Really, can four questions change your life?
Can four questions alter the way you are? Alter the way you look at events and people?
The famous author Byron Katie believes and almost proves so.
She uses four questions to analyze and heal problematic situations. She calls this process The Work. Katie gives seminars all around the world to turn people’s lives around through analyzing their lives with four questions.
Although maybe just a short introduction will not reflect this method, I would like to give you a taste of it. Her books such as “Loving What Is” are quite self-explanatory and Katie has a lot of the material available for use at her website www.thework.com as well as free downloads of chapters from her books.
Whatever your current problems may be, whether you are experiencing financial troubles, or having emotional issues related to a spouse or a partner, or feel anger, hurt or sadness due to other reasons, trying to look into the real reasons for your emotions helps uncover the clouds. We usually believe that it is hurtful to look at our problems. However, unless we do we will never be able to understand what really took place. Only then, the pain can go away. Byron Katie says “When I argue with reality, I lose only – hundred percent of the time.”
“Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet” is one of the useful exercises that are available on Katie’s website. I wanted to include it here to help you make a start. Why not pick up one issue and try it for yourself?
• Write it down • Ask four questions • Turn it around
Fill in the blanks below, using short simple sentences. Don’t censor yourself; don’t be wise or “spiritual.”
Take this opportunity to express your negative feelings on paper.
1. Who angers, irritates, saddens, or frustrates, you and why?
I am angry at (name) _________ because _________________.
(Example: I am angry at Paul because he doesn’t listen to me, he doesn’t appreciate me, he argues with everything I say.)
2. How do you want them to change? What do you want them to do?
I want (name) _________ to _________.
(Example: I want Paul to see that he is wrong. I want him to apologize.)
3. What is it that they should or shouldn’t do, be, think or feel?
(Name) ___________________ should/shouldn’t _________________.
(Example: Paul should take better care of himself. He shouldn’t argue with me.)
4. What do they need to do in order for you to be happy?
I need (name)_______ to ___________________.
(Example: I need Paul to hear me and respect me.)
5. What do you think of them? Make a list.
(Name) _____________________ is ____________.
(Example: Paul is unfair, arrogant, loud, dishonest, way out of line, and unconscious.)
6. What is it that you don’t want to experience with that person again?
I don’t ever want to___________________________.
(Example: I don’t ever want to feel unappreciated by Paul again. I don’t ever want to see him smoking and ruining his health again.)
After you write down your answers, analyze them with Byron Katie’s 4 questions one by one. Look at your replies. You are doing this exercise for yourself. To understand yourself and to heal any open wounds that you may be carrying. Be honest with yourself.
For each question, look at your reply and ask the following questions to yourself. Observe your replies and your reactions. Here are the famous questions:
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react when you think that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
Turn the answers around. What does Katie mean by this?
For example, if we say that we do not want to feel unappreciated by a certain person, we might be feeling the need to appreciate ourselves. We tend to reflect our negative feelings onto the people around us. And even when the negativity is true and real, when we look with scrutiny, we may find out that letting the negative thoughts and feelings linger brings us down. Maybe we just need to let it go no matter what.
When we review our answers through these questions, and if we are honest with ourselves, we may find ourselves discovering our true feelings for a person or situation to be different that what we thought it to be at first.
I am aware that I will not be able to summarize all of Byron Katie’s work here, yet I would really recommend you to look into her material. It is definitely worth reading in order to understand yourself and the people around you better.
The famous author of the book The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle points out the same thing - that most of pain in life is also due to resisting our present condition, resisting what is in our life. This resistance implies a judgment, negativity. Therefore, if we are able to accept the now, and if we can let go of the resistance to our present circumstances, the pain usually diminishes or disappears. “Make the Now the primary focus of your life. … Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment…. Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”
And my teacher Moshe would say: “Flow, with life, not against it. If you have been given a problem, you have been given the solution.” What a promising thought.
I wish you days full of joy, harmony, and happiness. With love,
Affirmation of the Week:
“Everything happens for me, not to me.”
Quote of the Week:
“Even when the sky is heavily overcast, the sun hasn’t disappeared. It’s still there on the other side of the clouds.”
“Loving What Is” By Byron Katie.
The Turkish translation of the book is sold under the name “Var olanı Sevmek”.