Day 9 of The Work: Who would you be without the thought?

The fourth question to ask when you are doing inquiry (i.e., “The Work” of Byron Katie) about a situation that is emotionally painful is this:

Who would I be without the thought?

Applying this question to my statement that my father didn’t care about me is astonishing.

Without the thought, I am free of these painful feelings. When the thought leaves, the feelings leave.

What’s left is an empty openness. I feel it in my chest. There’s a freedom there that wasn’t there before. It’s as if that thought never existed.

Who would I be? Well, I experience myself as more expansive, more open, lighter.

“Who I am” is my identity, composed of my thoughts, emotions, sensations, and emptiness or spaciousness. Who I am is pretty much how I experience myself in each moment. (Everything else is about me, not me.)

What are you experiencing this very moment as you read this?

It’s so easy to think that who I am is my story: “the woman whose father didn’t care about her” or “the woman whose father had Asperger’s” and so many more stories I’ve bought into and perpetuated about myself. Whenever I think a thought that’s accompanied by emotional pain, I can do inquiry, starting with question #1.

Who I am is not my story.

My father is also not who I formerly believed him to be. When I think of him without this thought, a series of images comes into my mind. Without my story and its emotional baggage, they are neutral snapshots: my father sitting on the sofa, my father at the dinner table, my father driving, my father standing outside his office building waiting for his ride home, my father kissing my mother.

These are much kinder images than those of a father who didn’t care about his daughter.

Man, where did that thought ever even come from? Never mind. Who cares? I’m just glad to have busted this painful, limiting story.

To recap, I’ve already asked:

  1. Is is true? (if no, skip to #3)
  2. Can I absolutely know it’s true?
  3. What happens when I believe the thought?

“Who would you be without the thought” can also be asked “What would you be without the thought?” And whatever your answer is, you can ask again, “What would you be without that thought?”

See where that takes you! (It takes me into a vast experience of empty presence where anything can happen.)

Next: the first turnaround.

Advertisement

More wit and wisdom from Byron Katie, and a 21-day challenge to do The Work

Byron KatieThis weekend I got to experience the wonderful presence and work of Byron Katie again. I’ve lost track now of how many times I’ve seen her. I love The Work, her four questions and three turnarounds that you can apply to any thought you have that causes you to suffer.

This time my friend Glenda drove down from the Metroplex to attend with me, and I reconnected with several friends who also hold Katie’s work in high esteem. I remembered to bring my copy of her book Loving What Is: Four questions that can change your life. She signed it for me, and we chatted a bit about using The Work in trauma recovery. (She says it works well.)

Glenda bought her book for children, Tiger-Tiger, Is It True? Four questions to make you smile again, to use with her young grandson as well as an audiobook of Loving What Is and some cards.

My dear late Neuro-Linguistic Programming teacher Tom Best included The Work in his master practitioner training. Even though The Work is not NLP, it is very NLP-like in that it uses questions to induce profound shifts at the belief and identity neurological levels of experience. Tom thought very highly of it, and I cannot think of any other non-NLP techniques that made it into his practitioner and master practitioner trainings.

I’m feeling inspired to start a new 21-day challenge: 21 days because that’s how long it takes to develop a new habit, because I would like for The Work so become so ingrained that as soon as I even start thinking a thought that is less than loving, I can ask “Is that true? Nope! What happens when I believe the thought? Who am I without the thought?” and immediately shift my state.

When I discard painful thoughts, I always feel “returned to myself” with a sense of peace, pleasure, wonder, and expansion. Imagine: We could live from that state nearly all the time!

Katie is onto something of huge importance, in my opinion, with her distinctions between what’s my business, someone else’s business, and God’s business. If what I cannot control is either someone else’s business or God’s business, then what is my business? It is being present in my own life, attending to my own experience, knowing and doing what is right for me, letting go of all stories about how things “should” be.

For my challenge, I need to make 21 copies of her Judge Your Neighbor worksheet (available online if you would like to participate too — I invite all readers willing to do the inquiry of The Work to join me). I plan to blog about it occasionally.

Here are some of her memorable words from the weekend (and here’s a link to the last time I noted her wit and wisdom if you want even more inspiration):

In my world…

Are you being thought?

You can’t feel my pain and vice versa. It’s a projection. I’m the only one who can hurt me.

We’re all innocent.

I asked with the intention of really listening.

They will or they won’t mind you.

I want to know what’s real and what’s not.

Nothing has ever happened, except I believe it happened.

I love everything I think. I’m the best company I know.

Who needs God when you have your opinion?

The ego loves to play.

Apologize to yourself.

You said thank you, so I’m thanking me.

Smoking quit me as I became sane.

Live in your own business.

Prior to thought was pure awareness, joy, the unnamed.

Inequality is not possible when the mind is right.

We’re a human race. We need your help.

Would you hold me now?

I’m always asking what I want.

The mental produces the physical.