First Friday Inquiry with Grace is here! We start at 7:45 am Pacific Time. Everyone and anyone is welcome to join, listen, raise your hand to share or “do” The Work. We’ll begin by filling out a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet. Use this as a time to simply do The Work. I’ll walk you through step by step. Beginners and experienced all are welcome. All you need to bring is a pen and paper, dial in with your phone or computer, and get ready to open your mind.
Click the link here to join me for First Friday (everyone joining will be muted, so don’t be shy, you can come and see what it’s like by listening in). No one is required to share out loud.
Sunday at 5 pm Pacific Time the doors close for Year of Inquiry. I am so, so honored and excited for the beautiful group who have joined. While the full program earns a huge number of credits for Certification in The Work (166) through the Institute for The Work, the most important part of this program is doing The Work. Some people will do TeleSessions Only (the flexible version where you are not earning credit) and some will jump in to complete all requirements for training in the Institute as a Certified Facilitator. Two levels of participation.
I get so excited because….wondering if our stressful beliefs are true is a most stunning and beautiful experience to have.
To read about Year of Inquiry and enroll, visit HERE. If you have questions, I’ll probably be answering them all weekend, so don’t hesitate to write email@example.com.
One thing we’ll be doing in Year of Inquiry Month Three is noticing our common, frequent Top Ten Stressful Hits. Have you ever noticed repetitive objections or complaints can repeat themselves regularly, over and over, in your head?
There’s not enough time. Life is hard. He doesn’t care about me. I’ve been abandoned. I need x in order to be happy. I can’t go on unless…..
The scenes, or situations, or even the people and characters involved can change….
…but here comes the same thought. Again.
Byron Katie refers to these kinds of repetitive thoughts as Underlying Beliefs (and so do other speakers, authors, researchers).
These beliefs maybe formed when you were really young. Or perhaps they began before your time, and they were passed along from generation to generation and you received these beliefs from your mom or dad without even realizing it.
You can still question them. Especially when they’re stressful.
The other day, I was writing for a book project underway. I get to write one chapter in a collection of chapters written by facilitators of The Work who have been inquiring for a long time. The deadline for the chapter was yesterday.
I had the thought just like I’ve had with so many projects and events in life: “I need more time.”
It’s possible this thought will never go away. It’s just a little voice that likes to sing. About “time”.
Time, time, time we love time! More time, more time, more! Not enough time, not enough time, not enough!
I chuckled after I heard the thought “I need more time”. Because almost immediately I had the question “Is it true?”
Because I really have sat many times with this inquiry and felt the spaciousness of what it’s like without believing I need more time. For anything.
Not more time for this book writing project, not for hanging out with a close friend, not for making more money, not for running a race, not for weeding the garden, not for waking up or becoming enlightened, not for being alive.
I notice there’s always this moment, here right now. I can only finish what I finish, do what I do, live this life, be this.
There’s no more time available….that’s reality. There’s no less time either. The amount of time required is in the hands of something else, some other force, not this personal small identity of “me”.
Who would you be without this underlying belief, a human belief passed along for ages from one to the next to the next, that we must hurry, or we’re under pressure, or there’s not enough time?
What if Unfinished…..is OK?
Could the amount we have be enough? Be plenty?
Turning my ancient repetitive belief around: I have enough time. I do not need more time. Only my thinking needs more time.
Could it be the manuscript of this book chapter is “done” for now?
Of course. I tweak, edit, correct, update. Then the deadline comes, and off it goes. Good enough. What else would it be?
What are genuine examples of how you do NOT need more time in your life, for whatever you think you need more time for?
Why do you need more time, anyway?
Ahhhhh, therein lies the interesting question. Because I love this so much, I’m afraid of losing it. Because I dislike this, I need time to fix it. Because people will disapprove, time will fix the disapproval. Because people approve, time will keep it going.
Are any of these conclusions absolutely true?
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time–past and future–the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
It’s only my thinking that actually needs more time.
And one way I can give my thinking more time….is questioning it’s beliefs, with The Work.
The question, O me! so sad, recurring–What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here–that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
~ Walt Whitman
P.S. I was on the radio with some local Seattle people. Listen to the show HERE.
One beautifully striking notion from Byron Katie that I’ve so loved and learned from, has been the idea that what’s happening, the words you hear or read, your encounters, the sounds, sights, voices, behaviors, events and places you find yourself in….
….are all for you.
For your awareness, reflection, learning, challenge, enlightenment.
How do you know it’s supposed to happen?
This takes us to sometimes very intense places and memories. Questions arise. But that hurt! I didn’t like it! I’m not OK now!
The Work usually begins by voyaging into these churning waters, maybe even going into a big storm that’s been very frightening to navigate for most of your life. We start by visiting what we do NOT like in the world, most of the time. Perhaps it’s even a trip to hell.
Yikes! It takes courage to begin The Work. It really does.
But one time, in the midst of a big audience with Byron Katie on the stage, I heard Katie speak to this idea of loving what is another way.
The flip side.
A woman standing with the microphone was frightened. Her voice was shivering, her hair gray, her eyes bright with many years of experience behind them. She was well along in years, her adult daughter sitting next to her, as well as other members of her extended family.
She was talking with Katie about her suspicion that people didn’t really love her, even if they said so. That she had a hard time taking in attention, care, or kindness. She brushed it off. Something about it was sort of….embarrassing, or worrisome.
What if, when you encounter something wonderful, when you hear beautiful words you love, when someone expresses appreciation, when you witness love in action, when something happens you enjoy….
….isn’t this also happening because it’s supposed to happen?
How do you know you’re supposed to hear it, read it, see it, feel it?
Could there be underlying thoughts buried within that prevent goodness, gentleness, or kindness from being noticed, or trusted, even when it looks favorable?
The elderly woman seemed to understand, more and more, that she may have been mistaken, as she and Katie spoke about love and receiving and trusting reality in every situation.
She realized if she had trouble with compliments and taking it all in, that this was not really personal, and she could question what she was believing about it, just the way difficult things happening in the world were also not personal.
And she could trust, if she questioned her thinking, that she was hearing what she needed to hear in that moment. Including “I love you” and “thank you so much” and “I’m very grateful to you” and “I’m glad you’re around.”
Some good questions to ask yourself, if you find you have some discomfort with attention, or gratitude, is to wonder….what do I think it means, that I’m hearing this? Do I believe I’m supposed to do something, or owe something? What’s uncomfortable about celebrating and receiving the love someone’s expressing? Or sharing how much I love someone or something?
Can you simply be with this joy?
When someone first sent me a donation about eight years ago, I received it in an envelope in the mail. $10. I checked my calendar. Did I miss something? This must be a mistake. I don’t think this was an outstanding bill. Then I saw an email sent separately, and it said simply “thank you for the work you do.”
A few months went by, and I received a paypal donation. $300. What is this? I looked around in my calendar again and wondered if I forgot about an invoice or something. The donor added a note “I love your writing, it makes such a difference to me.”
What I wrote wasn’t even called Grace Notes yet. Although someone shortly after that who was in one of my teleclasses said “send these examples of The Work that you write about out to the world and call them Grace Notes!”
OK. They were named. I didn’t name them myself.
Then a little time went by, and someone sent $20, a few more weeks or months, another person sent $10, then someone sent $100. Then someone sent $600! People I never met before in my life, sending little notes of appreciation and sums of money from time to time. Sometimes a long while in between, then here comes something again.
Last week I received two donations in one week, both in the old-fashioned regular mail.
One was from a woman who took the money teleclass this past year. She sent me a map of her hike with the trail highlighted in sparkly orange and fine purple pens, and a fabulous note written all around the edges and two crisp $20 bills.
“The world in front of me is only ever kind….I am enjoying your Grace Notes while on the trail.”
The other was an absolutely beautiful card with a check for $50 and such kind, thoughtful words.
You have no idea how much it means to me to receive these personal notes, this expression of appreciation (and I love how that word appreciation is used in financial terms, too). Sometimes, people have sent gorgeous sharing of their stories and appreciation without money and this is also brilliantly beautiful.
Somehow, it continues to show me where to move and how to move. Without readers, there would be nothing here, and I suppose that would be OK too.
Yet I see we share in all this together, and I am so deeply moved by your generosity, so thank you for being here. In whatever form you’re doing it. Seriously.
You are awesome.
I give you a deep bow, to your precious unique life, and the One Mind life we all seem to have that loves getting on board the peace train, together.
P.S. Although it does cost money and involve time and energy and “work”, Year of Inquiry is a deep investment in freedom for your mind and questioning stressful thoughts of so many kinds. Last year, several people in YOI suggested they’d like to create a scholarship fund to help current YOI members travel who had only signed up for the teleclasses but couldn’t get all the way to Seattle for the fall and spring retreats because of the expense. It was so generous. It is indeed an opportunity to receive, share, get connected, and watch the world as it supports you. I love the people who join. And by the way, two men are already signed up (these programs tend to be well attended by women). Join us! (Deadline to sign up is August 31st). Read about it here.
One of the more frightening times in my life was when I had no money and had to find a job ASAP.
It felt like a major emergency.
I tried to sell my house (no takers, couldn’t sell it for even the amount I owed on it), I had been on 20 job interviews, I had borrowed $6000 from a family member, my credit card was at the highest level as I had used it for groceries, and I was late on a mortgage payment.
Things looked very bleak when it came to money and work.
When I asked people to share with me their top stressful thoughts a few weeks ago, I had quite a few sharing “I need to get a job”.
The urgency and fear around getting a job can escalate with our scary images of what will happen if I do NOT get a job. I’ll lose my house, my car, my possessions, my sanity. I’ll never recover from these losses. Other people might even suffer (if you have dependents).
As I did The Work at that time 8 years ago on my dreadful feelings of panic about not getting work, a dear friend and facilitator asked me a powerful question:
What’s the worst that could happen?
Not insanely-wild-imagination-worse-case-scenario…but very likely what could happen that’s really, really bad.
So for example, even if my mind might imagine I’d be dying of starvation on the street, owning nothing, my kids given away to relatives to be raised….I really deeply knew this simply would not ever happen. I know too many people who I love and adore and who also love me. I’d have places to stay most likely. I really couldn’t see myself dying of not having work or money. Not really.
But I could see a worst case scenario that I was indeed quite terrified could happen: I’d have to go live in my mother’s basement with my two kids.
I pictured having to wake up at 5 am to drive them miles if I wanted to keep them in the same schools with the friends they knew. I felt horrible imagining their lives being further disrupted (there was already a divorce, just finalized).
I pictured feeling burdened by living with my mom, that she and I would drive each other crazy. We’d fight over refrigerator space, or chores (like when I was 13). I was sure I’d be such a loser, I’d hate myself and had an image of never recovering, never really coming back from the divorce or the failure–even though I was only 44 and could live many more years possibly.
I had thoughts like “my life is almost over” and “I should have gone to medical school” and how my life so far had been a huge mistake, I should have seen it coming, blah blah blah.
That mind will kick into high gear with incredibly alarming voices, words, shouts, pictures, and the resulting feelings of panic.
I felt abandoned.
My primary intense thoughts: I need money, I need a job. This is horrible.
Is it true?
YES! Can’t you see my bills?! (I thought at the time)?! How can you even ASK this question—of COURSE I need more money and I need a job in order to get it!
Can you absolutely know it’s true you need more money, and a job?
Yes. I felt so sure. I maybe had a tiny sliver of awareness that I would still be breathing without money or a job. I could see that I still had a car in my driveway, some food in my cupboards, and a beautiful rug on the floor.
Honestly, I could see in that very moment that it was not absolutely, 100% required I get a job immediately, or I would die on the spot. I was scaring myself with pictures of a slow decline and death, failing miserably and never recovering. But I had no idea what life would really look like, and I could see I was OK in that moment.
So no, I couldn’t absolutely know I needed a job and money NOW.
How did I react when I believed I needed money and a job NOW!?
My hands were bunched in two tight fists. My whole body was tense. I couldn’t sleep. I had to pace. I was sick to my stomach and not eating so well. I was frantic when I looked at job boards, and combed through online HR departments. I’d change and re-change my resume. I’d ask myself “what am I missing?” and wonder where else I could try to find work. I’d apply to everything that even slightly fit my qualifications.
My attitude, at that time, towards work was that it was a sucky thing you had to do for money. Money was required, and this world was set up poorly because of it. I didn’t even really WANT to work. I had never had a fun job.
My beliefs were that jobs were dull, you had to do what the boss says, and you get rewarded for your compliance with money and health care. SLAVE for money.
If I was on a dating site, thinking a relationship was a required pain-in-the-ass but you need it to survive life, like the way I believed I was forced to work full time to survive in life….I’d be the worst partner ever. Desperate.
So who would I be without this terrible, disheartening, frightening story that I needed more money and definitely must have a job?
Kind of weird to wonder about NOT having this thought, when it appears you have a stack of bills, and debt, and you might even lose your house, right?
But let’s do it anyway.
It’s just an exercise in meditating on this very stressful belief about having to have a job, like I’m forced into something–I’m very small and tiny and needy, and life is big and dangerous and has the security–but only if you work and are willing to do things you don’t even care about doing.
Who would I be without that terrible attitude? Without the belief I’ve been abandoned? Without the belief that life is out to break me down into a pulp? That I’m on my way to losing it all?
Without that story?
I could see in that moment of no work, and the resentment chip on my shoulder (more like the size of a small boulder)….
….my mind was surrounded by a suffocating dark cloud when it came to thinking about work, jobs, house payments, bosses, office buildings.
So could I really go there, considering what it would be like without that story?
What if I just got here from another planet, and had no reference for jobs, working, interviews, resumes, applications, boredom at work, having to do what bosses tell you?
What if I had no history to compare to? What if I was in this position and it was a game, like landing here for the very first time, putting on a human suit, and seeing what I might conjure up when it comes to this whole money-job thing?
Oh…that’s what it would be like, without this dreadful thought I needed a job in order to survive!
I could take a deep breath, clap my hands together, and say “I’m in!”
I might think about working anywhere, without judgment. Maybe I’d ask way more people about work, and different people than I’d been asking. I could make an announcement in places I went every day, like the dance I attended each week and was trading work for my entrance fee. Or at the grocery store check out.
Maybe I’d send an email to everyone in my address book, and basically if it was a game where I had to move quickly, I might hit the streets and start asking everyone I ran into if they knew anyone who needed help. Perhaps I’d talk to the people at the bus stop, all of whom were headed at rush hour to jobs in downtown.
More and more ideas might pour into my mind, if my attitude was open, unafraid. Even if I didn’t get a job, I would know I went down doing my best….and that alone would feel good. It would make a great story.
She lived in the basement of her mother’s house, but only after going to 100 job interviews, handing out her resume to people walking the streets of downtown, asking for everyone’s attention at the local coffee shop and with a loud voice and a smile, saying I’m looking for work.
Turns out….I never needed to all of those wild bold things, but without the belief I need a job and money like an emergency, terrified…..my mind got very creative. How fun to begin to brainstorm, just like all the engineers on the ground in Houston who were putting their minds together to bring Apollo 13 back to earth.
That’s who I was without my belief I need a job in order to survive. Excited. Confident. Ready to die trying. Willing.
Turning the thought around: I do NOT need a job or more money. A job needs me! (Turned out to be true). I already have a job, which is to question my fear in that situation, and live more joyfully. I choose to find a job and have fun acquiring money, not feel forced and like a victim about it.
If it had been my last day on earth….would I have wanted to be freaking out because I didn’t have a job?
I also imagined the beauty of the turnaround that I might go live with my mother. How could that be fantastic, like the best thing EVER?
I’d get to know my mom way more, in my 40s. She’d get to know these two grandchildren far better, my kids. We’d be getting to live in a 3-generation household. I’d downsize even more, and I love having few possessions and traveling light. I’d get to know a new neighborhood (where my mom lived) for daily walks. I’d do The Work on my mom and she’d do The Work on me, it could be brilliant for discovering and un-doing old beliefs about us both. I wouldn’t have a mortgage! I might find a job in that new neighborhood, maybe something I liked because I’d have more time to be selective.
If I don’t get a job soon, the WORST that could happen is having to move into my mom’s basement….turned around….the BEST that could happen is having to move into my mom’s basement!
Wow, that was starting to sound true!
When I got a job offer, only about a week later, I was practically disappointed I didn’t get to move in with my mom and take on that amazing adventure of being with her in a new and different way.
Can you find benefits for your worst fears coming true?
Can you feel the relief at not having the thought you Must Have a job yesterday? Can you find examples that you actually have a job right now….called questioning your suffering about work and money?
Who would you be without your story?
“My job is to delete myself. If there were a bumper sticker representing my life, it would say CTRL-ALT-DELETE: THEWORK.COM. That’s where I invite everyone to come join me. Join me and delete your own beautiful self. That’s the only place where we CAN meet. I call it love.” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names For Joy
This month my world is full of inquiry about body, diseases, conditions, ailments.
Year of Inquiry is looking at body, Eating Peace Process is looking at body.
And yesterday morning, a powerful stressful worksheet appeared. On the mind itself.
We’ve all probably had those kinds of thoughts about the mind itself. It’s not to be trusted, it’s over-thinking, it’s freaking out, it should stop believing.
The thought brought forward for inquiry?
“My mind is sabotaging what I want.”
Suddenly I remembered working with someone a long time ago who made an appointment to do The Work because she wasn’t doing the law of attraction right. She thoughts was supposed to be thinking positively at all times, apparently, and feeling peaceful or excited despite not having such peaceful thoughts. She felt she was failing at getting what she wanted, because of her own brain.
This is a truly amazing story to question. I’ve been there myself.
If I just question my thinking enough….I’ll get somewhere different.
Now, it’s weird, because you WILL probably get somewhere different, at least I’ve found this to be deeply true, and yet “trying” to get somewhere different can be exceptionally stressful–and it means, inherently, that here, now, is NOT the place to be.
So let’s question this powerful and subtle little idea that this mind is screwing things up, and making it so you aren’t happy, you aren’t getting what you want, and your life isn’t as good as it could be.
Is it true?
Well….yeah! Right? I’ve heard Katie and other thought leaders say that all problems are in the mind. So this brain is a problem! It should be different!!
Are you sure? Can you absolutely know this to be true?
Apparently thinking happens, and it’s sometimes stressful, and sometimes exciting. It doesn’t appear to go away just because we tell it to.
Thinking happens, I notice. Stressful thinking.
I really can’t know it’s true it should be otherwise.
How do you react when you believe your mind isn’t working well enough, or you can’t achieve what you want because of YOUR thinking, or abilities to work with thought?
The woman who did The Work with me on everything that was wrong with her mind and her thoughts was disappointed when she believed her mind should be different. She felt hopeless, unhappy, not as happy as those other people with better minds
This thought, about thought, is a tricky little thought, isn’t it?
But who would you be without this belief, or this assessment, that the mind is screwing things up, sabotaging what you want, making it so you’re unsuccessful?
I’d look around this present moment, little twinkling lantern lights out through the window, and experience the flash of no mind for a second. Not Knowing. Not necessary to know.
I’d watch those wild thoughts careening around, swinging in the wind, giving orders and suggestions and having images and ideas….
….and not take the whole condition seriously.
Or, there goes the mind again, taking another lap.
Woman on couch with a thinking brain with activity happening in it, not being against “thought”.
What if All This is not up to me?
What if fixing, contorting, changing, updating, improving the mind is not possible as a project? What if this mind is somehow the way it is, and there’s nothing I can actually do about it?
(And, I notice I can question the thoughts it produces).
Kind of amazing, right?
Turning the thought around: my mind is NOT sabotaging what I want. What I want is what’s happening. What I want is here, now….not in the future, later (which I’m aware does not yet exist).
Could this be just as true, or truer?
So exciting to think there’s nothing missing, and no enemy sabotaging me, and nothing dangerous about my mind.
How is this true?
Why, I’m alive now at this perfect moment able to look around, breathe, see, take in this environment. What if nothing was wrong?
What if this mind was just right, doing a brilliant job at inventing, imagining, believing, questioning….and it’s not ultimately up to “me” (whatever “me” is)?
“Mediocrity, that’s the place to be. Balance. There’s something wrong? There’s something right! But the ego is in opposition to that everything-is-right nature. It gets very invested.” ~ Byron Katie in Being With Byron Katie Ojai Feb 2017
It’s perfect to be this way, brain that gets set off. And who knows if the mind has anything to do with getting what’s wanted, or not.
But I do know, when I question my thinking, right now is pretty dang good. Nice that I get to notice that reality, including my “mind”, is doing a fabulous job being itself.
The first Friday inquiry jam, where people can connect via phone or internet from anywhere in the world, was so powerful just a few days ago (mark your calendar for First Friday of April 7:45 am PT, we’ll do it again).
We began as always with everyone filling out their own Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on a stressful situation, some exchange or moment in time where something happened unpleasant. Something disturbed us. Something felt off, or scary, or sad.
Someone raised their hand (you get to push *2 and I see the alert on my computer). This lovely inquirer said she has so many moments where she felt anxious or upset….where should she begin?
I’ve had a few of those people or moments in my life (OK, more than a few) where it felt like the same “problem” was reoccurring over and over. Or the same dilemma, or same uncomfortable conversation.
The best thing I know to do is to really freeze frame only one of those moments in time, and hold very still with it as you write down your judgments about that situation, without one single ounce of editing yourself. Be childish, critical, petty, ridiculous.
What moment should you choose, you ask?
Why, the one where you felt the most fear, intensity, sadness, rage, fury, irritation, or hurt. That one. Where the scene of the crime was The Worst.
I found, if I go back to that one, and write everything I believe that’s stressful down, about that one moment….
….then the following or other moments that “weren’t so bad by comparison” will also fall into place. (And if they don’t, you can still do The Work on them).
This movement into The Worst moment takes some courage sometimes. Because you might remember a moment that’s really, really painful. It can stir you up.
So take a very deep breath, and remember first that you’re past that moment, now. You’re safe in your chair, as you write down the thoughts. Even if the event happened yesterday, you’ve got a little break. You can give yourself this quiet space for a moment.
Not long ago I had an old flame who reappeared in my life after many years away. The relationship had spanned maybe four months grand total when it happened in real life, but I actually thought of that relationship while watching the movie LaLa Land.
Oh no, not him again. Really?
So much work on that person, a long time ago. I thought it was all squared away. But just running into him at a coffee shop made me feel sort of nauseated, and nervous. I felt jumpy, like I needed to get out of there and like I also wanted to connect and find out all about his life.
Intrigue. Mystery. Drama.
Danger Danger! (Did you hear the back-up sound of loud beeping and the red lights flashing? That’s a huge truck. Heading backwards. Meaning, the driver probably doesn’t know you’re standing right there in the middle of the alley. MOVE!!!!!)
I went home feeling kind of shaken and sad, remembering the feeling of almost being run over. Seeing pictures of being very frightened many times in that relationship, feeling nervous and pushed and chaotically excited (like when you’re on a roller coaster) and confused and never relaxed.
And then annoyed. Because I received an email from him asking to get together like it would be the easiest and most normal thing to do in the world. Not a hey, would you want to get together to have a truly honest talk about your perspective of what happened in that very tumultuous, difficult, awful time back then….but an invitation to go to a show and hang out.
Somehow, I’m thinking we weren’t in the same relationship. He had his idea of what it was like. I had mine.
And here came the stressful thoughts: He should see how crazy-time the interactions were between us in the long-distant past. He should wake up. He should quit acting like an addict….someone who blacks-out the bad times and screams it-was-the-best-thing-ever about the good times. He should stop being so grabby. Desperate. He should stop thinking that relationship was fun. Or desirable. It wasn’t.
I have to do The Work on this? Again? After all these years? Seriously?
But I knew not to start in with the criticism of myself about it all.
Because self-criticism, guilt, or shame is a cover-up and a dark alley you can easily get stuck in (if you’re like me) and fogs out deeper understanding of the actual situation. It’s like a distraction to a different shiny object, a very painful shiny object. But a distraction nevertheless.
“Until you can see the enemy as a friend, your Work is not done. This doesn’t mean that you have to invite your enemy to dinner. Friendship is an internal experience. You may never see the person again, you may even divorce him or her, but as you think about the person, are you feeling stress or peace?” ~ Byron Katie
So here’s where the invitation comes in to go back to a very troubling moment, The Worst troubling moment, rather than this recent coincidental meeting which stirred things up.
I sat down, closed my eyes, and opened up to revisiting the difficult details, and seeing what still lived within my mind about it.
I was shocked.
Judge Your Neighbor worksheet:
I am enraged with him because he sucked me into his life, and lied about the dark truth, mental illness, alcoholism and neediness behind his fake captivating personality.
I want him to apologize, instead of saying he did nothing wrong.
He should grow up, get professional help, do The Work, understand how much he terrified me.
In order to be happy, I need him to confess he almost ruined my life because of his selfish and false desires, because of his desperation for attention and love.
He is an addict, a liar, sick, dangerous, stalker, angry, disgusting.
I don’t ever want to fall prey to a love con game again. I don’t ever want to be involved with someone who attempts suicide and is mentally ill.
Just your run-of-the-mill everyday worksheet on a light chance encounter at a coffee shop. (Not).
The wonderful thing is now, I can take every single one of these concepts through the four questions and turnarounds. It doesn’t matter if it takes several months, or if I really go for it and do one a day. (I’m not the all-in-one-sitting type. Too much effort, too much to digest all at once. But nothing wrong with it if you DO like doing a whole worksheet in one sitting. Go for it!)
If you have a person you’ve thought of as needing to be rescued from themselves or their own thinking, or someone who manipulated or overwhelmed you….then join me now.
Let’s do The Work!
Starting from the top. Picture that person who drew you in, demanded a response, forced you to react, made you feel “x”. You’re a victim of their behavior. They neeeeeeeeeed you. They don’t let up. They’re high maintenance.
I’ve had sales pitches that felt this way. Organizations. Groups. Programs. Religions.
He sucked me into his life.
Is it true?
Yes. I was just innocently being me, standing there, and….
Answer the question.
He sucked you in, can you ABSOLUTELY KNOW this is true?
I saw no vacuum cleaner. No one had a knife. All that happened is conversations, time spent together, then time ending together, honestly.
No one forced me to do it.
How do you react when you believe you were sucked in, to anything?
Angry! Furious! Fist shaking! They did it to me! I was an innocent bystander! Mad at myself for not saying “no” 1000 times sooner!
So who would you be without this very painful story that you got sucked in?
You could apply the very same thought to a compulsive addictive behavior. The food compulsion sucked you in. The drugs, the alcohol, those people. You didn’t know what hit you.
Who would I be without the belief this guy sucked me in to his agony, mental illness, his need for rescuing, his sick world?
I’d notice I’m separate from him. Very. I have a world that doesn’t intersect much with this other person’s world. This is one small encounter, out of my whole life. I am not “sucked” into anything terrible.
Without the thought, I feel safer, calmer, relaxed. I’m back in my own business, feet solidly on the ground, feeling the earth and noticing how in that situation, I knew when to no longer engage.
There was no emergency.
Without the thought, I’m noticing how nothing truly terrible happened. No one died. I even went to work, went about my own life. The worst that happened, honestly, were my thoughts. No gigantic octopi descended upon me, I definitely wasn’t “sucked”.
Turning the thought around: he didn’t suck me in. I sucked him in. I sucked myself in.
Oh. Wow. Yikes.
How could these turnarounds be just as true, or truer?
I sucked him in, by telling him of my worries about life (which weren’t really true) and my love dreams (which were unrealistic) and by answering every question he asked, and by writing long involved emails to him early on. I sucked him in by asking him tons of questions about his childhood.
I sucked myself in by believing I could help, even when things began to get revealed and the true (not fake) stories started getting uncovered. I sucked myself in with worry, anxiety and feeling torn. I sucked myself in by closing my eyes to some weird behavior and pretending it was OK with me. I sucked myself in by not speaking up, or telling my own inner truth.
I even sucked myself in by swinging from bubbly attraction, to disgust, rather than feeling the solid awareness of a centered, sane, kind approach to seeing the truth. I sucked myself in to my own story of what I hoped would happen….and then sucked myself in to extreme and deep disappointment that it didn’t. I forgot my own clarity, and strength.
I sucked myself in to his agony, mental illness, his need for rescuing, his sick world…I sucked myself into my own agony, my own mental illness, my need to rescue, my sick world of believing in sick worlds.
“You are alive only in your own imagination as the thing you think you are. The story we have of ourselves is so seductive….Don’t be waiting for “next”. There is no “next”. It is enough that you are here. The more you are able to bring your attention to that which is, you will find your silence, your peace. You will discover your inherent harmony, your natural joy.” ~ Mooji
I sucked myself into a dramatic vortex of believing there was a hook. A dangerous hook, in this world. Called another human with a “big” needy personality. Who was a fish that bit the hook? That would be me.
Only, that’s not what really happened.
He did not suck me in to anything. He delivered me. He set me free from believing in emergencies, from thinking it would be awful to say “no”. From tantalizing, enmeshed relationship where I believe I’m far more important than necessary. He showed me that even when someone attempts suicide, they can live, and so can I. He showed me how wonderful my own company is, how peaceful and quiet, all by myself. How glorious.
I told a story.
And it’s completely over right now.
I see what is. Thank you.
“The thing about the past? It’s over.” ~ Byron Katie
One of my favorite Byron Katie prompts or questions to help dig down into The Work is:
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS?
The “it” of course, is your stressful belief.
What does it mean, if it’s true? What do you think it means about you, or about other people (or that one other person you’re concerned about)?
What are all the meanings you give this thought?
This question comes in especially handy if you think something stressful is a solid fact, not open to interpretation.
I am going to die. My car tire went flat. I tore my hamstring. The carpet needs vacuuming. I weigh 500 pounds. It’s raining. I have $10.19. I got married. I moved to a cottage. My husband went to live in Timbuktu. She has cancer.
If you notice something seems like an irrefutable fact, a simple fact, a thought you can’t argue with….
….and yet you notice you feel stress or pain when you think it or write it….
….it may be time to answer that question about what you think it means, if this is 100% true?
Last night I got to spend a beautiful evening at a local bookstore where I live called East West Books.
Inquirers both familiar and brand new to me came to gather and do their work about food, eating and body image.
Several of them shared their brilliantly honest worksheets about their weight, the food they feel pulled to eat, a body part they hate seeing in the mirror.
The work on the thoughts brought forward was quite incredible.
But I especially loved one woman’s thoughts about having too much weight on her body.
“I am too fat”.
And what do you think it means about you, about other people, about your life?
Ouch. Because here’s what she said, and it reminded me of my own mind attacking itself for what it thought was true.
It means I am guilty, I am wrong, my life isn’t good, I’m not happy, I can’t wear fun clothes, I can’t be seen on the beach (another inquirer quietly uttered the word “whale” about his own appearance in a bathing suit), I can’t stop worrying and thinking about food.
For some others, being heavy or assuming you’re fat means….
….no one will love you. People will criticize you. No one will be attracted to you or date you. People will think you’re lazy, or greedy.
One thing I suggest is finding a moment in time where you first learned this thought that you are indeed too heavy.
Who did you hear it from?
Because you didn’t have the belief when you were born, that’s for sure.
Where’s your proof that fatness or heaviness or something-wrong-with-this-body is actually the case here?
(If you have a vivid image, like someone else in the group last night did, of mom saying “you are too big to have stripes that circle your body, you need vertical stripes only!” at age 7, then you might have a perfectly clear moment for a situation to investigate with The Work).
When you write down what you’re thinking, the thoughts are caught on paper, not zipping out of the air around the corner.
You’re too ____. (In this case, fat).
Is it true?
How do you react when you believe this thought?
Horrible. Heavy. Despairing. So I go eat to get some sweetness and feel better.
Who would you be without this story of “I am _____” (fat, thin, tall, short, old, young, smart, dumb, sick, stupid…..and on an on, you pick your most frequent flyer).
Who would you be without the story of “I am too fat”?
Going about my business. Playing more. Doing art. Spending time with friends. The woman voicing The Work for everyone present last night said “I’d probably know a lot more people”.
Turning the thought around: I am NOT too fat. My THINKING is too fat.
Yes. My thoughts are heavy, dense, thick like flies surrounding the body, buzzing and yelling at it all the time. My thoughts are big, extra, overloaded, especially when it comes to the body. They’re focused on the body, not life, not expanding in other areas besides the body!
With the thought? Pain and suffering.
Without the thought? Light, free, living life.
“You’re either believing your thoughts, or questioning them….no other choice.” ~ Byron Katie
It may be quite disturbing at first to write down such a thought as “I am too fat”. It can be frustrating to even think about it all over again, and realize, as you write, how much you HATE this problem that’s been here since childhood.
But would you rather write down your thoughts and then take them one by one through the inquiry process known as The Work (it is work, after all) or keep on believing them?
If you’re twisted up about this topic in any way, if you’ve found yourself eating from one end of the refrigerator to the other, if you’re wondering more deeply about the connection between your weight or your eating and your thoughts….
….and accessing peace with eating, your body, food….
….the Eating Peace Process Online begins on Saturday.
Everyone enrolled receives their first writing exercise on Saturday and the first “lesson” for looking at the food, eating, body, mind. Our first calls are Tuesday 1/17 at 5:30 pm, and Thursday 1/19 8:30 am. If you’re in the program, you can come to one or both (everything’s recorded).
I can’t wait to share the practices and exercises that worked best for me in my own healing journey, so you can choose what to take into yours.
And the most important practice of all, the cornerstone of the Eating Peace Program…..The Work of Byron Katie.
Read in detail about it here. Join me if it’s time.
This coming weekend, a group will be gathering with a focus of Living Turnarounds.
What does this mean?
Well, since you’re aware of The Work, you’ll know that the very last step of questioning your thoughts is to turn them around.
As in….finding the very opposite, and not using it like an affirmation (unless this brings you joy) but instead sitting with each turnaround, no matter how weird it feels or sounds, and considering in this world of duality how it could be as true, or truer.
Sometimes the Turnarounds bring remarkable ah-ha’s, lightbulbs, awareness of what you DO have power to change, in a really loving and excited way.
Maybe you even discover where you need to make amends, to another person, or to yourself, so you bring the past to a close and you can stop regurgitating it, stop thinking about it constantly, stop trying to make it right….because you’ve done your best, and it’s now over.
When I was going through a separation and divorce, I did The Work fairly frequently on the thoughts I was experiencing that produced enormous fear about my life in the future.
I can’t do this alone, I’m abandoned, I’m lost, I’m a failure, I’m worthy of being left, I’m not able to earn enough money, I did it wrong, I’m lonely.
As I did The Work on this over time, day after day (I did The Work about three times a day during that period over ten years ago) I would find turnarounds that “clicked”.
Sometimes they scared me.
They looked like this: I can do this alone, I’m set free, I’m found, I’m a success, I’m worthy of being enjoyed, I’m able to earn enough money, I did it right, I’m connected.
I had to concentrate with my mind to find examples of each turnaround.
How could they be just as true, or truer, than my original stressful thought?
It might have felt shaky and not very confident, but I would get a different feeling inside my body, at a very deep level, as I found the turnarounds to be just as true. Why not?
Then I would consider, as I felt the new, alive, excited, fearless, thrilled, relaxed or more stable awareness within….
….how would I live this?
What could I do, say, be, think, feel, in order to live this turnaround?
What would it look like?
How would I go through my day, with the new awareness, the new feeling, living a turnaround that I was safe, creative, and able? That maybe this was an exciting changing time of wonder and joy? That I could earn enough to support myself on my own?
I signed up for a Qigong class. I took a women’s workshop on human sexuality. I enrolled in a program on women’s empowerment and joy. A friend told me about something called Ecstatic Dance where you could dance however you like without talking to anyone (I went).
I invited people I knew who were musicians over to sing together like I had done long ago (lots of piano and guitar playing and singing in my past, and I hadn’t done it for years) and called it Sing Thing. I began applying for jobs and figured out where I have something to offer, even though I had not been working full time for ten years.
My life began to blossom, to become more than it had ever been prior to this “terrible” thing called the process of divorce.
Who would YOU be without your story?
This is not a matter, I found, of making a list and “doing” it. Like setting goals you think you “should” achieve or do.
These new joys came to me because of inquiring into my deepest, most painful thoughts about what was happening….the worst that was happening.
And then feeling what it was actually like to live in this body without that thought.
There are some wonderful questions you can contemplate to help you find barriers to living the life you want, your immunity to change, the inner reasons you don’t “live” the way you think would bring you peace.
When I investigated….
….*Ping*….the idea would come to talk to a friend about energy and physical movement, and I’d be led down a road with tiny sweet breadcrumbs to “I know someone who teaches a class starting next week, you’d fit right in”.
“When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.” ~ Byron Katie
This coming Sunday is the first Living Turnarounds group October 23rd 3-6 pm northeast Seattle in Goldilocks Cottage (my house). Sign up here or hit reply to let me know you’ll be here this weekend. We’ll meet once a month through June 2017. There are some people coming from far distances, and not everyone attending this Sunday can plan on being present for every session, so that’s the way of it. If you can only come one at a time, you’re welcome. You can pay as you go.
We’ll do The Work on what stands between you and living a simple, fluid, kind and fearless life, in any area you truly desire.
Eating Peace Core Basics Teleclass starts Thursday, September 8th. We meet from 9-11 am for 3 consecutive Thursdays, then skip a week, then another 3 Thursdays. Please visit here to find out more and to register.
The truck is borrowed and in our driveway. The hard plastic storage bins are purchased in various colors, ready to be filled with what we want to keep. All the cans of old paint are piled ready to be taken to the hazardous waste station. I’ve started a pile of dump items in the middle of the back yard; completely broken chairs, moulded car seat covers, pieces of broken tile and pipes from the bathroom project several years ago.
I’ve asked my two young adult kids, and husband, to mark Labor Day weekend in their calendars for this massive overhaul work party instead of a family vacation.
That old shed is getting cleaned out, and moved to a different location in the yard. The garage is going to get smashed down, and rebuilt into a living space in the not-so-distant future.
I’ve got my sleeves rolled up. This is gonna be very satisfying!
I wake up the day before this three-day weekend full of clean-up plans, to pounding rain on the roof and a few of the plastic storage tubs filling with rain water.
Then my son calls and says….”I’ll be over soon, but I’ve really only got one day tomorrow. I’ll do the dump run, I’ll do the Goodwill run, I’ll stick around until evening….then I gotta go.”
Then my husband says….”Hey, I found a dance hall that’s OPEN on Saturday morning, so I booked it! We’ll still offer our weekend dance on Labor Day weekend!”
Then my daughter says….”I got invited to Amy’s cabin on Lopez Island leaving Saturday night. I’ll work on the garage, but I want to go!”
No one else is taking this clean-up project seriously. They are not going to help. They are too slow. They are too busy. They don’t care. I have to do everything.
Have you ever had plans, and one thing after another happens and it appears the plans you had, are not exactly going the way you thought?
When you make plans….they should THE WAY PLANNED.
Is that true?
Oh my, that is funny. Have you noticed how often things change or go unexpectedly? How often the image of the future picture is not like we thought, at all?
The other day as I noticed this thought pouncing in to my mind like a tiger, ready to attack everyone in sight for not caring, not being helpful, or for being too slow….
….I kind of chuckled.
Because almost simultaneously, I thought….oh.
How could it be a good thing, this isn’t a three-day extravaganza of laboring, but instead, only one?
Maybe the way this is going is just right. Maybe I had all this desire and plans for the way it should look, but it’s not going that way for a good reason.
Sometimes, plans and visions in the mind appear to be interesting, or desirable, but they aren’t going to happen in just that particular way, in that particular order.
And what about plans for activities that aren’t so “perfect” and ordered?
Like the plan to skip class, avoid that person you are afraid to speak truthfully to, quit your job, marry that girl….
….or what about the plan to smoke, eat, drink, calculate, steal, force something to happen that doesn’t feel good, yet you want it anyway?
The demand to have something happen can be coming from a place in you that’s like a little toddler, or desperate, or filled with this-must-happen energy….
…..or a plan can be coming from a place in you that is more, balanced, open, willing to be flexible, and doesn’t know what’s ultimately going to happen (and OK with that).
It doesn’t matter what you’re planning, really.
If you feel furious about it not going your way, you’re going to suffer.
Here are two questions I love to ask, if I notice I’m feeling anxious (or enraged) about “my” plans not going the way I want them to:
1) What am I afraid of happening, if these plans fail? What’s the worst that could happen?
2) What do I think it means about me, about other people, about this situation, if the plans do not go as I hoped or wanted?
Sometimes, I thought plans needed to go a certain way for me to feel worthy, successful, “good”. Sometimes, I thought plans need to go a certain way so I could avoid other big dangers, and to protect myself.
But what if there’s a middle way to be with plans and planning?
As I’ve heard Byron Katie mention and speak to this process of being aware of the future: If I know I’m going on a trip, I pack my bags. But I have no idea if I’m really going on the trip, until I’m on it.
Very funny, very odd for that mind that loves plans.
So today, after only one “working” day, and another in silence, writing, bicycling and only a wee bit of further clean up….
….I can see how feeling and being and noticing who I am without the mindset “they shouldn’t have cancelled, we all should be cleaning, they are too slow, this should be finished….”
….is better than I ever could have planned.
“When you make plans and replay them in your mind, you may be projecting that the future is going to be more important than the now. But it’s not. Being one with what you’re doing, is being totally into what you are doing “now”. The energy is not diverted from what you’re doing “now” (planning) and into the future. What you are doing now (even if it’s planning) is this, here, now.” ~ Eckhart Tolle in conversation with Oprah Winfrey on video
So even the activity of planning happens, then we get to see what really happens, trusting reality, speaking up if it’s right, sharing.
I enjoy the alive, present activity of planning, if planning is called for and feels right.
I notice my legs and feet were so tired Saturday, they were throbbing by 9:00 pm. Everyone pitched in gloriously, and I loved everyone knew what they wanted to go off and do for the rest of the long weekend, enjoying themselves.
I’ve gotten a break, and writing time.
Now, I notice, is sweet. The emptier shed (not completely empty yet). The space for a dinner date with my husband, rather than working. The writing of this Grace Note. The opening of my fall calendar and noticing some items to “plan” for.
Peace, here now.
Even as a house project is apparently unfinished.
P.S. Speaking of planning….I’m sharing my Eating Peace video today even if you have no interest or concern with eating issues, because it’s about so much more than eating. You have to plan, is that true? You have to avoid something, is that true? The only way to stop agonizing about something is to succumb to it….is that really true?
In the past year, I’ve received a few questions from people connected to the Institute for The Work (ITW) about credits for programs I offer, but especially Year of Inquiry.
(In case you’re not familiar with ITW, it’s a very thorough in-depth training and certification program in Facilitation of The Work created by Byron Katie and many others in 2008).
I finally decided to write to the institute friends and ask about whether or not Year of Inquiry could offer more credits for these folks training to become certified facilitators.
Just the other day, I found out….not yet.
First, I need to offer some of their teleclasses inside the Institute, and teach their curriculum.
It makes sense. They need to see me in action as a teacher, get evaluations from people taking the courses, get super familiar with the curriculum inside ITW.
I had this little let-down though.
I had gotten all excited. They ran it by Katie. It sounded like I might very well be able to call my one year program the equivalent to a 9 day School for The Work plus 80 more hours of partner training in facilitation.
That would have been a lot of credits people could get, for taking Year of Inquiry!
Have you ever found out some exciting, maybe unexpected news….and thought Oh Cool! That sounds great!
You get excited and have visions of the way it will be.
It was like a little journey inside the head….I might be able to offer ALL THOSE CREDITS to people….wowwee!
Imagination goes off on thrilled tangent at how awesome it is because more people will like this and sign up, it will help them, this is an acknowledgement of the beauty of the program.
Then….wait. No, it turns out. Not gonna happen.
Imagination goes off on a disappointed tangent. Too bad because now no one will sign up, people like credits so they won’t like this, I’m doing it wrong.
It is HILARIOUS how the mind runs rampant with one new idea, and what it thinks it means, all in a course of literally a few days.
Now, here’s the great, great, great and I mean great news about all this.
There was a strong part of me, a place I was looking from the whole time, that was unmoved and completely undisturbed.
It had no idea what would be best here. It watched with a neutral eye.
It’s like there was a twinkle of fun in the whole thing.
And I notice plans for Year of Inquiry moving forward, with joy, with or without credits.
How do I know I’m supposed to carry on, and for now it doesn’t matter? It feels right. It feels brilliant and exciting.
It feels like the perfect format for some people, those who don’t care about certification credits (just like it’s always been so far) who want to keep returning to The Work over and over, week after week, every month, all year.
Year of Inquiry is for those who want to answer the four questions deeply without giving up or quitting, or dreaming of doing The Work without DOING it.
I organized it because I needed it, and I still love it.
The most remarkable people tend to show up. This is not surprising. People who know they want to quiet themselves down, slow their minds down, and become more loving and kind with the world and with themselves.
Who would I be without the story that having mega-credits to offer participants in Year of Inquiry would have been the better outcome?
Trusting. Happy. Laughing.
Thrilled to implement the newer format I have planned, and the longer 4 day retreats for both autumn and spring, and the new webinar that’ll be at the beginning of each month on the topic with guidance through a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, and the more in-depth partner work for those who want it, and the monthly in-person group again.
Who would you be, right in this moment, without the belief that it should have gone that other way? The way you were hoping it might go, even if just for awhile?
Who would you be without the belief that you should have been with that other partner, or it would have been better in the other job or position, or it would have been better if you got the second house instead of the first, or it would be better if you had a possible $25 instead of the $10 in your hand right now, or you had gotten the green one instead of the red one?
Turning the thought around: the way it’s going is perfect. Everything unfolding in just the right timing, in just the right way, for the highest good for all.
Can you find this feeling within, for your situation?
How could this be as true, or truer, for the Year of Inquiry program?
Well, I don’t have to evaluate others on their facilitation skills or their awareness, or for any reason at all. I don’t need to “grade” anyone. Or myself. I’m learning from everyone there.
People can come to Year of Inquiry to immerse themselves in however much inquiry they want, it’s all optional, there’s nothing mandatory or required. It’s sooooo easy for me (and what I’ve been learning is true about life–that nothing’s required–even when I think something is).
I get to relax and see who shows up, and notice how quiet, peaceful and silent this moment is right now….no matter what’s going on in the mind.
I can do whatever I want, make changes whenever I want, take suggestions and new ideas whenever I want. Last year we started an in-person group because someone in YOI wanted more face-to-face contact. Bam. It was created.
How would I ever possibly be able to know that the other alternative I was dreaming of for a few days….would have been better?
How do I know it wasn’t supposed to happen? It didn’t.
That goes for everything that didn’t happen.
“The past is an illusion (over). The future is an illusion (not happened yet) so any time you’re worried, you’re worried over….Nothing. That’s how friendly the Universe is.” ~ Byron Katie in Being With Byron Katie 2016
“Return is the movement of the Tao. Yielding is the way of the Tao.” ~ Tao Te Ching #40
P.S. If you have the idea you might love doing The Work for a year with other marvelous and interesting people….and you wonder if The Work could really be helpful for you….I’ll be offering two live masterclass webinars in August on how to dissolve barriers to your process in The Work, when Year of Inquiry is still open for early-bird registration. August 4 or August 9. More soon. Just a little heads-up special for Grace Note readers.
I love when people write to me about problems they’re having, and ask me to write a Grace Note on it. I have a folder of these requests and notes and I rotate them all in, one by one.
A powerful problem, with big repetitive pain, is not sleeping well. Someone shared with me recently how far she’s come with the story of suffering from sleep disturbance.
She started doing The Work on sleep year before last during Year of Inquiry. Her general attitude got a whole lot lighter without the belief she SHOULD be sleeping more, longer, better, faster.
Without the simple belief that the way you sleep is bad….
….it can be a weird, but enormous relief.
What if the way I’m sleeping (shorter than I think is needed, too light, too erratic, too off hours, too interrupted) is just The Way It Is?
I can still seek assistance, consult sleep specialists, research….
….but I’m not wringing my hands with worry or rage about it. I’m simply following directions to study my condition, hear what others know.
When I was going through a divorce, and after my very first School for The Work with Byron Katie, my life was turned upside down and inside out.
Everything was going differently than I ever planned or imagined.
I was scared at a very deep level, and also cut loose at a very deep level (in a good way). There were 9 months or so of a very rough patch….in a deep I-Don’t-Know state of mind, everything exquisitely new, everything painfully new.
I slept four hours a night.
No matter what time I went to bed, I was awake by 3:00 am. The wee, silent, looming, haunting, magical, meditative hours in the dark night.
I did The Work on the belief that I should sleep, and soon learned to relax with Not Sleeping. I noticed I couldn’t say for sure if my lack of sleep was because of stress and anxiety, or excitement and liberation.
The inquirer who had done a lot of investigation on her difficulties with sleep wrote to me and asked about some other persistent thoughts, directed at herself, when it came to beliefs about not sleeping.
She had thoughts like “I need to change” or “I can’t live like this.”
She asked if these were also appropriate to do The Work on, even though she wasn’t sooooo against her lack of sleep anymore, after doing The Work.
A great question.
And here’s the thing about this question.
It show the places left where what you’re looking at still seems to be a problem. I see it. It’s bad. I see it. It’s wrong. There is something wrong with me.
People think this about a lot more than just sleep issues.
I have a series of difficult boyfriends. I do The Work on all of them. Then I get another one, and he also doesn’t work out. “There must be something wrong with me.”
I lose my job. I do The Work on not needing any more money, and noticing I survive without income. Yet I still want to feel stable and secure, and it makes sense to have a good career. I go to interviews, and still….nothing. I wonder if there’s something wrong with me?
I try to quit coffee. It’s my only “vice” (besides being addicted to certain stories, LOL). I do inquiry, study myself, write my thoughts, talk it out, delve into my motivations. And still, I just don’t mind drinking a cup of coffee every morning. There must be something wrong with me.
What I see over and over again, is the belief “there is something wrong with me” is a reactive thought to the situation feeling threatening.
At least for me, I only think “there must be something wrong here…I guess it’s with me” when I’m reacting to my underlying belief that there’s a terrible problem, and the way through it is to figure out what’s wrong…..and let’s start with me.
Here’s a weird thought.
What if what’s happening is not your fault?
What if you are the way you are for very important, brilliant, gentle reasons? What if today, you don’t even have to know what those reasons are, if you don’t?
What if life brings these conditions along and they are to be addressed, of course….not ignored….and we simply continue, explore, feel, wonder, investigate, and act.
I remember thinking once, during my long short-sleep period when I would feel dizzy sometimes, and exhausted, and unable to concentrate….
….if this continues for the rest of my life, I’m fine with it.
I might have gone to doctors, and sleep experts, yes….
….just like when I needed money I kept applying for jobs and going to interviews and talking with people I knew about money, work, careers….
….but I wanted to enjoy this day, if it was my last one, if there was no future, if I never “solved” this problem of lack of sleep, lack of money, lack of love, something missing, something wrong, something wrong with me.
“….It just comes to you what to do. You can find everything you need to know right where you are. And in reality, you already live that. When you need a pen, you reach over and you take it. If there’s not a pen there, you go get one. And that’s what it’s like in an emergency. Without fear, what to do is just as clear as reaching and picking up a pen. But fear isn’t so efficient. Fear is blind and deaf. ” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is pg. 280
Today, if you notice you have a problem like poor sleeping (or lack of money, or loneliness, or poor health) and you think it’s hurting you or your life, you can keep doing The Work, and you can also keep moving towards the solutions…..both.
As I ask for input and help, as I research and explore, as I question my stressful thoughts, things change.
A cup fell from my hand as I washed it this morning and reached to put it in the cupboard. It smashed on the floor.
What happened next, was I went to get the broom, and I picked up the chunks of broken mug and put them in the garbage, swept and vacuumed. It was one of my very favorite cups. But for such an event as this, there was almost-zero thought it was sad. I already know there are other cups to drink from, and cups I’ve had in the past that no longer exist.
That cup is no longer required, even though a part of me loved that cup and even in writing this, part of my mind is wondering for a sec where it came from so I can replace it. But I notice I don’t try to figure it out or go on the internet to find it.
I’m fine with it.
Here’s the craziest thing. The ultimate turnaround.
What if what is happening, is perfect, and should be happening? Can I find the advantages? Can I relax, even as this condition persists (apparently)? Can I hold still and allow things to support me in this moment, like the floor, or the couch, or the bed (which support me whether I “allow” it or not)?
This is not a despairing letting go, like a hopeless, why-bother, who-cares-anymore, something-wrong-with-me letting go. It feels like deep intimate staying. Connected to this present moment, to the air, to the sounds. Opening to new ideas, new possibilities, new answers.
What if this was not insurmountable, unbearable, impossible, ….being here right now?
“If you desire healing, let yourself fall ill let yourself fall ill.”