I remember when I first got to The School for The Work ten years ago.
My thoughts so innocently at the time were basically I had no trouble with anyone….
….or if I did, that was in the past. Done. Fini.
Any remnant thoughts of those people were MY problem and I had done “a lot of work” on those problem people already, so I was kinda over it.
Code word for “a lot of work” is many hours in therapy, in workshops, or with close friends analyzing, discussing, rehashing and talking about the people who had been problems in my life.
And finding solutions for how not to feel bad about those people, or about myself.
All of it actually really important.
I don’t dismiss the profound support I received from mentors, people in dynamic roles offering different ways to approach my predicaments.
Awesome. Some invaluable.
But I really did talk about some of those problem people ad nauseam.
When I found The Work, it was soooooo fantastic for cutting through the BS, not explaining myself, not speaking in my own defense, not trying to sound pleasant and non-jugmental while still expressing terror or rage.
No, all that pretzel-twisting was over.
I didn’t have to try to communicate what I was feeling in any particular way.
It was on the paper. Unedited. Blunt. Real.
I could then begin to explore if these judgments and complaints were actually true.
It didn’t matter how I got the judgments in the first place, or if they were justified.
The focus was truth.
I brought up every single person I felt difficulty with in my life, one by one: grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, siblings, best friend, boyfriend, husband, dog.
I went for the relationships that had hurt the most, in my opinion.
The times that felt unbearable, devastating, or shameful.
Or when I felt like hitting someone I was so angry!
I noticed how I acted now, in my daily life, when I believed my thoughts about those people, even if they had been dead for years.
Mean. Impatient. Sad.
I then got to imagine who I’d be without my thoughts….
….Noticing the air, the chair I was sitting in, the open window latch, the hum of the distant street, the color of the plate on the table.
When I turned my thoughts around about those mean, nasty people from my past…..I got surprised!
She was controlling? I was controlling–of both her, but mostly of me! He was distant? I was distant from him, hiding my real thoughts–but mostly distant from myself! They were critical of me? I was critical of them inside my head–but mostly critical of myself inside my head.
You mean this is no one’s fault? Nobody is to blame? Everyone was doing the best they could? They were just acting the same way I already was acting with me?
I could only really get this, though, by walking slowly through each concept on my worksheets–not by flipping to the turnarounds or being speedy about the process.
Going slowly was the speediest.
That’s why every week in the Relationships teleclass (or any teleclass), we look at one thought and walk it all the way from the top to the bottom of inquiry, investigating its flavor and meaning.
“Just understand that what you see is not what is. Appearances will dissolve on investigation and the underlying reality will come to the surface. You need not burn the house to get out of it. You just walk out. It is only when you cannot come and go freely that the house becomes a jail.”~ Nisargadatta
With inquiry, over and over again what I thought was true, I realize after inquiry…..wasn’t.
All those meanies and rejecters, weren’t, and didn’t.
This is not the natural way of my mind. My thoughts will still take off after someone who says something that stings. My heart will still feel broken about someone I miss. Adrenaline will still rush through my body with a jolt when I’m about to walk out on stage in front of a whole bunch of people or have an important confrontational talk with a friend.
But these reactions really are far, far, far less. I can’t tell you how much shorter, or how I’m already laughing even as the adrenaline is coming to the end of its wave.
It has made a difference.
Now, it feels most of the time like everything and anything can be worked with.
Bring it on, even. Bring it.
Wow, it’s a free world.
So free, I could dance!