Three things to consider if The Work isn’t working

What if The Work isn't working?
What if The Work isn’t working?

Several people have written to ask me lately….

….what do I do if The Work isn’t really working?

They’ve explained that they’ve done The Work over and over again on the same person, or they feel continually depressed, or they’ve got a terrible addiction like eating or drinking or smoking, or they hate their situation-job, spouse, marriage, home, kids, finances, spiritual.

They’ve done The Work, many times even, and have No Results.

“What do I do now?” they ask.

If you’re someone who’s had this despairing question…

…I don’t know what exactly is happening, but I can tell you what’s been true in my experience when I’ve had this question myself.

It’s one of THREE possibilities, every time, when I have the same belief or troubling experience repeat itself again in my life.

1) Even though I say or “think” I’ve been doing The Work, I haven’t been….not really.

It’s been more like I’ve been finding turnarounds in my head while driving my car, or I’ve been wondering for a few minutes who I would be without my stressful belief and coming up with a blank, or I’ve started worksheets and never finished them.

I really haven’t started from zero, filled a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet out very, very slowly and with care and contemplation to get the best thoughts down on paper, and then gone through each thought one by one.

It’s sooooooo hard!

Isn’t there a shortcut or something?

Um. Not really.

The Work IS the shortest shortcut.

2) I’ve had a really sneaky, deep, and desperate underlying motive.

Like I’m clawing for solid ground, I just want a fear-free answer, a place of peace NOW!!

This means, when you start doing The Work you might have a “plan” on where you’ll end up (blissful) or what will happen (magic, joy, happiness) after you question your thinking.

You are refusing to tolerate the depth of despair, depression or loss.

You’re against suffering….

….so you can’t allow yourself to see something True for you, because you believe it hurts (you forgot you could do The Work on THAT pain as well).

You try to use The Work to bypass the pain, and get to the good part ASAP.

It’s so normal to try to feel better, but if you’re trying to whistle in the dark, there will be a fake feeling….

….even just a teensy bit of a fake feeling….

….and you won’t fall to your knees, with the Truth rising above all else.

(As I said, that’s the way its been for me-if it works for you to try to be positive like saying affirmations or eliminating your “negative” thoughts, then go for it!)

3) Lastly, something or someone is repeatedly bugging me or triggering sorrow because I haven’t gotten to the very root core of my inquiry (yet).

I thought I was “done” with that.

But no.

Sorry, Charlie.

You just lost, again. You were just betrayed, again. You were just criticized, again. You were ambushed, again. You were conned, again. You shouldn’t have trusted, again. You should have trusted, again. You shouldn’t have loved, again. You missed out, again. You got scared, again.


Be very, very gentle with yourself.

How do you know you’re supposed to be right in the middle of what you’re feeling, thinking, hearing, seeing, doing, or experiencing?

You are.

A brief story:

After two years of doing The Work myself, very intently after it was introduced into my life, this very question rose up for me one day in a really deep look at someone I was so pissed off at, I could hardly see straight.

“This guy was such a jerk!” I thought.


I HATED him. I hated myself for trying to be friends with him, and going back for more interactions.

I hated myself for hating him.

Surely, I wasn’t seeing something?

My mind must be twisted and ridiculous. There must be something wrong with me. I needed to do The Work MORE on this guy, I was so disturbed in his presence. 

I raised my hand at an event with Byron Katie and asked “I’m doing The Work many times on this one person I find so disturbing, and I’m still furious!”

Katie replied, “How do you know you’re supposed to be angry? You are!”



I’ve been working this whole time with an underlying motive that I should be “loving what is” about everyone at all times, including this obnoxious screwed up mentally ill person.

Almost immediately, my objection to this person and his words and behaviors, completely shifted.

That was THE WAY HE WAS. The way of it.

I was not in control of this situation. I was not the ruler of the universe, including all the self-criticism I had of ME for feeling HATE.

This would not change, just like the weather.

I could rage and scream at myself (and him) and the storm clouds, and have a hissy fit every time it rained…

…or I could calm down, and take good care of myself, and pursue what I really wanted.

I was free.

I was suddenly no longer angry.

I was simply clear that I really didn’t want to interact with him in the way I had, and I was instantly so very grateful for everything he had ever said and done.

I understood.

That was the last time I ever did The Work on that person, and every time I think of him, I really do now smile-I had some of the most amazing learning experiences of my life in the presence of that person.

“In The Way, nothing is personal. You are merely an instrument in the hands of the forces, participating in the harmony of balance. You must reach the point where your whole interest lies in the balance and not in any personal preference for how things should be. It’s that way with all of life. The more you can work with the balance, the more you can just sail through life. Effortless action is what happens when you come into the Tao. Life happens, you’re there, but you don’t make it happen. There is no burden, there is no stress. The forces take care of themselves as you sit in the center. That is the Tao. It’s the most beautiful place in all of life. You can’t touch it, but you can be at one with it.” ~ Michael Singer

Love, Grace

8 Replies to “Three things to consider if The Work isn’t working”

  1. Perfect, just got to this, and the timing is impeccable! I forget and am reminded, forget and remember, expand and contract…and it’s all ok-if I let it! I relate so well to what Victoria said above about not being able ‘to get it all’ – and it’s ok. And I also appreciate so much the part about it being ok to still be angry after so much work on a person – that will be the way (probably) with my former husband, yet I am appreciative of the gifts given thus far. I’d also like to say that quoting Michael Singer has shown a whole new light on his writing for me, and I sm so appreciative of revisiting his writing. I’m sure doing TW makes what he is saying so much more accessible for me, but it is your quoting him that has allowed me to know this! Many thanks, love, Nancy

  2. Grace,
    This is my favorite note. So true I thought, even tho I haven’t done the Work very long, I felt the deep truth of what you said, loved how you said it and the quote by MAKE, beautiful to hear. Happy birthday area!

  3. So great to notice how we have an image in our mind of peace, comparing it to whatever is here now, and we’ll say “this is not it”– ha ha! Thanks for sharing! xo–Grace

  4. Been struggling with an ACIM class I have been in for a while. Every one else are having these wonderful revelations! I am not. Worse, I feel like a loser because I think I should. I just cant wrap my head around all the concepts. After your newsletter today I am thinking maybe that is ok. Maybe it is not resonating with me because it is not suppose to. How do I know that? Because it is not:) I will do the work on it and many other things I have looked for the answers in the course and maybe I will be much clearer! Thanks Grace, you really are tremendously helpful!

  5. Thank you for this, Grace! I was just doing the work on “My day ahead” and feeling frustrated that I wasn’t at some beautiful, centered, peaceful place (as I should be, dammit) as I’m in the YOI group. HA! I keep finding my expectations or beliefs about what would happen to me when I did the work (peaceful guru) and how that has prevented me from my own peace. This episode of Grace Notes really spoke to me.

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