My assignment was simple. Read the book Loving What Is by Byron Katie.
But this simple assignment, requested by my husband who found enlightenment from his reading of this book, wasn’t so simple. Maybe I just wasn’t ready?
But really, I needed to be. Or at least, open to a new narrative. Worrying about everybody else had really started to take a toll on my health.
- Is so-and-so going to get their project done?
- Did so-and-so turn in their homework (yes, I’m looking at you #1 child)?
- Is so-and-so mad at me?
- Will so-and-so be mad at me if I say no to this or that?
All this worry heaped on top of some overcommitments on my part lead to me being a big ball of stress at the end of last year. And landed me in the hospital.
But it took me another 8 months to get to it. In that 8 months I cut back, said no more, committed to being less committed. Only in doing those things did I then have the capacity to open myself up to reading this book.
That, and about 75 hours of driving over the summer to take kids here and there.
Over the weekend I loaded the book up in Audible and hit play as I kicked off a 9+ hour driving day. Katie’s four questions are simple and through the book she walks through examples of doing “The Work” as she calls with with a number of different individuals with different problems.
I will admit that in the beginning I was set to reject this book and the concepts. I had read a bit of the beginning and it sounded like bs. But I kept listening, waiting for the ah-ha moment. Listening to the examples, I was frustrated that it seemed the participants were all like “I see” and I was like, “You see what…that makes no sense!”. This is in regards to the turn-arounds where you turn around the statements to yourself. Getting to the point of saying you look forward to whatever wrong thing had transpired so you can do more of this work seemed completely ignorant. Every time I got to that part of one of the examples I took two more steps back from it.
I do feel that there were elements of the process that I can adopt. The “not arguing with reality” is a big one, and that is one that my husband also embraced. I feel that this will really benefit my thinking about minor matters in my life. But not arguing with reality is not the same thing as just rolling along with it either and that was something I felt was not properly addressed the book. I cannot argue with what has already happened, as that is in the past, but I can certainly use that information to make informed decisions about my future. Katie admits that she does not make decisions but rather just lets what happens, happen. As a planner personality, I had an issue with that too. It came across in some places as victim-blaming in reference to some of the examples she gave that covered some heavier topics. I won’t list them here to avoid them getting picked up by search engines but you can read some of the reviews of the book on Amazon to get an idea.
And I definitely can see the benefits of not telling yourself a story about what is going on around you and what others of thinking makes some sense. It is easy to get caught up in the mental merry-go-round of what is happening outside your own thoughts and actions. And focusing on my “business” rather than external business also made sense and is something I feel I can internalize. But that’s where I stop. The turnaround (finding the opposite in the statements), in many of the cases, just didn’t make sense and I find it hard to believe that the folks going through this dialogue with the author just “clicked” into place as seamlessly as the script presents it. Even her examples from her own work through the exercises made no sense. From her website, here is one of her turn arounds:
The Original Thought: I don’t ever want Paul to lie to me again. I don’t ever want to see him ruining his health again. I am willing to… I am willing for Paul to lie to me again. I am willing to see him ruining his health again. I look forward to… I look forward to Paul lying to me again. I look forward to seeing him ruining his health again.TheWork.com
I just don’t get this part. What?! So, I’ll take what makes sense to me and sounds like it’ll be helpful with me on my personal journey, and leave the other 30% there on the pages of the book.