… From time to time we have to choose between several goals in order to solve one at a time. The vernacular says: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. If we are betwixt and between these goals we can speak of goal conflict.
When we‘re trying to do the second or third step before the first is another indicator of goal conflict. Trying so we‘ll proverbially stumble over own feet. However, some needs do feel so crucially important that because of them one takes certain steps to succeed in the face of all reason, ignoring the order of how to do something better or even achieve it.
In relation to my needs even my painful and destructive chronic inflammatory joint disease, I once felt to be the lesser of grief and for so long my interest in recovery had to stand behind. Figuratively speaking I would run on crutches towards my more urgent needs, although I would have progressed unevenly better without RA, without pain and movement restrictions without my crutches. But my patience in first devoting myself to recovery, stopping my physical decay, wasn’t big enough. Only the desire to reach the seemingly urgent, larger and more important goal was essential. That I would still be able to achieve it, as sick as I was, eventually turned out to be a fallacy.
Although I often no longer had the necessary strength for them at all, my strongest need felt so vital that my own actual condition and loss of strength were less interesting to me. As I was right now, I didn’t meet my most important need for how I wanted to be, so my health at that moment was actually not my highest interest, my highest need.
Without what I really wanted, I couldn’t be what I wanted to be, and that felt bad. Very bad.
The mere fact that I tried to cope with my normal daily routine with family, work and all the necessary household items such as cooking and washing, shopping and tidying up, left my daily routine with my health until there was little or nothing for them Time and power was left. And that, although I often did my work in pain and with limited movements. One day I found myself, despite my aching hands, still cooking the potatoes for the next meal. Let alone this simple work includes many individual steps (peeling, cutting, lifting the pot …), which were all painful for me ill as I was. Anyway, I did them and watched myself in amazement. From my rheumatologist, I knew that the inflammatory process and the pain from the RA indicated that physical destruction was taking place at that moment, and yet I used my sick body for excessive work. I began to feel clear how nonsensical that was.
So reason told me, “Alright, but with RA and the meds you’re getting more and more miserable. Do something against this first. You also brush your teeth and don’t let them degrade – right?!”
My insight said, “Yes, I know. I should actually take care of my joints now. RA hurts and restricts me.”
My need responded: “I don’t care. At first, I want to be me. That, I ain’t what I want to be and that I do not have what I want is the worse fate to me. I’ve had too little time and opportunities for myself even before RA.”
I felt stress.
That thought me that goal conflicts mean nothing but tension.
That’s why I was looking out to clear my situation. Once again, describing the problem as exact as possible turned out be very helpful. So my goal conflict had to come to the light of critical consideration. I became more aware of my actions, reasons, and consequences, and adjusted my overall situation better than before: while I was ill, for example, there were meals that were easier to prepare and I learned to be more considerate of myself and others to ask for help.
So I discovered that I could favor myself in many more situations than I thought. That was neither failure nor was I ashamed to be dependent on help. I was ill and that was not a shame.
With inflamed joints, it is inappropriate to carry out heavy work. Part of the heavy work is then to cut an apple or a potato, to lift a box full of drinks, to carry a flower vase or to turn a key in the lock (certainly not against resistance).
What struck me first in the stark contrast between my need/my goal, my daily errands with family, work and household and my condition, I now even found in situations that I had experienced as a healthy person before the RA: I was even back and I was overloaded by work for which I was not sufficiently trained. Partly also because treating myself with care (like a healthy lifestyle with sports, nutrition and adequate sleep) did not really belong to my knowledge of my needs and habits. I had defined more about my accomplishments for others, keeping them so busy that my own life was mostly stress and wear for myself. So I had put my health below other priorities – down and down until it vanished from my focus every day for a very long time until I got seriously ill from that behaviour.
I had tried to fulfil expectations that others had or believed in, at least. Over time, I questioned these expectations and changed my life accordingly.
As long as I blindly followed this need-orientation and wasn’t able to describe it accurately, it continued to work silently in the background. An exact description, of this need, helped me clarify it. In doing so, it came to the light of critical observation and lost its hidden influence. Sometimes this is enough.
It was not until many years after my healing that I found The Work through a video with Vera F. Birkenbihl and tried it out.
With Byron Katie’s “The Work”, more stubborn fixations on negative beliefs can be solved, and unrealistic claims may be revealed such as “I should / must” or “he/she should/must.”
Katie asks four (leading) questions about a definite conviction associated with ongoing grief. Whether we regard such a personal conviction with our mind as more or less rational or even for too specific directed to one point, does not matter. She encourages the reader to be petty and to go into detail.
There is one thing that all these negative beliefs have in common: we have not been able to free ourselves from them because we assume they are correct. Katie’s questions help to validate this subjective truth and independently eliminate pain and mental suffering which can make life unnecessarily difficult.
For as we all have a subjective view that gives rise to everything we believe in, it is always possible for an unfortunate, obstructive, hurtful, scary convincing sentence to settle in us.
In life we can’t escape ourselves.
But we can get to know ourselves better.
We can become aware of suffering and stress as critical cognitive functions, as physical-mental-spiritual warning signs and eliminate what isn’t good and healthy. It is not about the attempt to take our subjectivity in bows and whistles for false and dangerous because from our results our ability to act and our self-esteem. To do this, I added something to Katie’s third question:
What authority, what positive function does my stress have?;
What good is it for me now, concretely and practically?;
Did it perhaps draw my attention to something that I had previously overlooked?
Was it making sure that I defended my position in dire situations instead of withdrawing? Or had I, with a conviction, manoeuvred myself into a corner from which I couldn’t flee, had been trapped in my own suffering?
Nobody has to suffer from bad experiences and unfavourable facts for a long time. If you do, it is because of the power you give to the pain, what has the advantage that you’re able to change it.
For me, the bad and my suffering was inextricably linked for many – too many – years. I took the context of: “I have experienced something bad, and therefore it is natural and inevitable that I must suffer,” as mandatory. I was mistaken.
Longlasting grief isn’t a duty.
We can help ourselves by formulating our wishes, with which we associate a solution to our grief and more personal freedom, as separate sentences and asking Katie’s four questions.
As I tried out The Work, I learned that the sentence I wanted to work with must be formulated correctly when one or other of my attempts went nowhere. It is important not to give up at such moments. Stay tuned is worth it. If you mentally engage with your convictions and sorrows, you will get the right and most severe sentence sooner or later, and the knot that you did not have before can break away with The Work. And that is a relatively short time compared to the period during which one has suffered his conviction. Different individual negative beliefs are considered and questioned individually. Thus, they are made clear as allegations that, in more detail, no longer exist.
In the following two examples, I have applied the four questions from Katie (in italics) to one of my negative beliefs at that time. Katie’s questions are also on the worksheet “Examine Conviction” I found on The Work and come from her book, “Loving What Is“:
In my conviction: “I have had too little time and opportunities for myself even before RA.” I found my first sentence of sorrow: “I should have more time and opportunities for me.” My goal conflict (and thus constant tension) was that I considered my everyday life with work, household and family as fundamentally immutable hindering my own development.
The first question is subjective truth. It reads, “Is that true?” I would have answered it very clearly with “yes” because that would have best met my conviction.
The second question concerns the verification of the conviction: “Can you know with absolute certainty that this is true?” Here it becomes clear that the subjective and the objective truth are different. So my answer would have been “no” because, in fact, I had enough time and opportunities.
To the third question: “How do you react, what happens if you believe this sentence?” My answer was: “I am sad and see no opportunities.”
The fourth question is: “Who would you be without the thought?” My answer was, “I would be happier because I would take my time and opportunities.”
After these four questions, the sentence can now be reversed, and it is considered whether something true can be found in the new, more objective sentence.
My reversed sentence then read like this: „I possess plenty of time and chances.“ But beware: Just to turn words around is easy. But if done without logic it won‘t emerge in anything true. Turning the sentence I suffered from was my opportunity for changing my point of view, it leads to critical thought about what I took for self-evident. This was the reason for my reversed sentence to be true – I reversed it in a logical way.
“Our heads are round so our thoughts can change direction.”
Francis-Marie Martinez Picabia
Bitter sorrow and worries can end and we get a new scope to take better care of ourselves.
My second negative opinion was:
“I should be better/faster/more successful in my HeilÜben.”
The first question: “Is that true?”
My answer: “Yes, it feels true to me.”
The second question: “Can you know with absolute certainty that this is true?”
My answer: “No, I’m already doing my best.”
The third question: “How do you react, what happens if you believe in this thought?”
My answer: “I am depressed and have too little drive, little hope.”
The fourth question: “Who would you be without this thought?”
My answer: “I would have more courage, more energy, and more self-confidence through the things I have already accomplished.”
Now I turn the negative belief/negative belief into: “I am good and successful, in and with my HeilÜben-exercises.”
Of course, The Work can also be used on any other negative beliefs such as, “I do not deserve that.”; “I can not do that because I’m too stupid.”; “I should first achieve this or that before I can take care of my health.” Dissatisfaction with an existing condition and the sincere desire for improvement is adequately employed, a powerful engine that drives us to get out of our worries, fears, and worries. This is a great way to lower our tension level. And for me it helped to relieve the tension damaging my joints.
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All the best!
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