One of my favorite authors is Byron Katie and I have recently been reading her newest book, A Mind at Home with Itself. Just as the Dalai Lama suggests that we take a "larger perspective" in moments of sadness, frustration and anger (see my previous post), Byron gives us a practical approach for doing so by having us work through a series of questions she calls "The Work" (thework.com):
1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Byron encourages us to use our emotions as an alarm clock to check-in to our thoughts to see how they are serving us. As we take the time to examine our thoughts, we will see the assumptions and projections that we are loading into them. We will see that by holding onto these thoughts (i.e., seeing ourselves as a "victim" or feeling entitled to have life show up for us in a specific way when we actually have no control), we are keeping our selves locked into these negative, unproductive and uncomfortable feelings. Since how we feel determines how we show up in the world, our emotional awareness gives us the opportunity to choose how to show up to life in more productive and compassionate ways.
We don't have to believe everything we think. Are your thoughts absolutely true?