“The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. If it should, it would. What is is what should.”
This jumble of words is an excerpt from a book I just finished reading by Byron Katie called Loving What Is. In a nutshell, this book is about how we cause our own suffering through our thoughts, and how we can find freedom through inquiry of these thoughts. All of the stress and pain we feel in our life is not the result of experiences and people, but rather our thoughts regarding these experiences and people. It’s hard to swallow at first, but bear with me.
This book has completely changed my perspective. Once you read it, it is pretty well impossible to have a “life has wronged me” outlook (which we must all admit, we have had!). Once I thought about it, I realized that all the stress in my life is the cause of me holding “should/shouldn’t” beliefs. For example, “I should be jumping further by now”, “So and so should be more supportive”. What I think should have happened, shouldn’t of happened, because it didn’t. Or vice-versa, what I think shouldn’t of happened, should have happened, because it did. That is the reality of the situation and I need to trust it. Next obvious question, how do you know you need to trust it? How do you know that you can trust reality (what is)? Well, it hurts when you don’t. When I believe that my reality should be different than what it is, it causes me stress, tension, and frustration. If I were to drop these should/shouldn’t beliefs, I wouldn’t feel this way, and that’s how I know that I need to love what is.
How can you drop a belief that is causing you pain? The author suggests that you hold your belief up against four questions that she calls “The Work”. I will answer them with an example belief to help you understand more.
“I need my parents to stop being so judgemental” (This is JUST an example. My dad rocks)
1. Is it true? Is it true that my parents need to stop being judgemental? At first I want to say yes – parents shouldn’t judge. But think about it deeper. Do I NEED them to do this? What is the reality on this planet? Parents are judgemental. So how do I know that it’s true that they shouldnt be? I don’t. How do I know that parent’s SHOULD be judgemental? Because they are. That’s what it is.
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? The end result should always be “no”, because we can never absolutely know that something is true, especially when it argues with your reality.
3. How do you react when you think this thought? When I feel like my parents judge me I feel annoyed, hurt, frustrated. I feel like I have to censor myself and live according to them.
4. Who would you be without this thought? If I didn’t think my parents were judgemental, I would feel free. I would feel more loved by them, I would feel like I can be myself. I would be more confident knowing I have their approval and support.
The goal is that you come to realize how damaging your actually UNTRUE beliefs are, and that you are better off without them. Imagine what life would be like without these beliefs that you hold – imagine how you would feel. That feeling in itself should be enough to make you want to drop the thought. Sometimes we can’t help our thoughts, but the goal is that next time you have it, you smile and drop it knowing that you’ve already worked through the thought and that your mind is just making up a story.
Another thing the author recommends is that you turn your thoughts around. “I need my parents to stop judging me” can be turned around to “I need me to stop judging me” or “My parents need me to stop judging them”. You’ll often find that there’s more truth to your turn-around statements than there is to your original belief, you just have to look for the proof. Turn your thoughts around in a way that makes the issue about you, not other people. Other people’s issues are their business. The author askes the question, “if you’re in their business, who’s in yours?”.
Anyways, that’s all for self-help Friday brought you by Caro. I definitely recommend reading this book. I learned so much from it (as you can tell by my inability to stop preaching about it). Remember, “everything outside of you is a reflection of your own thinking”. The author uses the analogy of a projector. If you had a piece of lint on a projector and it was affecting the image on the screen, you wouldn’t try to fix the screen, you’d clean up the projector! Clean up your thinking, and you will see the world in a much better way!