I grew up in a family that placed a high value on intellect- I am a 4th generation physician, my Mom’s Father was a professor and we read a lot and put those in academics on a bit of a pedestal at my house growing up. What I now realize is that intellect is wonderful- only its not necessarily the best place to go when you are trying to solve puzzles of the heart. In fact, sometimes I have to stop being so darn smart- so I can really look at how I am feeling and what my thoughts are causing me to feel. I learned this only recently and its POWERFUL stuff. There are any ways to look at your THOUGHTS- and one of the most simple ways is a process called “the work” of Byron Katie. I cannot say ENOUGH about the work of Byron Katie. Simple process- although it takes a bit of practice to do it- but the results are well worth it. What I have learned is that our intellect (brain- whatever you wan tto call it) creates thoughts- and some of those thoughts are NOT HELPING US!! Yes- in our Western Culture- we glorify the mind- but frankly- some times your fantastic little mind is up to NO GOOD. What ca you do about this? Well- you can do the “WORK of Byron Katie” (also check out self –coaching 101 by Brooke Castillo which is sort of a shorthand process for doing the same.
If you have not heard of her- Byron Katie’s website is a wonderful resource. I had read her books a few years ago and LOVED the idea- but I really did not get to experience the full depth of the EXPERIENCE that inquiry creates.
I did grasp that many of us are telling ourselves “painful stories”….like..I am not good enough….or I could NEVER do that….or “They” will never let me…..or my mother did not love me…….you get the idea. I did not understand how to apply it to my life, in a rich way, until it was introduced as a coaching technique in my Martha Beck Coach Training. Here I began to learn how to “catch thoughts” with several mentors- including Susan Grace Beekman and Terry DeMeo- two absolutely wonderful coaches.
Once you can “catch” a client’s painful thought (or your own)- you can take them through the process. What happens during this “inquiry” is often nothing less than miraculous- people often get so excited about what they discover that its just plain FUN! Other times- we just begin to “pry loose” or “jimmy” the painful thought a bit so it loses its strength. My mother should be loving and nurturing to me is transformed (by the client) into “I should be loving and nurturing to myself. When we realize that the story we were telling ourselves (and causing pain) is not 100% true- or is FLAT OUT A LIE- its sometimes actually so funny- we laugh out loud. Here is the basic process- try it yourself- if you are really wanting to see how it works- use Byron Katie’s 1800 number- they have volunteers trained in the process who can help you. Or hire a coach who is versed in “The Work”. It is transformative stuff.
Painful thought: (I can’t find love)-
Is that 100% true (that you can’t find love)? Yes or No.
- Who do you become/how do your react when you think that thought? (sad, disheartened, I give up, I don’t approach anybody etc.)
- Who would you be without that thought ? In other words, the thought is removed from your brain- what happens? (I feel slightly better to neutral- I feel lighter and more positive and hopeful)
- Turn the thought around…state the thought as a complete OPPOSITE-
Ex: I can find LOVE
becomes…………I cannot find HATE.
Or turn it to yourself- LOVE can’t find me…
Then look for examples where these turned around statements are TRUE in your own life….it might be something small- like- “I found love in college a few years ago for a while” or “I love my nephews”……..or for LOVE CAN’T FIND ME – its true because “ I never go out to social situations- I sit at home and don’t reach out” or maybe “I don’t allow people to love me- although they try”. See if it FEELS GOOD- or at the very least- a little tiny bit better.