Last week we went over the difference between clean and dirty pain, and how our own thoughts can cause suffering. This week, we get to talk about what to do about those painful thoughts – we’re applying the most powerful spell ever invented!
That spell is “The Work” by Byron Katie. I highly recommend checking out her website, thework.com, for extensive resources, including worksheets, smart phone apps, web apps, and examples. I want to show it to you here as well, so you’ll have an idea of just how powerful this can be. The basic premise is incredibly easy – once you’ve identified a painful thought, you ask four questions and then do what Katie calls a “turnaround.” The turnaround involves switching the thought to its opposite and seeing if you can find evidence that it is potentially as true or truer than the original thought. I’m going to use my “road to Mordor” painful thought for a demo.
Original Thought: Fat women can’t be man magnets.
Question #1: Is it true?
Yes, of course it’s true; otherwise I wouldn’t be basing my life around it!
Question #2: Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
Well… in this case, I have to say no. I wouldn’t stake my life on this thought being true; I can’t be absolutely sure.
Question #3: How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
I react by hiding, by giving up, by not even bothering to flirt with men. I beat myself up, I am incredibly critical of myself; I plan extensive diet and exercise programs. I decide that I cannot find love and positive male attention as I currently am. I lump all men into one category, with no account for personal preference. I assume that attraction is all physical, with no room for charm, personality, beauty. I feel defeated. I dress in a frumpy way, believing that since I’m fat, there is basically no hope of attracting any man.
(Just lovely, isn’t it? Welcome to my brain.)
Question #4: Who would you be without the thought?
I would be open, free. I would be having a hell of a lot more fun.
Now for the turnaround – I’ve chosen an incredibly easy thought to demonstrate this. Truly, this area can feel like an art form, and I’ll again refer you to Katie’s site if you are interested in seeing the various ways you can turn thoughts around. For our purposes here, I’m only doing the most obvious one – turning it around to its direct opposite.
Turnaround: Fat women can be man magnets.
Now my goal is to find three specific and genuine examples of how this thought is true. Here we go:
- I’ve known fat women who have had plenty of male attention.
- When I was wandering through a market in South Africa, I was a man magnet (it took me a nice hour to even figure out what was happening!) – heavy women are treasured in different cultures.
- There are porn sites composed of only fat women that appear to be profitable enough to remain in business. If there are enough men paying to see fat women naked, it MUST be possible that fat women can be man magnets.
I feel so much better already!
The point here is not to convince yourself that the opposite is true…the point is really to convince your brain that it does not know the absolute truth. We can always choose to question our thoughts; we are not victims to our own internal stories. Again, I strongly invite you to check out thework.com if you are interested in learning more. Katie’s story is fascinating, and seeing her facilitate this process is well worth the ten minute investment.
This week, when you find yourself feeling terrible and notice some dreadful “truth” floating through your brain, blast it with this spell and see what happens!