This Work is an invitation to look inside yourself and find the truth and wisdom you have been waiting for. It is an opportunity to meet your stressful and life limiting thoughts and beliefs with understanding and open to more possibility and peace. When you meet these simple questions with your own honest answers, the effect can be profound and life-changing.
The Work consists of two important parts.
Step 1. Identifying stressful thoughts and/or beliefs.
Identify the thoughts and beliefs that are causing suffering and/or limiting you, you can use a Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet, Universal Belief List, a focused question (What am I afraid of, angry, sad or worried about? What advice do I have for someone else?) or simply get still notice what you are thinking in a moment of stress.
Write down the thoughts that you find in short simple sentences. Don’t be spiritual or wise; this is an opportunity to meet your stressful thoughts honestly in their raw form. Write like you are an upset child: “He doesn’t like me”; “I need more money”; “I want…”; “They should…”
The mind on paper
It is very important to write the thoughts down as they come to you and then stay with what you have written as you answer the questions working one thought or belief to work at a time.
Step 2. Answering the Questions
This work is a meditation. It is about awareness, peace and understanding. It is not about trying to change your mind or ‘figure it out’ or ‘to be positive’. As you answer each question, take your time, consider deeply and let your own honest answers arise to meet the questions. Allow yourself to be available to whatever observations, sensations, images and insights arise as you explore the life of this thought. If you notice yourself moving into justification and defense – stop and gently move back to the questions. The Work only works if you answer the questions honestly. This is not about right or wrong, it is an opportunity to look at reality clearly for your own freedom.
Working with a facilitator or on your own
The process of answering the questions can be done with a facilitator who will ask you the questions, support your focus and listen to your answers. This Work can also be self-facilitated using the one-belief-at-a-time worksheet as a guide. When you are self-facilitating it is important to write down your answers to the 4 questions and turnarounds. This helps keep the inquiry focused and gives your mind an opportunity to experience itself from a distance where understanding and learning are more possible.
Doing the Work
One belief at a time
From your JYN worksheet or list of stressful thoughts and beliefs, choose one to work with. It is very important to work with one belief at a time, and take that same belief all the way through the 4 questions and turnarounds (inquiry process).
The Four Questions
1. Is it true?
You are invited to a simple yes or no answer. Either answer is fine. There is no ‘correct’ answer.
Notice if you have a temptation to explain, justify or defend and allow a simple yes or no to be enough.
If you answer ‘no’ – go directly to question #3.
2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
Again only a “yes” or “no” answer. Either answer is fine, and you are invited to take your time to really consider. Can you absolutely know what happened? What is needed or best? Can you know the future or another person’s mind?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Take your time and consider what it feels like in your body, how you act, live your life, how you treat that person or people, how you treat yourself when you are believing this thought. Close your eyes and watch where your mind travels into the past and/or future. Notice what images come. Ask yourself what you get for holding onto this thought and open to the answers that arise.
(See the facilitation guide or one-belief worksheet for more detailed subquestions to support your inquiry.)
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Close your eyes and experience for a moment what it would feel like if you could not have this thought. What do you notice about that person, other people and/or the situation as you look at them without your story? Take your time and allow yourself to experience and notice.
The turnarounds are an opportunity to consider other perspectives on what you believe to be true when you are attached to a stressful thought or belief. There are many possibilities for turning your original statement around and each can bring insight and understanding you may not have considered or even noticed.
For each turnaround – find at least 3 specific and genuine (to you) examples of how this
The turnaround could be as true or truer than your original statement. This is an opportunity to really open your mind and heart to what else is possible and find the peace and freedom that comes with that. Give yourself time to take in each turnaround and example. Turnarounds can be surprising and humbling.
The Turnarounds are not about blame – they offer a powerful window to understanding of yourself and others if you are gentle with yourself and take them in, allowing yourself to experience balance in your mind that is not available when we are attached to a thought, fear or belief. It is important to do the turnarounds after taking your thought through the 4 questions.
Jumping straight to the turnarounds before inquiry can feel harsh or like denial which is not the intention of The Work.
Turning your thought around
Turn the thought around in as many of these ways makes sense to the statement you are Working.
For each turnaround, find at least 3 specific and genuine examples of how the turnaround could be as true or truer than your original statement.
Use the wording of your original thought
(I.e. Joe doesn’t listen to me.)
Turn the thought around to the opposite
(I.e. Joe does listen to me)
Example: Yesterday I asked him a question and he answered. I asked him to take the garbage out and he did.
Turn the thought around to the other
(I.e. I don’t listen to Joe)
Examples: He asked me to turn down the volume and I didn’t. He asked me to be on time and I wasn’t. He was telling me about his day and I was thinking about dinner.
Turn the thought around to the self
(I.e. I don’t listen to myself)
Examples: I say I want more sleep and then stay up late. I say we should save more money and then I buy expensive coffees.
Turnaround to “my thinking”
When you are doing the work on an object or your body – you can sometimes turn the thought around to “My thinking” and see what you find. For example, “Money is stressful” could turnaround to “My thinking is stressful – particularly about my money.”
When you have completed your inquiry, allow yourself (and your partner) the gift of silence. The
Work continues to work in you after you are finished answering the questions – and immediate analysis or advice takes away from the power of the experience.
Below is an example of the Work in writing. It is a real example of my own work on someone close to me who shouts at me sometimes. For each person doing the Work – the answers are personal and your own, and lead you to your own awareness and learning. As you follow my inquiry here – I invite you to think of someone in your own life who you think shouldn’t shout at you and notice your own answers also.
Belief: She shouldn’t shout at me
1. Is it true? Yes
2. Can I absolutely know that it is true? No
(My mind finds the no as I contemplate and notice that I can’t know what is happening for her or what is best for me in that moment…)
3. How do I react, what happens when I believe that thought?
My body gets tight. My face flushes. My heart pounds. I feel angry and shocked. My throat closes. My face scowls. I treat her with scorn. I don’t listen to her. I turn away from her – I show her with my body and expression that I am not listening. I shout back at her “don’t shout at me!!. My mind travels to being in school and a teacher shouting at me and I felt scared and ashamed. I see images of her just shouting and shouting. Of other people staring at us and people thinking I have done something wrong. I feel panic.
I treat myself like a victim. I go weak and then get angry at myself for not standing up to her. I blame myself for upsetting her.
What I get for attaching to this thought: I don’t have to listen to what she is saying and really take it in. I get to be right about something and make her wrong. I get some sense of control. I am afraid that if I don’t believe this thought she will be shouting at me all the time; it will mean shouting is ok and everyone will be in conflict and shouting. It will mean I am wrong to value peaceful communication. When I attach to this thought I am not able to hear her; I am not able to feel connected to her; I am not able to look at her in the eyes; I am not able to be present or take in what she is saying; I am not able to remain peaceful.
4. Who would I be without the thought “She should not shout at me.”
I would be calmer and more relaxed in my body. I would be more curious. I would look at her face and see that she is upset and I can see vulnerability in her eyes. I can feel that I care about her. I am more still and I am listening to what she is saying. I hear that she hates it when I don’t answer her clearly and I can find where I do that. I am able to think and able to speak without yelling back.
She shouldn’t shout at me.
To the opposite: She should shout at me.
• She has told me that many times and I still do it. I have not heard her so she is trying something else.
• I can understand that she would be angry when she wants a clear answer so she can know what to do next and I don’t give her that. I can find where that is frustrating.
• Because that is honest for her right now. To my mind that is better than squishing her feelings or not communicating with me at all.
To the other: I shouldn’t shout at her.
• I notice that I shout back at her and it doesn’t solve the conflict when I do that.
• I feel terrible after I shout at her.
• She walks away when I shout at her and then I can’t communicate with her. I love her and I see how much it stresses her when I shout at her. How she closes to me.
To the self: I shouldn’t shout at myself.
• I shout at myself while she is shouting at me (blaming myself for upsetting her) and then I can’t think clearly or hear what she is actually saying.
• I shout at myself for not being able think faster and that makes it worse.
• I shout at myself for shouting at her and then I feel terrible and am more angry and irritable and not able to have a conversation with her or listen.