I am a fan of ‘The Work’ by Byron Katie, author and speaker. Her program is intended to be “a simple, yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and question thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world.” ‘The Work’ is based on four main questions, and a turn-around.
The four main questions being: One-Is it true? (yes or no); if no, move to question three; Two- Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (yes or no) Three- How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought? Four- Who would you be without that thought? The turn-around is broken down into: A) to the self, B) to the other, C) to the opposite
I like these questions because they get right to the root of our thoughts. So often, when we are upset, we are in reaction mode and no longer listening from that deeper space within ourselves. These four questions help us to break down what has triggered us, and allow us to be more present and less reactive.
An example, given on Byron Katie’s website: “Paul doesn’t listen to me about his health.” Next we ask, “Is that true?” and, if so, we ask, “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?” I’d take a moment here, and ask, is there any way to actually know what someone else does or doesn’t hear? The way we may expect them to respond is not necessarily a marker for whether they heard us or not. “How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?” I really love this question because it causes us to look at our reactions based on assumptions. The final question being, “Who would you be without this thought?” This question is asking us to take responsibility for ourselves, and how we allow ourselves to be confined by our own reactions. For the turn-around we would state: A) To the self, (I don’t listen to myself about my healh.) B) To the other, (I don’t listen to Paul about his health.) C) to the opposite, (Paul does listen to me about his health.) The turn-arounds are meant to bring reflection. They ask us to view our thoughts more full circle, and question them.
One other concept on Byron’s site that I just adore is an idea she calls, “Staying in Your Own Business.” She states, “I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s… Anything that’s out of my control, your control, and everyone else’s control – I call that God’s business.” She goes on to say, “Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, “You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself,” I am in your business or in God’s business, the effect is separation… I realized every time in my life that I had felt hurt or lonely, I had been in someone else’s business.” I personally find this a brilliant awareness. It really asks us to stop and take notice of our emotions, and to evaluate where the foundation of facts are that we are building them on. So often, we are caught up in the ‘shoulds’ of life, which are clearly just beliefs we hold that keep us feeling safe, and very often they are someone else’s or God’s business.
Katie points out that so often, by making ourselves aware of whose business we are actually focusing on, we will quickly come to see how often we are not present to our own lives. Perhaps we fill ourselves with other peoples’ business just to create turmoil in our own. In my Transformational Coaching Method program we came to learn how many people struggle with “Being okay with being okay.” Being okay can mean you can relax, and so many people are not able to do that, so they stir up turmoil to make themselves more comfortable. How does that land for you? I found that to be quite a powerful truth.
The next time you find yourself filled with stress, I want you to ask yourself the four main questions from ‘The Work’ by Byron Katie, and give yourself time to reflect on the turn-arounds. As you start to settle into yourself, ask yourself whose business you are in, and if it’s not yours, allow yourself to disengage. If you are uncomfortable disengaging, then take a moment and celebrate your awareness of that.