Day 17 of the Work: turning around question 6

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 responded:

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.

Day 13 of The Work: turning it around to the opposite

Today in The Work, I turn my statement “my father didn’t care about me” around to the opposite:

My father did care about me.

I need to think of three specific examples of how that could be true.

  1. He supported my very existence from birth until college by working and providing for my sustenance in the form of food, housing, clothing, and so much more: health care, dance and piano lessons, braces on my teeth, and so on. That’s caring.
  2. He (and my mom) cared about the cultural literacy of their children enough to read books aloud to us. When I tell people that my parents read aloud to us after meals, and that they read A Child’s History of the World (still in print and used in home schooling) and a wonderfully illustrated oversize child’s version of The Iliad and the Odyssey (sadly out of print), they are amazed. Both of my parents loved books, knowledge, language, and learning, and they passed that love on. I had no idea how good I had it. That’s caring.
  3. I could ask him questions about English and other languages, math, science, history, baseball, college football, politics, religion, and current events, even chess, and he gave me information I could rely on as accurate. I don’t recall him ever saying “I don’t know” or ridiculing me for my interest in all manner of nerdy, brainy topics. In fact, that was how we connected, through sharing information. He supported the development of my curiosity and my intellect. That’s caring.

I have turned my judgment completely around, from “my father didn’t care about me” to “my father did care about me.” Even though I knew it wasn’t true from question 1, this turnaround provides the proof.

I feel grateful for remembering these specific examples.

Next: the turnaround for statement 6.

Day 12 of Byron Katie’s inquiry: turning it around to the other

Today I turn my judgment “My father didn’t care about me” around to the other. This is the second turnaround, following the four questions of Byron Katie’s inquiry process called The Work.

This statement, turned around to the other, reads like this:

I didn’t care about my father.

Whew. Boy, that takes me out of “being the victim,” doesn’t it?

I need to think of three ways that I didn’t care about my father.

  1. I’ve already mentioned this, but I did not tell him that I wanted more positive attention from him. I did not give him a chance to step up to the plate, successfully or not. I did not tell him what I needed and wanted, and so he never had a chance to even try to meet my needs for fatherly affection and attention. I missed out, and so did he. That’s a big loss.
  2. When my dad was sitting on the sofa disconnected from everyone around him, I not once asked him what was going on. I didn’t ask him what he was feeling, or what he was thinking. I didn’t ask him if he was depressed or sulking, which is what it looked like to me. I didn’t engage with him at all. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe that was the only way he could get some solitude in our crowded household. Now I’m wondering if maybe he was an introvert like me, someone who needed some daily solitude to recharge his batteries. I just remember feeling disappointed when I saw him doing that and avoiding interacting with him. I wonder what his internal experience actually was. Whoa. I just had a thought. Maybe he needed attention and didn’t know how to ask for it. Wow.
  3. Even though I was the child and my dad was the parent, parents don’t always know what their children need. I’ve experienced this as a parent myself. I didn’t understand that since my father’s own father had died when my daddy was just a little boy of 9, he had no fatherly role model for parenting teenagers. He didn’t know what to do. I can view my dad’s human life in a much more compassionate way now than I could as a teenager. In that way, I didn’t care about him back then.
  4. Okay, I’m adding a fourth reason. I didn’t care about my father all the time because I had my own life to live. No one can care about someone all the time. It’s physically impossible. They have to sleep, eat, drive, decide what to wear, work out, take classes, hang out with others, go to the bathroom. Their attention simply cannot be on caring or on another person all the time. In fact, if it was, think of how impaired they would be, doing nothing but caring about someone! This idea that someone should always care about another is actually like a prison. I could not have cared about my father all the time, and he could not have cared about me all the time, and lived any kind of good life.

I so wish he was here right now so we could talk about these matters and heal. I’m just going to assume that my healing is his healing, even though he’s on the other side. How could it not be, when the ties that bind us are what exist now?

Wow, this Byron Katie Work has a way of really workin’! My interpretation of a situation has just been busted wide open, and all kinds of new possibilities — a new openness and mystery — are at play.

It reminds me of how much I don’t know, and of that little part that likes to know, that believes that knowing will somehow make me feel more secure.

And you know, that’s cool, as long as I remember that my knowing is really just a hypothesis, a temporary truth in the void that allows me to get on with my life (like believing the sun will rise tomorrow), that it’s nothing to write in stone.

Next: the last turnaround, to the opposite.

New blog milestones and best massage ever given

Sometime this weekend when I wasn’t looking, my blog passed 60,000 views! This is a labor of love, and I can’t measure my “success” in monetary terms. Blog views, likes, and comments are my currency.

Thank you for reading me.

And…yesterday I had my best single day ever with 426 views! That’s pretty astonishing, considering the average number of views per day in 2012 (so far) has been 182.

I took the whole weekend off, spending a good chunk of it out in the country at a friend’s remote ranch. Clean air, water, cattle, a river, lots of trees, big sky, silence (compared to the city), a sweet porch on which I did a couple of great yoga sequences, soaking in a metal tub filled with well water, and lots of laughter were just the ticket for rest and relaxation.

I didn’t do a stroke of bodywork all weekend (except a little self-massage on my shoulders and arms). This morning I gave what felt to me like the best massage I’ve ever given, a 90-minute full body massage combining Swedish, deep, pressure points, rocking, reflexology, and lots of attention to her neck, shoulders, and hips. My client really appreciated it. Her week started extremely well.

If you’re looking for a great massage, consider booking one in the morning when your massage therapist is feeling refreshed, especially after a couple of days off! If you’re in the Austin area, I’d love your business!

See you later, with the first turnaround of Byron Katie’s Work!