Day 17: Loving What is

Yes I’ve been avoiding this one, as it is massive. And a Sunday night on my own with a big Monday meeting tomorrow is a good opportunity to finally address it.

Byron Katie, after a spell of debilitating unhappiness, came up with a very simple method of snapping out of a negative way of thinking. She says, ‘I discovered that when I believed my thoughts I suffered, but when I didn’t believe them I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always. And I invite you not to believe me. I invite you to test it for yourself.’

She has written a whole book on the subject, which is gorgeously shared for free as an audiobook, and which I have listened to the entirety of in the last couple of days. I – very excitingly – have had an actual commission for some artwork (!) so I have had the soothing lovely voice of Byron Katie in my earphones while I spent several hours drawing intricate little images.

The book is full of real life conversations with people – deeply distressed people – in which their incredibly difficult stories are heard, and then gently questioned with what Byron Katie calls ‘The Work’, which essentially boils down to this:

If you’re feeling rubbish, look at the thought that is making you feel bad, and ask yourself these questions about it:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can I really know that it is true?
  3. How do I react when I believe this thought?
  4. Who would I be without this thought?
  5. Then explore other thoughts that might be true instead, via the simple method of ‘the turnaround.’

Because Byron Katie is a beautiful human, she shares all her information and resources for free, complete with worksheets, here. For purposes of research, and to get to the bottom of some very deeply held beliefs, I will complete this worksheet now on my recurring negative thought.

[I can’t work out how to change text colour so the worksheet words are in bold and mine in normal]

Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet
THE WORK OF BYRON KATIE© © 2019 Byron Katie International, Inc. All rights reserved. thework.com
6 Feb. 2019
Think of a stressful situation with someone—for example, an argument. As you meditate on that specific time and place and begin to feel what that felt like, fill in the blanks below. Use short, simple sentences.

  • ONE: In this situation, who angers, confuses, hurts, saddens, or disappoints you, and why?
    I am ANGRY/HURT/SAD with NAME because (eg: I am angry with Paul because he lied to me).
  • I am angry at the church for fucking up my life (I’ll start with an easy one ey) (Also, I have done a lot of work on getting over this, understanding the circumstances and finding love and compassion for the members who were responsible for carrying out the ridiculous instructions around the ‘sacrifice’ and abandonment of children, but I know there is some lingering resentment so for this exercise I will go right into that)
    TWO: WANTS
  • In this situation, how do you want him/her to change? What do you want him/her to do?
    I want the church to give me back the years I wasted, my heart they broke, my psychology they fucked up, the money they took from me, and everyone else. Please.
    THREE: ADVICE.
  • In this situation, what advice would you offer him/her? “He/she should/shouldn’t…”
    They shouldn’t be allowed to carry on. They shouldn’t have done that to us. They should be held accountable for the damage caused to everyone.
    FOUR: NEEDS.
  • In order for you to be happy in this situation, what do you need him/her to think, say, feel, or do?
    I need them to apologise and make it back to a LOT of people (this is where the tears are) and stop it now please.
    FIVE: COMPLAINTS.
  • What do you think of him/her in this situation? Make a list. (It’s okay to be petty and judgmental.)
    The church is a terrible manipulative destructive organisation. They abused the genuine good nature and idealistic passion of all those members to build an awful empire of money and power, at the cost of the youth, health and wellbeing of all their exhausted manipulated members.
  • SIX.
  • What is it about this person and situation that you don’t ever want to experience again?
    I don’t ever want to be frightened by lies into being controlled and manipulated by anyone again

    Now question each of your statements, using the four questions of The Work, below. For the turnaround to statement 6, replace the words I don’t ever want… with I am willing to… and I look forward to…
    The four questions
    Example: Paul lied to me.
  • 1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to question 3.)
  • 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
  • 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  • 4. Who or what would you be without the thought?
    Turn the thought around.
    I lied to me.
    I lied to Paul.
    Paul didn’t lie to me.
    Paul told me the truth.
    As you visualize the situation, contemplate how each turnaround is as true or truer

ONE: The church fucked my life up.

  • 1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to question 3.) Yes
  • 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.) No
  • 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I am angry
  • 4. Who or what would you be without the thought? Less angry. At peace. Full of love for the church and its members. And myself.
  • Turn the thought around. I fucked my life up. I fucked the church up [Hmm. I see where this is going]

TWO: I want the church to give me back the years I wasted, my heart they broke, my psychology they fucked up, the money they took from me, and everyone else. Please.

  • 1. Is it true [that the church broke my heart etc]? (Yes or no. If no, move to question 3.) It feels like it is
  • 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.) No
  • 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I’m angry. So angry. I feel hurt, betrayed, resentful.
  • 4. Who or what would you be without the thought? Peaceful. Loving. Letting go and moving on.
    5. Turn the thought around
    : I want ME to give me back my life. I want ME to give me back the heart I broke, the money I took from me, and everyone else. [Well, that’s an interesting thought. It arrives in my brain like a new flush of clean water. What if it’s not the church’s job to free me of this pain, but my own? Hmm]

THREE: They shouldn’t be allowed to carry on. They shouldn’t have done that to us. They should be held accountable for the damage caused to everyone.

  • 1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to question 3.) [I see where this is going] No.
  • 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? Outraged, vengeful. Hurt
  • 4. Who or what would you be without the thought? Stronger. Less afraid
    Turn the thought around.
    I shouldn’t be allowed to carry on. I shouldn’t have done that to us. I should be held accountable for the damage caused to everyone.

FOUR: I need them to apologise and make it back to a LOT of people (this is where the tears are) and stop it now please.

  • 1. Is it true? Of course not
  • 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel like a child in a rage
  • 4. Who or what would you be without the thought? A grown up
    Turn the thought around.
    I need ME to apologise and make it back to a LOT of people and stop it now please. [Well. Well now. A very different set of tears has arrived with this turnaround. I think I’m going to have to sit with this one a while].

FIVE: The church is a terrible manipulative destructive organisation. They abused the genuine good nature and idealistic passion of all those members to build an awful empire of money and power, at the cost of the youth, health and wellbeing of all their exhausted manipulated members.

  • 1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to question 3.) Yes
  • 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.) No
  • 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel like a victim, helpless. Scared.
  • 4. Who or what would you be without the thought? Healthy
    Turn the thought around.
    I am a terrible manipulative destructive person. I abused the genuine good nature and idealistic passion of myself to build an awful empire of money and power, at the cost of the youth, health and wellbeing of my exhausted manipulated self. [Ah bloody hell the tears. As soon as the thought crosses my mind that it’s my responsibility, that I did this to myself, that I played a part in the manipulation and deception – I mean I know I did, because I was the flipping youth leader. I continued the lies to the little kids, I did to the youngsters what I so resent having been done to me. Sure it wasn’t my fault, but I have to acknowledge that I did that too. But what I did to the kids is a separate thing compared to what I did to myself. Oh dear lord the tears! So much emotion at this recognition. And it’s tears of relief because I can be responsible now, for not continuing to do that to myself. Good lord this stuff is powerful. Unsettling. Rearranging.]

Well that was interesting.

When Byron Katie does it she sits with the person and goes through all this with them, rephrasing each question so it’s relevant, allowing space for the tears or anger, and every time, by the end, the person is laughing. It is a very clever process, of getting you to really feel all that hurt and anger and pain, really vent all your darkest thoughts about another person or situation, and then, with complete love and acceptance, to turn it around and see that a completely opposite statement can be equally true. And all the time the concept is about letting go of blame (as you can do nothing with it) and accept your responsibility as that is the only bit you can change. And then how beautifully liberating it is because you are in control, instead of some outside force that has been dominating your hurt and frightened thoughts.

I have a lot to think about now. I may need to explore all this further. I guess the idea of The Work is that you build it into your thinking so that every time a frustration or a fearful thought kicks in you question it. ‘Can I really know that it is true?’ And usually, it’s just a story in your head, based on something that was put there forever ago.

And my recurring anxiety, it makes sense that it’s tangled up in the church, and my deeply ingrained sense of fear and helplessness at the hands of this vast anonymous (largely invisible) organisation. This overpowering fear about everything that was the story in my head since I was a kid. Can I really know that it’s true? NO! I know it’s not! How wonderful is that?!

How wonderful indeed. I need to go and have a proper cry now.

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