Day 3: Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

Two days ago I started this 21-day challenge of doing The Work of Byron Katie by filling out the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet.

Yesterday I asked the first of the four questions.

Today I’m asking the second question. This is a little tricky. If the answer to the first question is no, you can skip this and go directly to the third question. I answered no.

I wanted to include it in this modeling of the process, being online and all, so for demo purposes, I’m going to re-answer the first question by saying yes, it is true that he didn’t care about me, and ask the second question:

Can I absolutely know it’s true?

(It really doesn’t matter what the answer is to the first two questions. This is just for the purpose of inquiring within about what is true.)

Can I absolutely know that he didn’t care about me? This question asks me to go deeper, to go into what I absolutely know. I wonder what I do absolutely know. It seems like there’s a lot I do not absolutely know.

I could not read his mind to know what he did and didn’t care about. He didn’t say he cared about me in those specific words (that I remember, anyway), and he didn’t say he did not care about me. I don’t know. Feel the doubt?

As far as his behavior goes, I suspect he believed that doing his job as the breadwinner of the family was how he showed that he cared. Hmm. Maybe when he got home from work, he was drained and didn’t have anything more to give.

That’s a new thought.

A way to go even deeper is to add “…and it means that _______” to the statement.

I could say “He didn’t care about me, and it means that something is wrong with me.” Or it could mean that something is wrong with him, or it could mean that he didn’t know how to express his feelings very well, or it could mean that he didn’t know how to relate to me.

Then for any of these interpretations, I could go back to question 1 and ask, “Is that true?” Probably not anything major, maybe — and I feel my compassion for him building. I have a new understanding of him.

A second way to go deeper with this question is to ask if you had that, what would it get you. So I could say, if my dad truly cared about me, I would feel connected.

Then I could go back to question 1 and ask, “Is that true?” Hmm. Not necessarily.

A third way to go deeper is to imagine the worst outcome reality could hand me. What all might happen that my dad didn’t care about me? Hmm. Worst case scenario? I guess that would be that I committed suicide. Is that true? Nope. The worst didn’t happen.

Fourth way: You can also look for the “should” or “shouldn’t.” My father should have cared about me. Is that true?

Well, I can’t make him care about me. It has to come from him. So if he didn’t care, he didn’t care. But shouldn’t fathers care about their daughters? Well, some fathers don’t, and to say they should is to argue with reality. I always lose that argument!

And…to expect someone to care about another all the time is insane. No one could be caringly on another’s mind 24/7 in a sustainable healthy way, when I think about it. You have to brush your teeth and go to the bathroom sometime. 

So maybe sometimes he cared and sometimes he didn’t. It’s not true that he should have cared about me.

The last way to deepen inquiry is to ask where the proof is. Where’s the proof that my father didn’t care about me? What’s the evidence?

  1. He didn’t ever actually say “I care about you” (that I can remember).
  2. Sometimes he withdrew from social contact.
  3. He often didn’t notice what was going on in my life: who my friends were, what I was doing outside of school, what my hopes and dreams were.
  4. He didn’t ask me questions about myself and my life.
  5. He didn’t spend time with just me, getting to know me, having fun, or being closer.

Are any of these proof that he didn’t care about me? Are they true? No.

I hope you’re beginning to understand how this works! You don’t have to go this deep, but it’s good to know you can deepen your inquiry if you want.

Next: my favorite question, #3.

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