I recently took on a thirty day challenge and just completed day three. The assignment was to immerse myself in something I want to learn about or improve on for a prolong and consistent set of time.
I decided to serve on The Institute for The Work's helpline for 10 hours. If you don't know of the helpline, it is an amazing free service for anyone with stressful thoughts... in other words everyone.
Having just completed ten hours on the helpline in the last two days and in all my many hours of doing sessions of The Work with others so far, I've learned that adding the word "sometimes" to our stressful thought can significantly help.
An example of this would be working with the stressful thought "he doesn't listen." When we believe this thought, we are upset. We tend to see everything that confirms this. Images of the past appear where "he didn't listen" and images of the future show a frustrated life of being unheard, misunderstood and dismissed.
We might also see images of where we listened well, all the good we have done for them and think this is the miserable way they treat us in return! Everything we tell ourselves or see confirms they are wrong and bad, we are right and good.
Doing The Work with so many people shows me that we can find greater freedom and relief if we add "sometimes" to our stressful thought.
"He doesn't listen" becomes
"He doesn't listen sometimes"
We can see images in the past where he might listen deeply if he were interested, if it were valuable for him to hear and/or if he felt respected by who was talking to him.
We can also see where
"I don't listen sometimes."
There are times where I am not interested, I don't like how a message is being delivered, I don't understand or I am too focused on my own "stuff" to be able to hear someone else.
In working with a stressful thought, try replacing it with sometimes. See if you feel some relief and freedom around it. Look for examples where sometimes it's like this and sometimes it's not. This stops our confirmation bias and we can then see things that we might have previously been blind to.
Hearing Byron Katie do "The Work" is the most powerful, amazing, liberating, mind blowing thing thing I know. Is it possible to forgive and love anyone who would rape and beat a child? Is it possible that a child who was raped and beaten could overcome such disturbing trauma and know forgiveness and love? Katie says yes and shows us how.
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.
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Success is going from failure to failure without loosing your enthusiasm.
I'm having a beautiful day, productive, meaningful and good in every way... then thoughts appear... "If I don't go to Will Kabat Zinn's meditation group I will miss something important." I'm experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out).
I see images of the past where the Will said such wise, profound, deep things that helped me release an issue I was having or gave me greater clarity on something I was confused about. I see images of possible like minded people I could connect with, maybe make some new friends and maybe even meet my future boyfriend.
I have thoughts that I need to be around a deep practitioner like Will, that I need to be around a genuinely good man so I can know what a good guy is, how he treats others, how he thinks and how he shows up in the world. I'm usually impressed and moved deeply by his teachings and how he embodies the practice.
I have other thoughts that my life depends on connecting with others, I have to put myself out there in the world and build relationships or I will die. I hear people talk of "networking" and being a "team player".
I imagine everyone is out there having these deep, profound bonding experiences like their pictures on facebook suggest. I see "them" traveling the world, broadening their horizons. Dating "they" say is a numbers game. You just have to meet lots of people and if I don't get out of the house, if I don't put effort into meeting new people, I will be alone -- forever!
But often I just want to be alone. Today I am loving it. Plus, I am taking care of this sweet, amazing blind dog who would love nothing more than for me to be with him and take him for a walk in the beautiful hiking trails just outside the door.
So for now, I will embrace the Joy of Missing Out. I will miss out on Will's meditation group but will enjoy having a lovely evening alone, in this beautiful place with this sweet dog.
Would it be nice to share it with someone else... maybe... but for now, I'm happy to be alone, with Cole.
Cole seems happy too.
Learning is best done little and often.
Notes I've taken from a daylong at Spirit Rock on Healing Trauma.
Five factors of Post Traumatic Growth:
1. Awareness and acceptance of reality
2. Resourcing with people
3. Resourcing with the positive
4. Create a coherent narrative...
This is what happened, these are the consequences.
These were the resources, practices, tools and coping strategies I used.
This is what I now appreciate about myself and life because of the event.
These were the lessons I learned, growth I experienced and positives found.
5. Appreciating the new life because of what was learned through recovery
When we experience trauma, we leave our body.
Feeling safe in the body is key to healing trauma.
To calm the body:
Exercise is one of the best things you can do, get into movement to get out of feeling stuck.
We want to activate the nervous system without fear so we can be active in the world. Dance, go to work, clean the house, walk... get the body into action.
When working with fearful, disassociated person, be grounded, safe and relaxed. This invites them to be the same and creates a neural synchronicity between us which helps them feel safe and calm enough to get back into their body.
The body doesn't know the difference between real and imagined so use the power of imagination. Think of others caring for and loving us, this rewires the brain and nervous system to feel safe.
People in trauma need safe refuges and resources.
Reaching out to safe, supportive people who KNOW we are healing and capable of health and wholeness.
People who can hold space without an agenda for as long as it takes.
Physical contact is also important. Every warm, safe, comforting touch releases oxytocin, the bonding, soothing and trusting hormone.
Tell your story to those who have earned the right to hear it. ~Brene Browne
Answer the question, how did I cope in previous hard times? Focus on coping, what has helped, what might work, who can help now?
Trauma blows your identity apart. After going through it, you come out the other side with a greater sense of competence, purpose, meaning and an expanded sense of self.
We reframe the story from victim to victorious. We lived through it and are bigger as a result.
Use writing, talking, visualization and sharing with others to maximize neural integration... different parts of the brain are used for each type of processing.
In re-writing these notes, reading them out loud and sharing my own personal experiences with others, I integrate them into my nervous system and strengthen resilience and safety in my body. My body learns to trust everything is OK. If something bad happens, I will be just fine. I know how to cope. No need to live in fear.
Everything is here to teach, grow and expand me. I am safe.
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!