Oh no Valentine's day! For many people, including me, this day has come with great suffering. High expectations that are often dashed. Disappointing gifts, gestures, calls, texts and/or lack there of. All the ways we evaluate our worth and come up short... he loves me, he loves me not!
For much of my life, this day has been painful or disappointing in all kinds of ways. I've placed my value in the hands of men who were too reckless or oblivious to care. I longed for someone who would make me feel special, desirable, worthy, interesting and amazing about myself. I also wanted this perfect man to provide me with passion, purpose fun, excitement, adventure as well as stability, safety, security and comfort.
I still want all that but thankfully, I am better able to see how impossible and demanding it is. I am more in a place where my life and happiness do not come from one person, even I am not entirely responsible for my happiness.
It feels much kinder, lighter and freer to know that all I need to do is tap into the feeling of love or even simpler than that, a feeling of curiosity. From this place, I'm not looking for love, I am open. I am no longer trying to get from others, I am noticing what is already here, now. All that matters, am I feeling loving, kind, curious and interested now?
So wherever you are on this Valentine's day, I'll tell you what I'll be doing and if it sounds good to you, you can do it too. I'll be on a treasure hunt... considering what sounds good, compelling, what might be curious or interesting to discover throughout the day. Maybe a special date, even if just a short one alone whether you have a partner or not. Thinking of what would be loving to right now for myself or another? "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." ~Mary Oliver.
To notice the many acts of kindness extended from myself and others at all times. What you appreciate appreciates, so this is what I'll be doing.
A Course In Miracles say's "Let no act of charity, no tiny expression of forgiveness, no little breath of love escape your notice." This Valentine's I'm happy to say, I feel gratitude, excitement and curiosity to consider the day a treasure hunt of opportunities to notice love in all it's forms and to extend love to the best of my ability.
And with that, I wish you a very happy Valentine's Day!
If you are familiar or new to The Work of Byron Katie, you have likely heard of Turn Arounds. So what are they and what are they good for?
A turn around is very simply, the exact opposite statement of a stressful thought you are working with.
Doing The Work of Byron Katie is a very practical and powerful way of working with stressful thoughts. There are just four questions and the Turn Arounds.
We have many stressful thoughts, often thinking other people and situations are the cause of our stress but actually we are upset by our interpretation of the situation and how something or someone "should" be different.
When thinking of someone that bothers us, we get upset and go over all the "bad" and "wrong" things they do in our minds. We could ruminate for hours, days, weeks or years. Feeling anything from mild annoyance to rage and hatred when thinking of them.
If you are upset with someone, you might have the thought "he disrespected me." To do The Work on this thought, you would go back to the situation where you got upset and ask the four questions then do Turn Arounds on the stressful thought "he disrespected me."
For the purpose of this article I will skip the four questions of The Work and focus on the Turn Arounds.
So again, we have the stressful thought "He disrespected me."
Turning this around to the exact opposite would be the following...
Turn Around #1. He did not disrespect me.
Turn Around #2. I disrespected him.
Turn Around #3. I disrespected me.
So that's it. A Turn Around is simply the exact opposite of a stressful belief. And once you have these Turn Arounds, you look for examples of where they are true.
You would go back to that situation where you believed "he disrespected me," and see how is it true or truer that "he did not disrespect me?" This may take some time. Sit with this question until an answer arises. If an answer comes, then look for another and once you found a second example, look for a third where "he did not disrespect me." Keep going if you can find more.
Once you have found at least three solid and true examples of the Turn Around "He did not disrespect me," you can look for three examples of the next turn around.
That's all there is to it. When you have a stressful thought, question it (do The Work with the four questions) then turn it around. Find at least three examples of the opposite.
All this being said, doing The Work of Byron Katie involves asking the four questions first. In no way does The Work suggest you dismiss what your thinking and replace it with different or opposite thoughts. The turn arounds are the last step in the process of The Work.
Small, consistent efforts lead to big changes. Lately I'm seeing the importance of breaking down huge, vague, intentions into small, manageable, specific actions.
I am very clear that limiting beliefs keep me from living a fuller, happier more connected life. I scare myself into non-action. I tell myself it's too hard, I can't do it, I'm not ready, I'm not good enough. These thoughts keep me from trying, they keep me in a safe comfort zone where I don't have to risk failure and rejection. They keep me in the I know mind. I know the outcome. I know where this is going. I know I can't do it... no one cares, people are bad, exploitive and hurtful. I have continuously reinforced and proven thoughts that keep me fearful, miserable and disconnected. How I'm working on that...
The mind! The most powerful two things I know in freeing the mind are meditation and The Work of Byron Katie. These are daily, mandatory practices for me. Other things that have helped are therapy (huge!), mentors, workshops, retreats, 12 step programs, books, talks and being in the presence of inspiring people. I am a tough case and need a lot of help!
Another area where daily work is essential, is the body. A healthy body supports a healthy mind and vice versa. Though I'd much rather have a healthy mind and prefer being in the presence of people with healthy minds over healthy bodies any day! When I exercise, meditate, dance, express and receive affection, eat healthy and tend to my body in consistent and loving ways, I feel happier, lighter and more energetic. Endorphins give me a natural high and I retrain my nervous system to be in a state of rest and digest, tend and befriend rather than fight or flight. My body learns to feel safe, at ease, connected, light and energetic when I treat it well.
In order to take good care of my mental and physical health, steady income and a healthy work life is also important. Doing work I love, being paid well, feeling valued, appreciated and respected by people I work with makes life especially meaningful. I want to contribute, bring my best effort, learn and grow through service and feel like I am making a difference. Supporting myself and others I care about and contributing to things I value are very important to me. Fear, deprivation and shame around money has been my conditioning. Moving from thoughts of scarcity and worthlessness to seeing the abundance, generosity and support that is everywhere in every moment is a huge shift for me.
The final area of consistent attention and action is devoted to my love life. This is one area I have failed repeatedly at. Looking at all the ways I attract what I think I'm worth, all the ways I devalue myself and how the world has reflected that back to me. My conditioning and beliefs around relationships and men have been very painful. I always thought I just didn't deserve being liked or cared for. I had to earn people's approval. This is something I still struggle with.
In most relationships, I have shown up expecting to sacrifice and prove myself for love and approval or expecting to be taken care of so I can be happy. I am learning to let go of the dream that some heroic man will rescue me from the big, bad, scary world and that he will love, value and respect me so that I wont have to.
As with everything else, my love life comes back to working with the mind and the stressful thoughts that I am not good enough. Believing I have inherent value without doing, proving or manipulating people to like me has not been easy. I attract what I think I'm worth and often I've attracted people who reject me as I have rejected myself. Men who don't want the job that I'm trying to evade. The job of loving me.
So this is my work... Mind, body, work-finances and love life. Everything starts with the mind. Right now, I notice where I am and what small, consistent things I can do in each area, every day to overcome limiting beliefs that keep me playing small, separate and fearful. Living a life with greater connection, purpose, courage and love is my intention. I've got a lot of work to do! And yet, another part of me knows there is nothing to do... just relax, enjoy and notice what is going well. Energy flows where attention goes. As I put kind attention on everything in my world, my world becomes a kinder place.
Success is going from failure to failure without loosing your enthusiasm.
My first blog ever! I'm experimenting and not sure what to blog about or if I will blog ever again. Since this is a website on The Work of Byron Katie I will just say that the Work is the most powerful thing I know to release me from stress, fear, anger and other painful mind states.
The more I do the work, the more content, peaceful and happy I become. Where I used to judge, blame and resent others, after doing The Work, I feel more connected and kinder towards everyone. I am starting to experience The Work living in me. The questions arise to meet my stressful thoughts and I often feel instant relief. I still have stressful thoughts, I get discouraged, angry, hurt, resentful, fearful and suffer in many others ways but every time I do the work, I find greater relief and retrain my psyche and nervous system to be at ease, to trust that everything is OK, everything is working out for the greatest good and nothing is ever as bad as my mind would tricks me into believing.
If you are curious or suffering, I highly recommend trying The Work!