Loving What Is: The Work
Every once in awhile, a book comes out that is a real watershed moment in terms of helping us to see reality from a different perspective.
Byron Katie’s Loving What Is, is just such a book.
After a difficult life filled with many problems, among them alcohol abuse, she woke up one day to realize that she had been filling her head with all kinds of “stories” that had been making her life miserable and unworkable.
The Work Is Born
After thinking about her situation and the thoughts that she had been thinking about her reality, what emerged was that essentially she herself was creating her own “personal” interpretation or “spin” on reality, and it was making her life miserable and unworkable.
Loving What Is: The Core Concepts
In Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is, she lays down 4 fundamental questions.
Questions that anyone can use at anytime, to come up with a completely different view of one’s perceived reality.
The 4 Questions:
- Is that true?
Each day we make dozens if not hundreds of statements, either to ourselves or others without examining the absolute truth of those statements.
For example, if we had plans with somebody and they are late, we may say something like this:
“They are so inconsiderate. I swear they are doing it on purpose”
Often times we say or think statements like this without any challenge whatsoever. We become judge, jury, and executioner in our minds.
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
Upon challenging the statement above, how do we know that it is absolutely true?
Have we asked the person whether they are deliberately trying to be late to upset us?
Or have we falsely concluded, oftentimes to our advantage, without checking in to see what may be going on inside of that person.
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
This is key!
When we think thoughts like: “They are so inconsiderate. I swear they are doing it on purpose.” we often feel and make ourselves upset.
We feel badly by thinking a thought that we have often not taken the time to substantiate, and may let it cloud or ruin our day, or days even. Things may go on even longer.
All because we may have assumed, and we went on to form a negative judgment about the person’s character instead of their behaviour.
4. Who would you be without the thought?
This is an incredible question if you think about it!
What it hints at, is that we have the power to determine how we feel, by deciding how we will think!
If we didn’t think this thought: “They are so inconsiderate. I swear they are doing it on purpose,” what might happen?
We might not get upset. What might even go so far as to say:
“We might not upset ourselves!”
Now isn’t that taking full responsibility for our emotions and well-being on a level that we are mostly not accustomed to.
The thought, that by choosing our thoughts and our interpretations of events differently, that we are able to change “How We Feel” and “To Free Ourselves”.
Thoughts are things. They effect how we feel.
But who is forcing us to think those thoughts?
I know… I know…. if only they weren’t doing that thing that ticks us off so much, then we could be happy. Is that too much to ask?
It may or may not be, but I would suggest that one thing may be clearer, that in that moment, we are giving the responsibility and the power over our happiness into the hands of another.
And that is a formula for feeling powerless, and in the worse case, depressed.
If our happiness depends upon whether someone does or says something, then we have a problem!
This is where Byron Katie really takes us into an extraordinary way of looking at things differently!
If we return back to the sample sentence that I used for step 1:
“They are so inconsiderate. I swear they are doing it on purpose.”
Byron Katie would have us look at this statement and “turn it around.”
For example, instead of “They are so inconsiderate”, is it possible that WE are being inconsiderate by not bothering to think that something may have come up for the other person and is causing them to be late?
Possible turnarounds that causes us to look at OUR OWN behaviour and thinking is:
Am I being considerate?
Is this all about me?
Am I living my life on purpose?
These are but a few possible examples, of how Byron Katie might suggest we turnaround our initial thoughts, and examine them more deeply.
In reading Loving What Is we may come away with the incredibly powerful realization, that it was always us who was insulting us!
That what we think has so much more power to effect how we feel then what anybody could possibly say or do!
There are exceptions of course, but in large part, we may find it powerfully revealing to see how what we think, and how we interpret things, people and events, is incredibly much more powerful in determining our state of mind and emotions.
Once we wake up to this powerful realization, we may then think:
Do I want to give up my own personal happiness and well-being to what someone else says or does?
The book provides a rare and amazing opportunity to see the workings of a great mind, gently and genuinely asking and challenging a client about how they feel, and how they can change their thoughts for the better.
Let me know what you think if you decide to read Loving What Is. Would love to hear your take on it.