Today I’m kicking off a 21-day challenge to do The Work of Byron Katie. She has invented a method that consists of four questions and three turnarounds that if used on your stressful situations, can transform your pain into inner peace.
My hunch is that if I do it deeply and often enough, it will change my life.
I saw Katie in person in Austin, TX, USA, a few weekends ago. I’ve seen her several times, and each time I get a lot out of doing The Work on whatever my issues are at the time.
Then I forget that I know how to do that!
Because it takes 21 days to change a behavior, I am committing to do The Work every day for that long so that it becomes habit whenever I find myself suffering from my thoughts.
I’ll be using the four questions and three turnarounds on her Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, which you can download and print, if you’d like to do The Work yourself.
I’ll also be consulting her book, Loving What Is, where she elaborates on her method.
Here are the questions with my answers on the worksheet:
- Think of a situation where someone confuses, angers, or disappoints me, and why. When I recently saw Katie, she asked if anyone was present who had never had the thought “he (or she) doesn’t care about me.” Not one person raised their hand. This is a distressing thought that everyone experiences at some point. I’m going to use that thought to do my work. I am disappointed with my father because he doesn’t care about me. Even though he died in 15 years ago, some thoughts about our relationship are still painful when I think of them.
- How do I want him to change? What do I want him to do? I want my father to see me for who I am. I want him to interact with me more, to be responsive. I want him to show his affection and to have more fun, be playful, lighten up. I want him to give good guidance as a father about living in the world and being successful. I want to be closer to him. I want to feel really cherished. (Tears are coming into my eyes.)
- What advice would I offer him? He should enjoy his family more. He shouldn’t just withdraw and sit there oblivious to everything going on around him. He should spend time with just me and give me his full attention.
- In order for me to be happy in this situation, what do I need him to think, say, feel, or do? I need my father to think I’m special and tell me so, and why he thinks that. I need my father to feel proud of me and affectionate toward me. I need him to connect to me in a way that feel good to both of us.
- What do I think of him in this situation? Make a list. My father is depressed, withdrawn, neglectful, inattentive, dry, serious, selfish, closed off, shut down.
- What is it in or about this situation that I don’t ever want to experience again? I don’t ever want to feel so disconnected, frustrated, and helpless about someone I care about.
Okay, that’s it for today. My memories of when I was in high school, those last few years I lived at home, are so strong, I can smell the cigarette smoke in our home.
In my family, it was forbidden to rock the boat, to confront the parents. We all tiptoed on eggshells around him when he was disconnected.
Next: the first question.