This quote from Byron Katie strongly resonated with me the moment I read it. Byron Katie is an American speaker and author who teaches a method of self-inquiry known as “The Work”. The method is fairly simple yet powerful, only 4 questions to ask yourself every time that you are having a thought or belief that is causing you pain. The questions are: 1) Is it true? 2) Can you absolutely know that it’s true? 3) How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? 4) Who would you be without the thought?
By answering these questions and giving turnarounds to the answers you start questioning the veracity of the thoughts and beliefs you first considered to be absolutely truth. These thoughts and beliefs are our “stories”, in other words: “there is what happens in life – and then there is the story we tell about what happened. And it is our stories, thoughts, and beliefs that cause us to suffer – so if we want to get rid of the suffering, we need to question our thoughts and beliefs”.
We all have endless stories, opinions and thoughts about our friends, co-workers, boss, parents, love-partner, and most importantly about ourselves. We judge the person who doesn’t share our same religious or political views, we get mad with the friend who doesn’t “get us”, we resent our boss who doesn’t appreciate our hard work, we blame our parents for not giving us all the love and attention we needed as a child, we hate ourselves for not having the perfect body, and the list goes on. We play these stories in our head over and over and unfortunately most of the time we see ourselves as the victim in them: “Why is everything happening to me?”. Some of these stories have been with us for so many years that they have come to define who we are – or who we think we are. And we rarely have stopped to consider the fact that all these stories may not even be truth, they are just that, stories, our thoughts and beliefs about what happens.
So let’s try to find a new way to see things. Let’s learn to question our thoughts and beliefs the moment we see them pop up in our head. This is a life-long process that requires great effort from our part but it is definitely worth it. I can tell from my own experience that it requires a daily practice, it asks me to stop and make it conscious every time that a thought suddenly arises in my head and somehow is bothering me or making me feel uncomfortable: Is this thought true? Can I absolutely know that it’s true? How do I feel when I believe this thought? Who would I be without it?
And the moment I start questioning the thought, I realize that it is simply not truth. I start relaxing and feeling at peace. I start appreciating exactly what is and stop expecting things to be different. I start to flow with life. Byron Katie beautifully describes it based on her own experience: “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional”.
So, today I invite you to be curious about your thoughts and beliefs. Be patient with yourself and have compassion with your process. It is about -slowly but surely- start opening to new ways of thinking and experiencing life. It’s about being fully present in every moment of your life and appreciating everything exactly as it is and not how you think it should / could / would be.
If you start practicing this method I wish you all the best on this process! Share in the comments below your experience and if you feel like it, answer these questions “What’s your story? Who would you be without it?”
With all my love,