…From time to time we have to choose between several goals in order to solve one at a time. If we got some emotional or rational problems with deciding a goal conflict can arise. The vernacular says: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”.
Another goal conflict is to try to do the second step before the first. You’ll stumble over your own feet. However, some needs do feel so crucially important that 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.
Even my 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 other needs. I would – figuratively speaking – 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 a larger goal, the desire to fulfil this urgent need was essential. That I would still be able to achieve it, as sick as I was, turned out to be a fallacy. Although I often no longer had the necessary strength 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.
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.”
As long as I followed this need-orientation blindly 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.
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.”
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.
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.
But we can’t escape ourselves. The only way out of a sickening psychic situation is to 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 in 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.”
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
My second negative opinion was:
“I should be better / more successful in my training.”
Question: Is that true?
My answer: “Yes, it feels true to me.”
Question: “Can you know with absolute certainty that this is true?”
My answer: “No, I’m already doing my best.”
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.”
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 training.”
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 to relieve our joints.
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All the best!
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