Doing ‘The Work’ for Self-Transformation
Usually, it takes a spiritual revelation or a personal crisis for us to stop, reassess a tough situation, and transform our lives into expressions of joy, gratitude, success, and love.
For author and speaker Byron Katie, it was a bit of both.
It was 1986, and her multiple diagnoses of paranoia, depression, agoraphobia, and an eating disorder had landed her in a half-way house. She was lying on the floor of her room, marinating in self-loathing. At that lowest point of her life, the final indignity of a cockroach crawling over her foot suddenly shocked her into spiritual consciousness.
She realized that if she stayed anchored in her dark thoughts, she suffered – but if she stopped believing the dire stories continuously playing in her mind, the suffering immediately stopped.
From this epiphany Byron Katie developed The Work – a four-question exercise and a ‘turn-around’ to help discern truth from fiction, and to reclaim our self-esteem and self-awareness.
To do The Work, when someone or something “they” say upsets us, ask yourself these four questions:
1) Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
2) Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
3) How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
4) Who would you be without the thought?
After you’ve responded to each of the four points, you create a statement that is the opposite of what you initially believed, or a “turn-around.” For example, if you said, “My boss is too demanding,” your turn-around statement might be, “I could be more effective at my job.”
It’s an exercise that forces us to confront our subconscious programming from messages we’ve received since childhood. Answering each question honestly and completely releases us from non-productive emotional patterns, and empowers us to recreate our world from a perspective of empowerment. The “turn-around,” in particular, pushes us way out of our comfort zone to reevaluate the issue from a completely different perspective. Frequently we discover a truth we’d avoided seeing – and this new wisdom can mentally, emotionally and spiritually set us free.
Individuals and groups around the world quickly adopted the simple, direct and transformational nature of The Work. Schools, universities, corporations, hospitals, churches, prisons, and shelters are sharing this mindful exercise. Byron Katie has created an international organization to offer both weekend intensives and a nine-day School for the Work, where diverse groups of participants enthusiastically tackle this challenging and rewarding “mental yoga.”
Find a free worksheet to help you do The Work at: http://thework.com/sites/thework/downloads/worksheets/JudgeYourNeighbor_Worksheet.pdf.
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