare is foreign; we carry them all inside us.) I show them how to walk themselves through everyone of their own fears, until they are confident that they have the key to the end of their own suffering alive within them. If they have a problem, real or imagined (all problems are imagined), we work with it. I take them into the depths of hell and out again. We travel. All are welcome, and I love that my staff is entirely made up of earlier participants in The School.
Imagine the most painful experiences you’ve ever had—with your parents, your partner, your friends, your children.
Now imagine your life without that pain.
How would things be different? What if you no longer felt attached to your fears, your self-judgments, or your disappointments? What if, for the rest of your life, you couldn’t play the victim, and you even welcomed problems?
The School makes this a possibility. Only you can decide how The School will change your life. The deeper you go in, the more your world changes.
On the first evening, I sometimes ask the participants what they want to take home from The School. They say things like “I want peace of mind” or “I want to be free” or “I want to be a more loving person” or “I want to be less anxious about my problems” or “I want to be less self-absorbed” or “I want to live without fear” or “I want to be happy, whether I have a lover or not.”
By the end of The School, they all say that they have found a way of to end their suffering, and that they got even more than what they originally wanted. People come out so changed that their families are entirely grateful and often astounded. The Work has awakened within every participant who comes with an open mind, and there is nothing that they can do to shut it down. Once the four questions are alive inside you, your mind becomes clear, and therefore the world you project becomes clear. This is more radical than anyone can possibly imagine.
You can listen to an clip in which staff members, a recent graduate of The School, and I answer questions about the School for The Work. I facilitate The Work with a women on her anger at God and with a man on his frustration with his wife’s blaming.
For more information about when the next School for The Work is, check out our events page.
The following dialog appears in Loving What Is.
NOTE: Byron Katie’s response to reader comments on this post may be read here>>
Mary, reading the statements from her Worksheet: I hate my husband because he drives me crazy — everything about him, including the way he breathes. What disappoints me is that I don’t love him anymore and our relationship is a charade. I want him to be more successful, to not want to have sex with me, to get in shape, to get a life outside of me and the children, to not touch me anymore, and to be powerful. My husband shouldn’t fool himself that he’s good at our business. He should create more success. My husband is a wimp. He’s needy, and lazy. He’s fooling himself. I refuse to keep living a lie. I refuse to keep living my relationship as an imposter.
Katie: Does that pretty well sum it up? [The audience bursts into laughter, and Mary laughs along with them.] By the sound of the laughter, it seems as though you speak for a lot of people in this room. So, let’s start at the top and see if we can begin to understand what going on.
Mary: I hate my husband because he drives me crazy — everything about him, including the way he breathes.
Katie: “Your husband drives you crazy” — is it true? [This is the first of the four questions: Is it true?]