Four Questions from Byron Katie

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I arrived in Madrid at about 8am and my room wasn’t quite ready so I walked over to the Plaza Major and had a lovely Spanish Omelette and a coffee.  Someone gave me a subscription to OPRAH MAGAZINE, which I rarely have time to read at home, but which I often take with me on the road.  A particular article about Byron Katie struck me– It centered around four questions.  And you know I love questions!  These questions get at the fear and fearful thinking that causes personal suffering.  As many of you know the best definition of fear I have ever heard is:  “Fear is the anticipation of grief.”  Anticipating something often makes it true– That’s where the saying “a self-fulfilling prophecy” comes from. Here are the questions:

Question 1: Is it true?
This question can change your life. Be still and ask yourself if the thought you wrote down is true.
Question 2: Can you absolutely know it’s true?
This is another opportunity to open your mind and to go deeper into the unknown, to find the answers that live beneath what we think we know.
Question 3: How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought?
With this question, you begin to notice internal cause and effect. You can see that when you believe the thought, there is a disturbance that can range from mild discomfort to fear or panic. What do you feel? How do you treat the person (or the situation) you’ve written about, how do you treat yourself, when you believe that thought? Make a list, and be specific.
Question 4: Who would you be without the thought?
Imagine yourself in the presence of that person (or in that situation), without believing the thought. How would your life be different if you didn’t have the ability to even think the stressful thought? How would you feel? Which do you prefer—life with or without the thought? Which feels kinder, more peaceful?
Turn the thought around:
The “turnaround” gives you an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you believe. Once you have found one or more turnarounds to your original statement, you are invited to find at least three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true in your life.

Question 1: Is it true?

This question can change your life. Be still and ask yourself if the thought you wrote down is true.

Question 2: Can you absolutely know it’s true?

This is another opportunity to open your mind and to go deeper into the unknown, to find the answers that live beneath what we think we know.

Question 3: How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought?

With this question, you begin to notice internal cause and effect. You can see that when you believe the thought, there is a disturbance that can range from mild discomfort to fear or panic. What do you feel? How do you treat the person (or the situation) you’ve written about, how do you treat yourself, when you believe that thought? Make a list, and be specific.

Question 4: Who would you be without the thought?

Imagine yourself in the presence of that person (or in that situation), without believing the thought. How would your life be different if you didn’t have the ability to even think the stressful thought? How would you feel? Which do you prefer—life with or without the thought? Which feels kinder, more peaceful?

Turn the thought around:

The “turnaround” gives you an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you believe. Once you have found one or more turnarounds to your original statement, you are invited to find at least three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true in your life.

Here is a link to the story of one woman whose life was transformed by really looking at these questions. http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Testing-the-Work-of-Byron-Katie

Byron Katie’s informational website is here http://www.thework.com/thework.php There is lots of free material and downloads available that expand on these questions and demonstrate their application.

To learn how to use these questions to help develop fictional characters, click here.

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