Byron Katie , the founder of The Work, has one job: to teach people how to end their own suffering.
Byron Katie is the now famous author of the book “ Four Questions That Change Your Life .” The method that revolves around these four questions is ideally suited to dealing with stressful and negative thoughts. And it’s really simple! In the words of Byron himself:
“It’s not the problem that causes our suffering, it’s our thinking about that problem.”
eg the thought that your neighbor has it out for you or a colleague is a lazy ass who walks around the edges. In a year you will be begging. Your loved one is about to leave you. If you lose this job, you’ll never get another job. And so on.
These are some probably recognizable fantasies. Negative thoughts that create stress and seriously undermine your enjoyment of life. It is a mechanism that is part of life: uncertainties sometimes lead to thoughts of doom. They usually have nothing to do with reality. But you do suffer.
The Work is a simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to recognize and examine the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It is a way to understand what hurts you and to face your problems clearly.
People who practice The Work for longer say that the result is that it has changed their lives.
- Depression Reduction: Find solutions and even happiness in situations that previously exhausted you.
- Stress Reduction: Learn to live with less worry or anxiety.
- Enhanced Relationships: Experience a deeper connection and intimacy with your partner, your parents, your children, your friends and yourself.
- Reduced Anger: Understand what makes you angry and resentful, react less quickly, less often and less violently.
- More mental clarity: live and work more intelligently and effectively and with integrity.
- More energy: experience a new sense of lasting strength and well-being.
- More peace: discover how to become a ‘lover of what is’.
For thousands of years we have been told not to judge. Yet we still do it; how our friends should do, what our children should care about, what our parents should feel, do or say. Instead of suppressing them, we use these judgments in The Work as starting points for self-realization . By entrusting the judgmental mind to the paper we discover, in the mirror that others hold up to us, what we have not yet realized.Test yourself on the spot. To begin with, choose your ‘favourite’ (?) negative thought or belief, and formulated it as clearly as possible for yourself. Put it on paper.
Now you are ready to unleash the four questions.
The Four Questions
The Work is a meditation. It’s about awareness, not about changing your mind. Ask the questions, then take your time, turn inside yourself and wait for deeper answers to surface.
In its basic form, The Work consists of four questions and an inversion . For example, the first thought you can explore is ‘Paul isn’t listening to me’. Find someone in your life that you’ve had this thought about and then let’s do The Work.
‘(Name) doesn’t listen to me’
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know it’s true?
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
After you’ve researched your statement with the four questions, you’re ready to turn it around (the thought you’re questioning).
turn it around
Each reversal is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement and to see what you and the person you judged have in common.
A statement can be reversed to the opposite, to the other and to yourself (and sometimes, where appropriate, to ‘my thinking’). Find at least three real examples in your life where every reversal is true.
For example , “Paul doesn’t understand me” can be reversed to “Paul understands me.” Another inversion is, “I don’t understand Paul.” A third is: ‘I don’t understand myself.’
Be creative with the reversals. They are revelations. Reflected in others, they show you unseen aspects of yourself. Once you’ve found a reversal, go in and feel it. Find at least three real examples where the reversal is true for you in your life.
As I began to live my inversions, I found that I was everything I called you. You were just my projection. Now, instead of trying to change the world around you, you can put your thoughts on paper, examine them, invert them and discover that I am exactly who I thought you were. The moment I see you as selfish, I am selfish myself (by deciding how you should be). The moment I see you as unkind, I am unkind myself. If I believe you must stop waging war, I myself am waging war against you in my mind.
The reversals are your recipe for happiness. Live the medicine you have prescribed for others. The world is only waiting for one person to live it. That’s you.
Examples of reversals
Here are a few more examples of reversals:
‘ He should understand me’ can be inverted into:
– He should not understand me. (This is the reality.)
– I should understand him.
– I should understand myself.
‘ I need him to be nice to me’ you can turn to:
– I don’t need him to be nice to me.
– I need to be kind to him. (Can I live it?)
– I need to be kind to myself.
‘He is not nice to me’ can be turned into:
– He is nice to me. (To the best of his ability.)
– I’m not nice to him. (Can I find that?)
– I’m not nice to myself. (When I’m not doing research.)
‘Paul shouldn’t yell at me’ you can turn to:
– Paul should yell at me. (Apparently, the reality is he does it sometimes. Am I listening?)
– I shouldn’t be yelling at Paul.
– I shouldn’t be yelling at myself.
(In my head I keep turning off Paul’s screaming. Who is more merciful: Paul, who screamed once or I, who played this 100 times?)
After you reverse the judgments in your answers (asking if they are true or more true), reverse number 6 using ‘I am ready…’ and ‘I look forward to it…’.
For example, “ I never want to experience an argument with Paul again” you can reverse to “ I am willing to experience an argument with Paul” and “ Looking forward to experiencing an argument with Paul.” Why should you look forward to it?
Number 6 is about fully embracing all thinking and living without fear, and being open to reality. If you experience another fight with Paul, fine. If it hurts, you can put your thoughts on paper and examine them. Unpleasant feelings only remind us that we are attached to something that may not be true for us. They let us know it’s time to do The Work.
Until you can see your enemy as a friend, your Work is not done. That doesn’t mean you should invite him to dinner. Friendship is an inner experience. You may never see him again, you may even divorce him, but when you think of him, do you feel any stress or peace?
My experience is that it only takes one person to have a successful relationship.
Order the book at Bol.com
In addition to Four Questions That Will Change Your Life, ” Byron Katie has written another delightful book: ‘ I Need Your Love, Is That True? † In her well-known confrontational way, she shatters myths about love, kindly but mercilessly. She writes that her book could also have been called ‘The two great universal lies about love’. Lie 1 is: ‘I have to conquer people to be liked’, and lie 2 is: ‘If you love me you will do what I want’.