Mark Twain said: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
Ha! What a perfect way to sum up our human experience. Raise your hands up if you relate to this 🙋🏻♀️ – Yes, I see you!
Even though our worries can feel and appear extremely real, they rarely come true in the way that we hear them in our mind.
Worrying thoughts are a little like optical illusions to me – they are not real. But the more I fixate on them, the more real and concrete they become. Oh, and like optical illusions they also give me a massive headache.
Take this image for instance, it is entirely two dimensional and static. But, it appears to be three dimensional and in motion 🤯
The good news is wise beings have discovered tried and tested ways that we can manage our worries.
Here’s a technique called the work by a woman called Byron Katie.
The work consists of four simple questions.
Byron Katie said that these questions will help you to access the wisdom that always exists within you, and it will help you to take the power out of your worries.
Really?! I hear you say.
Yes really. These questions have certainly helped me to access my own wisdom whenever I have made the effort to answer them sincerely.
I really like these questions because they 1) help to slow my mind down, especially when its racing with worries, 2) provide a systematic way for me to deconstruct a worry, and 3) it helps me to see who I can be and what actions I can take to become that person.
The 4 Questions
Relax and recall a specific situation where you were angry, hurt or disappointed.
Isolate one thought. Ask the four questions. Allow the genuine answers to arise
1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3)
Be still and find your honest yes or no as it arises to meet the question. If your answer shows up as a yes, move to question two. If it’s no, then experience that no for a moment and then move to question three.
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no)
If your answer to question one is yes, ask yourself: “Can I absolutely know that it’s true?” Take this opportunity to look again. Shine the flashlight on that moment in time again, and see what reveals itself to you.
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Close your eyes and witness the feelings, body sensations, and behaviors that arise when you believe that thought. Notice and report the answers to any of the following:
- How did you treat the other person?
- How did you treat yourself?
- Do any obsessions or addictions begin to appear when you believe that thought.
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Closing your eyes, return to the situation. Take a moment to reflect, observe, and experience the situation again, this time without the thought. Who or what you would be without the thought? How would you see or feel about the other person? Drop all of your judgments. Notice what is revealed.
I hope this inspires you to use these four questions the next time you are hijacked by a particularly strong worry or an upsetting thought/emotion.
Click here for a thorough and detailed guide on how to use the work.