Inquiry: “My Partner Left Me…”

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.

Participant: Yes.

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?

Participant: Yes.

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.

Activism and The Work

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.

E-mail from Brian in the UK

Thank you for allowing me to share this with our readers, Brian.

Dear Katie

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,

Brian

Anxiety – The Beginning of Wisdom

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.

Whose Business Are You In?

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?”

What’s the difference between the School for The Work and The Work?

I just received an email with this question: “What’s the difference between the School for The Work and The Work?”

The Work is offered at no charge through, thework.com web site, and the booklet, The Work of Byron Katie, An Introduction – The Little Book.

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.

Doing The Work: A Facilitation Guide

Use the following four questions and sub-questions to investigate a stressful belief-for example, “My mother doesn’t love me.” (Some of the sub-questions may not apply.)

1. Is it true?

(Close your eyes,be still, go deeply as you contemplate your answer.
If your answer is no, continue to Question 3.)

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

– Can you know more than God/reality?
Can you really know what’s best in the long Work run for his/her/your own path?
– Can you absolutely know that you would be happier if you got what you wanted?

3. How do you react when you think that thought? (When you believe that thought?)

– Where does the feeling hit you, where do you feel it in your body when you believe that thought? How far does the feeling travel? Describe it.
– What pictures do you see when you believe that thought? Watch it, be still, notice.
– When did that thought first occur to you?
– How do you treat others when you believe that thought? What do you say to them? What do you do? Whom does your mind attack and how? Be specific.
– How do you treat yourself when you believe that thought? Is this where addictions kick in and you reach for food, alcohol, credit cards, the TV remote? Do thoughts of self-hatred occur? What are they?
– How have you lived your life because you believed that thought? Be specific. Close your eyes, watch your past.
– Does this thought bring peace or stress into your life?
– Where does your mind travel when you believe that thought? (List any underlying beliefs, and inquire later.)
– Whose business are you in when you think that thought?
– What do you get for holding onto that belief?
– Can you find a peaceful reason to keep that thought?
– What terrible thing do you assume would happen if you didn’t believe that thought? Write down the terrible thought, and turn it around to the opposite and test it for yourself – is the opposite as true or truer?

4. Who would you be without the thought?

– How ewould you live life differently if you didn’t believe that thought? Close your eyes and imagine life without it.
Imagine you are meeting this person for the very first time with no story. What do you see?
– Who are you right now, sitting here without that thought?

Turn the thought around.

(Statements can be turned around to yourself, to the other, to the opposite, and to “my thinking,” wherever it applies. Find a minimum of three genuine examples in your life where each turnaround is as true as or truer than your original statement.)

– If you lived this turnaround, what would you do, or how would you live your life, differently?
– Do you see any other turnarounds that seem as true or truer?

The turnarounds allow you to see the best course of action for you.

The key to experiencing The Work is to go beyond the quick answers of the intellect and tap into a deeper wisdom. Ask, then be still and wait for an inner voice to respond. With practice, this will become easier. You will learn to rely on yourself—not the world—to see what’s true for you.

Get free resources at www.thework.com

The Work 101

The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.

If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up at you and say, “Meow.” Wanting reality to be different than it is is hopeless. You can spend the rest of your life trying to teach a cat to bark.

And yet, if you pay attention, you’ll notice that you think thoughts like this dozens of times a day. “People should be kinder.” “Children should be well-behaved.” “My neighbors should take better care of their lawn.” “The line at the grocery store should move faster.” “My husband (or wife) should agree with me.” “I should be thinner (or prettier or more successful).” These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is. If you think that this sounds depressing, you’re right. All the stress that we feel is caused by arguing with what is.

People new to The Work often say to me, “But it would be disempowering to stop my argument with reality. If I simply accept reality, I’ll become passive. I may even lose the desire to act.” I answer them with a question: “Can you really know that that’s true?” Which is more empowering? — “I wish I hadn’t lost my job” or “I lost my job; what can I do now?”

The Work reveals that what you think shouldn’t have happened should have happened. It should have happened because it did, and no thinking in the world can change it. This doesn’t mean  that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance and without the confusion of your inner struggle. No one wants their children to get sick, no one wants to be in a car accident; but when these things happen, how can it be helpful to mentally argue with them? We know better than to do that, yet we do it, because we don’t know how to stop.

I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. We can know that reality is good just as it is, because when we argue with it, we experience tension and frustration. We don’t feel natural or balanced. When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.

To learn more about the Work and how to live a fearless life, visit: The Work
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