Thursday, 23 December 2010

Does the Byron Katie stuff only work if your turnaround is totally believable to you?

Source/copyright: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia

I got this question in the mail, and in writing the answer decided it would be worth posting it up here as well. Clearly, I am not Byron Katie and I don't own The Work. Her material is available at and I have referenced it a few times now on this blog.

Think of Katie's stuff as an exploration of truth - your truth. It won't work for someone who is not going to go with it with an open mind, because they have already made up their minds. It similarly will be very much less effective if you try to approach it like some kind of tool to "fix" something. So, to answer your question, yes, it works when your turnaround is believable to you, but that is when you can find examples. It doesn't ONLY work via the turnaround. The questions are enough, sometimes.

Is it true? As Katie says, there are only two answers - yes or no. There is no "but if..." or "yes but..." or "in this situation..." You already have the "yes" in you. We are giving equal opportunity to the no, to see if it is true for us. It is not coercing the mind, and if you do that you'll find it won't work.

Can you absolutely know it is true? Look in again and check. This is where Katie can get some flak from people just coming to the work, because it looks like we are trying to make you say "no". It's not. It's just saying, check your reality map. If it's true for you then by all means stick with it. Go with what you feel. Close your eyes and see if it is true. All that is being asked is that you stay in your integrity.

How do you react when you think that thought? This is an education into how you react when you believe something to be true. Is it worth the pain and misery?

Can you find a single stress-free reason to keep that thought? This is a question she throws in sometimes. I heard a really nice variation of it once - give me one single peaceful reason to keep that thought. And if that reason makes you feel pain, it is NOT stress-free.

Who would you be without that thought? This is research. It is research into what you are outside that thought. Or, as I put it, thought on - pain, thought off - no pain. We're not trying to submerge it or anything. We are simply recognising that reality that the thought creates pain, and without it the confusion lifts, and so does the suffering.

The turnaround can be broken into three parts - to the self, to the other and to the opposite.

"He is a selfish jerk."

1.) To the self - "I am a selfish jerk (especially when thinking about him)."
2.) To the other - doesn't apply here.
3.) To the opposite - "He is not a selfish jerk."

The turnaround is again an exploration of your truth. You don't kick a turnaround under the rug if it just doesn't ring true at first. You write it down and think about it. Give it equal airing time to see if it is as true or truer than your original statement. Then you start finding examples.

- "I am a selfish jerk around him." Look at your answers to the question about how you react when you think that thought. How do you act around him? Do you pout, become quiet, react? If you took away that thought, you would meet the person for the very first time, not the person you are constructing in your mind. Which is why Katie likes to say that "no two people have ever met". We're all reacting in our minds. And when you act that way, do you think it provokes him to act that way?
- "He is not a selfish jerk." Take your mind away from just the one or two instances it is replaying. Now look at examples of when he is not selfish. You will find them. We are never completely one way or another. The thought provokes us to look at it with a biased mind.

The trick is to approach this with an open mind, a passion in finding the truth, even if it turns out to be what you didn't think it was. If you approach this just wanting to "fix" something, or if you try to force an answer that doesn't work for you, the work is unlikely to succeed.

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