Yesterday was a very busy day. I didn’t have an opportunity to work another question, but I did notice that I was applying The Work.
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a presidential election coming up. There is a lot of talk in the media about it. I notice myself hearing soundbites from the candidates and their supporters or opponents and asking myself, when someone says something disturbing (that is, full of fear, contempt, hatred), “Is that true?” and “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?”
The third question to apply to the statement “My father didn’t care about me” is this:
How do I react when I believe that thought?
Okay, I’m thinking the thought and believing it’s true. Something happens. My state changes. I feel very, very contracted. I feel sad. I feel hurt. My shoulders round into a forward slump. My head drops. I feel heavy, slow grief. I feel like I want to cry.
My self-talk adds, “…and that means I’m worthless, if my own father doesn’t care about me. I feel ashamed of who I am. Something must be wrong with me.”
It also reminds me of other times when I felt hurt that someone didn’t care about me. Images of a few faces pop into my mind.
My dad died years ago, but if he were still around and lucid, given who I am now, I’d want to tell him, “Do you know that for much of my life, I felt like you didn’t care about me?” It wouldn’t necessarily be angry, accusatory, or blaming on my part. He’d be a very old man, after all.
I imagine he’d ask why, and I’d tell him “because you didn’t make eye contact. You didn’t look me in the eye, and I felt like you didn’t really see me, like I was invisible, like you could not ever give me your full attention, and therefore, I was unimportant to you.”
Honestly, I have no idea how a conversation like that might have gone. If he were still around, he would know whether he had Asperger’s Syndrome. Aspies have difficulty with eye contact and social norms. But even if he didn’t have it, that all of his children think he probably did says something about his social skills.
When I think that thought, “My father didn’t care about me,” I don’t like how I feel. I don’t feel much like going out and being sociable myself. It puts me in a funk.
Can you see how I’ve spun off into my own little mental and emotional world here? I’m deep in my story about “my father didn’t care about me.” I am not present.
I’ve already answered question one, “Is it true?” No, it’s not true. But when I try on believing it’s true, I understand that my belief that my thought is true causes me to pain.
Wow. I can really use this tool. Any time I am feeling unhappy or stressed about something, I can investigate what I’m thinking and do inquiry on it.
Before I started writing this post, I gave a massage, and that felt really good. I was peaceful and happy. Now, believing this thought has brought me down, disturbed my peace, brought unhappiness into my day. I’ve entered a world that isn’t real, that’s in the past or the future, that’s anywhere but here, sitting here in my trailer on my sweet new sofa with my laptop, drinking delicious cold homemade pomegranate ginger kombucha, feeling the fan blowing.
A follow-up question to this is:
Can you see a reason to drop that thought? (And please don’t try to drop it.)
Yes. Before the thought, I felt peaceful and happy. After I believed that thought was true, I felt unhappy. Reason enough.
I don’t need to drop the thought. The thought drops me because I know it’s not true.
Another follow-up question is:
Can you find one stress-free reason to keep the thought?
The only stress-free reason I can think of for keeping it is to put it on a shelf in my Museum of Old Beliefs, where it can gather dust peacefully.
Next: the fourth question.
“I don’t need to drop the thought. The thought drops me because I know it’s not true.”
I love this and have seen myself how true it is.
Byron Katie is amazing, huh? Her work has absolutely changed my life! Thanks for sharing this post, good reminder of how to work through The Work 🙂