There is one last turnaround in Byron Katie’s The Work. This one is sometimes overlooked. Back on Day 1, I filled out the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet. Question 6 asks:
What is it in or about this situation that you don’t ever want to experience again?
I don’t ever want to feel so disconnected, frustrated, and helpless about someone I care about [as I did with my father].
Question 6 has its own turnaround, which is:
I am willing to feel as disconnected, frustrated, and helpless about someone I care about [as I did with my father].
I look forward to feeling as disconnected, frustrated, and helpless about someone I care about [as I did with my father].
Whoa. I definitely feel a lot of resistance. Those statements are not true!
So let me inquire more deeply. I’m going to consult my worn, autographed copy of Loving What Is and see what Byron Katie has to say about this turnaround:
This turnaround is about embracing all of life. Saying — and meaning — “I am willing to…” creates openness, creativity, and flexibility. Any resistance you may have is softened, allowing you to lighten up rather than keep hopelessly applying willpower or force to eradicate the situation from your life. Saying and meaning “I look forward to…” actively opens you to life as it unfolds.
It’s all there in the title of her book, Loving What Is.
So my understanding now is that it is entirely possible in my future that I will again feel as disconnected, frustrated, and helpless about someone as I did with my father. Do I know my future? No. So to resist a possibility in advance is to cut myself off from potential reality. What will happen will happen.
The truth is that if this does happen, I don’t have to respond the way I did in the past. I don’t have to fear it or repress it or even suffer at all. I can embrace whatever feelings arise and do inquiry on them if painful. I can embrace that person.
I can recognize the similarity with my old story about my dad and know this person is not him but could definitely have some similar characteristics (which sooner or later everyone will, because the common denominator is being human).
I can get fascinated with that.
I can even thank them for bringing me something to do The Work on.
Another approach to this statement is to ask question 3 again, “What happens when you believe that thought?” When I think about feeling like that in the future, I feel disgruntled, unwelcoming, armored.
I can not only let that thought drop me, I can embrace that possible future! It’s one of many!
Does anyone’s future hold only that which they want? Probably not. So get ready. Shit happens. I am willing to experience conflict, to feel pain and suffering, to be confused, even to be mortal and to die.
I am going to do those things anyway, so I might as well be willing.
I can even look forward to doing these things with as much serenity, acceptance, wisdom, and equanimity as I can muster.
I originally wrote this post two days ago, and then I lost it somewhere in the ether. So this is the second time I’ve written it. It was a struggle the first time, less so this time, and I got even more out of it by doing it again.