Power of Now & Loving What Is

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I blogged last! J and I took a much-needed backpacking trip and I was able to go way introverted and finish Loving What Is, practice The Work (Byron Katie’s method of practicing inquiry), and continue re-reading Power of Now.

Both of these books have allowed me to continue my practice of self-awareness and self-growth through focusing on the present moment, observing my thoughts, observing my feelings, and trying to stay enough in the present that the thoughts and feelings pass instead of attach, linger, fester, grow, turn into monsters, etc.

Byron Katie’s The Work has been amazingly helpful for me this week. I had blogged about her method before about seven months ago, albeit briefly, as I had found her free materials online. I am so glad I was finally able to read Loving What Is!

Here is her method:

Take an upsetting, frustrating, etc situation or person and use it to fill out the following statements and questions:

-Who anger, confuses, saddens, or disappoints you, and why? What is it about them that you don’t like? 
“I am (angry, frustrated, sad, annoyed, irritated, etc) at (Name) because (blank).”
-How do you want them to change? Wht do you want them to do?
“I want (Name) to (blank).”
-What is it that they should or shouldn’t do, be, think, or feel? What advice could you offer?
“(Name) should (blank).” 
-Do you need anything from them? What do they need to do in order for you to be happy?
“I need (Name) to (blank).”
-What do you think of them? Make a list. Remember, be petty and judgmental.
“(Name) is (blank).”
-What is it that you don’t want to experience with that person again?
“I don’t ever want to or refuse to (blank).”

Then, with every statement that you wrote, apply these questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
and
Turn it around (to the self, to the opposite, 180 degrees; there could be others), and find three genuine examples of how the turnaround is true in your life.

I’ll provide my example of the Work I have done with J’s mom as the subject (bear with me, it’s a long one! also, you will see I don’t follow the steps exactly, but you’ll get the point):

-I’m disappointed by J’s mom because she is not open-minded, tolerant, or accepting of different lifestyles. She was mean and hostile during our video chat. She hasn’t reached out to me since to talk or apologize.
-I want her to be more open-minded. I want her to reach out to me and to love me.
-She should be loving, self-aware, and communicative. She should not be self-righteous or so closed-minded.
-I need her to give me a big hug, tell me she loves me no matter what, and that she is happy we’re happy.
-She is sad, hostile, bitter, childish, and self-righteous.
-I refuse to have a conversation with her again where she tells me that J and I are like pedophiles, that our relationship is shit, and not worth celebrating. I refuse to be verbally abused.

Statement 1: she is not open-minded, tolerant, or accepting of different lifestyles
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel victimized, left out, misunderstood, and marginalized
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel at peace with myself
Turn it around: I am not open-minded, etc (2 examples: I am not open-minded of how she has lived her life; I am not tolerant of people I see as bigots)

Statement 2: She was mean and hostile during our video chat
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad and victimized
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel more amused and compassionate
Turn it around: I was hostile during our video chat (3 examples: I rolled my eyes; I felt attacked and communicated to protect my threatened sense of self; I raised my voice)

Statement 3: She hasn’t reached out to me since to talk or apologize
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Yes
—> In this instance, since I answered “Yes” to both questions, a follow up phrase that can help get at the underlying issue is to add “and it means that” to the original statement (there are other ways of doing this, including listing what “should” have happened, and making a list of the “proof” you have for your statement, and then continuing on). So I made this statement: She hasn’t reached out to me since to talk or apologize and it means that she doesn’t love me.
Then, I would answer the first question as No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel depressed and mournful, like I am grieving
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel more peaceful
Turn it around: I haven’t reached out to her to talk or apologize (this is just as true as the original statement), and rewritten- I haven’t reached out to her to talk or apologize and it means that I don’t love her (I don’t feel like I like her very much right now, even though I do love her. So in a way this is true)

Statement 4: I want her to be more open-minded.
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel desperate.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel more relaxed in myself
Turn it around: I want to be more open-minded (2 examples: I want to unconditionally accept her; I want to reach out to her)

Statement 5: She should be loving, self-aware, and communicative. She should not be self-righteous or so closed-minded.
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No- she is how she is
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad and victimized.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would be more at peace
Turn it around: I should be loving, self aware, and communicative. I should not be self-righteous or closed-minded (2 examples: I haven’t been loving towards her in my mind; I have been self-righteous and feeling superior and “more evolved” than her)

Statement 6: I need her to give me a big hug, tell me she loves me no matter what, and that she is happy we’re happy.
1. Is it true? No- that’s not reality
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad and lonely and invalidated.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would feel complete
Turn it around: I need me to give me a big hug and tell me I love me no matter what, and that I’m happy we’re happy (Ex: I haven’t been very self-compassionate or loving to myself, and instead of have been critical of myself)

Statement 7: She is sad, hostile, bitter, childish, and self-righteous.
1. Is it true? No- I don’t really know how she is
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel sad for her and sad for myself.
4. Who would you be without the thought? I would have space to focus on myself
Turn it around: I am sad, hostile, bitter, childish, and self-righteous (3 examples: I have had more anxiety and periods of depression the past couple of years; I feel bitter and hostile towards her; I act childishly when I feel threatened by snapping, interrupting, etc)

Statement 8: I refuse to have a conversation with her again where she tells me that J and I are like pedophiles, that our relationship is shit, and not worth celebrating. I refuse to be verbally abused.
Turn it around: I look forward to being verbally abused. I welcome being verbally abused.

Byron Katie likes to say that you don’t let go of thoughts; thoughts let go of you. I did this Work a few days ago, and ever since, I have been feelings so much more relaxed and peaceful about the situation with J’s mom. It’s really amazing. Clearly, I can’t adequately cover her entire book in my blog post, and so I can’t recommend her stuff enough (her website is here, which includes a lot of free resources).

What I am finding difficult is using this method in the moment of feeling threatened, angry, hurt, etc. Before or after the fact it is still an impressive way of investigating unexamined thoughts, but I am striving to use it in the moment to help thoughts pass that used to bring about a lot of upset.

I love how The Power of Now and Loving What Is complement one another. While TPN is about spiritual enlightenment, LWI is about a technique for practicing inquiry- both are about living in the moment, and observing thoughts and feelings without attaching to them needlessly and inflicting self-harm and pain. I highly recommend both to people looking to move beyond thought and emotional patterns that cause stress, worry, anxiety, anger, frustration, panic, sadness, etc.

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