Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com
This is the 5th and final post in my series on The Work by Byron Katie. Where the first 4 posts dealt with the 4 questions that really make up The Work, the final step in the process deals with turning your thoughts, your convictions around to open yourself to the possibility that the opposite thought might be just as true as your current belief.
Before I dive in, here are the 4 questions again with the links to each post:
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who or what would you be without the thought?
Once you’ve taken a thought through these 4 questions, you take that single thought, and all the other negative thoughts that may have come up during the process, and you try to turn them around by making/writing/thinking an opposite thought. Then you see where, how and when that opposite statement could also be true. Let me show you through one of my own examples:
Turn it around
In the first post, I tackled the thought ‘my mother is disappointed in me’. After taking it through the 4 questions, I now want to look at the opposite thought or idea and see if that could be true to some degree as well.
Now, I have a few different options when finding the opposite of this thought, depending on which part of the thought I turn around.
Here are some examples:
- My mother is not disappointed in me.
- I am disappointed in my mother.
- My mother is proud of me.
All of the thoughts above contradict the initial thought in some way, and all of them could be true to some degree. I took the first thought that came to me as I was going through the process, and that was the sentence ‘My mother is proud of me’.
My mother is proud of me. Could that be true to a degree? Could I find one instance, just one, in which I might believe my mother to be proud of me? Well, yes. I’m able to support myself financially and care for my two children even though I’m currently still on a single income. I believe she’s proud of me for being able to take care of myself in that way. There, that’s one example that contradicts the belief I hold.
Are there any other examples? Well, I can think of a few more that come up, such as the poem I put on this blog for Mother’s Day or the way I act in my current relationship. Through finding these instances, I start to see that the opposite statement to my initial thought is also true, perhaps even equally true or maybe, in this case, even more true than the initial one.
What does this turnaround do for me? What is the impact?
Well, it allows me to relate to my mother in a much kinder, more loving way because I don’t need to push away the initial thought and feel the resentment about them. I am able to own up to where I might perhaps have let her down (after checking whether that’s really the case) because I know that’s only part of the truth. There’s more balance in the thoughts which leaves more room for all sides of the story.
Now, what sometimes triggers me in Byron Katie’s approach is that it seems that you have to believe the opposite thought to be true. For me, any approach that entails something you ‘have to’ believe is by default a failed one. I may theorically agree that for every truth there is an opposite that is equally true, but when I’m in the middle of feeling really angry, hurt or scared, I do need space for my mind to first be where it is, before it can move on. I need to feel the pain before I can get to the healing, if that makes any sense. So in the process, it’s very important for me to not skip over the emotional work, which would sometimes be my natural tendency.
Over the past few weeks, The Work has popped up in my head often while I was dealing with certain thoughts. It helps me put things into perspective on a cognitive level, though I still work separately on emotional issues attached to it.
I hope you’ve found these posts informative. If you want to read any more on The Work by Byron Katie, you can check out her website here.
‘Til next time!