Friday, March 27, 2009

Who Would You Be Without Your Story?

Byron Katie's newest book is entitled Who Would You Be Without Your Story? Dialogues with Byron Katie. I have been reading this book for the past several weeks. I just finished it this morning. It is a fantastic read. I would recommend it to anyone who wants peace in your life.

The book is a collection of dialogues between Katie and the participants of a workshop that she did. It gives actual conversations where Katie takes the person through the steps of what she calls The Work. Here is a list of several of the titles of the dialogues:
Joe is Irresponsible
My Mother Wouldn't Approve
I Can't Stand It That George Fell in Love with Linda
Cancer Ruined My Life
I'm Not Enough---and Some People Are Better Than Others
My Father Abused Me

Katie teaches you that when you believe your thoughts about other people, the world, and your own selves that you suffer. She says that suffering is optional. By choosing what you believe, you get to choose whether to suffer or not. Seeing your thoughts for what they are, the imagination of your mind, you can end all of your suffering.

This process involves doing inquiry of yourself with the use of four questions:
"Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it's true?
How do you react when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without that thought?" (page viii, Who Would You Be Without Your Story?, Dialogues with Byron Katie)

The first thing that The Work has you do is to write down your judgments about any stressful situation that you are dealing with in your life. These situations can be past, present or even something that you worry might happen in the future. How many times do you find yourself reliving the past or worrying about the future? Katie asks you to write about every person that you haven't 100% forgiven. She says if you only have 1% that you haven't forgiven, that your thoughts about that person are still causing you to be suffer. Any time that you are stressed out, you are suffering from the beliefs that you have.

On the last page of Katie's book, you will find a page that gives you a copy of her "Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet". You can also find a copy of this worksheet online at Byron Katie's website: under the Resources section.

Albert of Urban Monk.Net ( ) suggested to me over a year ago that I look at Byron Katie's books. Albert thought that they might help to resolve some of the issues that I was facing at the time. At the time I bought the book Loving What Is but I didn't read more than a few pages. The timing wasn't right for me to get her message. Now that I have read Who Would You Be Without Your Story? , I will go back and read the first book. I am ready to do The Work now. I hope that you will join me in reading these books and in finding peace in your own life by doing inquiry into your thoughts and beliefs.
Have a glorious day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Finding The Answers---Do You Have Them All?

How do you condense one very eventful week into one article and not have it go on and on and on? You start at the beginning of just one day. I am going to start with today, Sunday, March 15, and go backwards. On the surface, my week doesn't look eventful. I was sick with a stomach virus and diarrhea for 3 days. Where was my week eventful? In my mind and heart, I made several important connections this week.

This morning when I opened my emails, one of the first ones that I read was from Lance over at the blog, The Jungle of Life. Every Sunday Lance does a "Sunday Thought For The Day" article. Today's article was the words and a youtube video about the song "Circle of Life" by Sir Elton John. The video is of Sir Elton John singing the song "Circle of Life" while you watch scenes from the making of the movie "The Lion King". You can click on the following link and go watch and listen to the youtube video:
Come back here when you are finished.

Sir Elton John's music was a hit starting in the 1970's when my husband and I were dating and then married. He has always been a favorite of mine, long before he became a knight in England. When "The Lion King" came along, I watched it with my children. I loved it and the song "Circle of Life". Both are so metaphysical in meaning. Thanks Lance, for reminding me of all of these memories today. This was a great way to start a glorious day.

Next, on my morning trip to the bathroom, I read the December 28, 2008 (which was also a Sunday) article (Hey, so I am behind. At least I am finally reading it.) of Daily Word, December 2008, page 42. It says,

"I am grateful for the constant flow of God's blessing in my life.
I welcome this day with a thankful heart. Beginning my morning in this way cultivates an attitude of gratitude not only for special occasions but for every day.
As I arise from a peaceful night, I give thanks to God for rest received and for blessings to come. This sets a positive tone, one that attracts life-enhancing experiences to me.
Sharing a simple 'thank you' with others generates good feelings. My gratefulness is contagious and becomes a positive, attitude-changing influence."

Next, I read this morning's March 15, 2009 Daily Word on page 29. It starts out with the words,
"Trusting in God, I am fulfilled.
When events do not turn out as I planned, I don't let myself become bogged down in disappointment or allow my enthusiasm to wane. In prayer, I bring myself back to center. I turn my perspective around so that I see things in a new way and celebrate the good that is always there for me. . . . ."

"Turning around to face my good, I realize that what might have at first discouraged me will prove to be the dawning of a greater, more fulfilling experience."

I will leave you on your own to gather what the above statements might mean to you personally. If you want to share in the comment section below, you can. I am still sorting through my own stuff right now so am not yet in a place of sharing it with you.

On the past few Wednesday nights, I have gone to an Al-Anon meeting with my friend. When she asked me to go to these meetings with her over a year ago, I didn't realize that I needed the meetings as much as she did. I don't live with an alcoholic. I haven't since I was 19 and left home. What I do live with is myself and my husband. Both of us are adult children of alcoholics. Those patterns of behavior seem to be engrained within both of us and still get activated in times of stress like I wrote about in last week's article "More Patterns of Behavior Means More Awareness" which you can find at:
At this week's Al-Anon meeting which was on the topic of "You are only as sick as your secrets.", I was aware of a part of me that some call "the watcher". A part of me was watching and listening to what was being said and to my reactions to what was being said.

Usually as I am listening to every speaker, I am planning what I will say when it is my turn, rehearsing it in my mind. This time, instead of rehearsing, I touched the part of me that I have been holding back from the group. To a degree, I do this all the time. I think we all do. It is easier for me to do this because of the childhood belief that I need to protect myself from you or you will hurt me. One of my secrets that I got in touch with but haven't shared with the Al-Anon group is that they scare me still. (I haven't shared it because as I was typing the last sentence, I just got it myself. So you can see, I am still figuring out some of the lessons that came at me this week.)

What I did share with the Al-Anon group was that when I came into Al-Anon in 1989, I didn't trust women at all. In my mind, women were more likely to judge me harshly because of the incest than men were. (This was my belief. I don't know if it was true or not but it was my belief.) For awhile, trusting women less than men didn't make sense to me because it was men that sexually abused me. What I said in the meeting was that I thought women would judge me harshly because the women in my childhood were judgmental.

My mother who was always angry but rarely voiced it. Silence was my mother's weapon of choice. I have attracted people to me with that trait until I learned that their silence wasn't a weapon unless I allowed it to be. I also found out that if I didn't act out their anger, then they were more likely to voice it for themselves. Voicing it makes it possible to deal with the anger. With anger came judgments.

My grandmother and mother were always angry at each other since before I was a child. I could always feel the judgments going back and forth between the two of them without understanding what it was about. I know they loved each other and they were also angry with each other.

I think that I have probably shared the story about one of my maternal aunts telling me that I was going to Hell because I was wearing shorts. I was about 5 or 7 years old at the time. A part of that child must have believed her because that is still a strong memory of mine. She was never one of my favorite aunts. I was afraid of her as a child. As an adult, I felt angry with her for being such a religious fanatic. Now I can see how unhappy she was. I can forgive her.

I can forgive those women in my life who were judgmental and who taught me to be judgmental. For me to fear being judged, some part of me is still judging me or I wouldn't be afraid. I can take this a step further and forgive that judgmental part of myself. She is still a child afraid of being hurt. I can take her into my arms and into my heart and hug her until she doesn't hurt any more. Usually my solar plexus is where I feel all of this. My heart is what feels this and hurts for the little girl. I think that I need to go and just sit with this for awhile.

I hope that by sharing the above process it will help someone else to heal what may still need healing. As you can see, I still don't have it all figured out for myself. Isn't that what this life is all about---finding the answers for yourself?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More Family Patterns of Behavior Means More Awareness

Who Would You Be Without Your Story? Dialogues with Byron Katie, Edited by Carol Williams, 2008: "If there's someone who makes your blood boil, thank him. He's showing you what you need to know to become a kinder person. He's doing the best he can, and so are you."

Those are the words that Byron Katie opens her new book with. It is the perfect way to start my story of the recent two day trip that my husband Daniel and I went on last week. I am not writing about the trip. I am writing to share with you what I learned about myself.

Daniel is an adventurer. He swears he has Daniel Boone somewhere in his ancestry. He doesn't. He just wishes he did. He just shares the adventurous spirit and the same first name. When you go on any trip with Daniel expect to be tired when you get home. When I was younger, I recuperated much quicker than I do today. He puts as many activities and miles as he can possibly squeeze into each day.

On our recent trip, we went to Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Van Buren, and Bentonville in northwestern Arkansas and from Bentonville headed northeast to Springfield, Missouri. We spent the night in Springfield so we could tour the Wilson Creek Battlefield and National Park to do research on the Civil War battle that took place there on August 10, 1861. It was the second major battle of the Civil War. Daniel had some ancestors that fought there. Because of his hobbies of genealogy and Civil War reenacting, Daniel has become a little bit of a Civil War historian. This was research for a book that Daniel is writing about one of his great-grandfathers who fought in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier from Arkansas.

When Daniel asked if I wanted to go with him on this two day trip, I told him that I would go only on the condition that I could be home to watch the TV show Ghost Whisperer at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night. He said we would be. We were home at 6:00 p.m. Friday evening but only because I threw a tantrum and held him to his word.

Here is what I learned about myself: I still want what I want when I want it. I can be unbending and unforgiving when I don't get what I want. I can still rant and rave to get my way. I can feel guilty about my behavior afterwards. I do know how to apologize even when Daniel and I both know it probably won't be the last time that I will go off on him.

When I saw and heard what I was saying, that is when the ability to change came about. I can only change what I am aware of.

I still don't like that part of myself that can throw a temper tantrum when she doesn't get her way. I also no longer beat myself up for the behaviour. I need to be able to bend more and at the same time not be a doormat to others. I also don't need to treat others as my doormat. I don't have the right to treat others that way. I do have the right to stand up for myself. I can also do that standing up for myself with patience and kindness for myself and for the other person. I don't have to beat the other person up with my anger and words. It is ok to be angry without acting on that anger.

I can acknowledge that, yes, I lost my temper again. I can look at the reasons for losing my temper. How can I change that part of me or at least change how that part of me reacts to stress and anger?

Why did I lost my temper this time? I felt disappointed at the possibility of missing Ghost Whisperer. I felt disappointed that Daniel wasn't going to keep his word. I felt that he thought his time was worth more than mine. I felt devalued as a person and partner in our marriage.

What childhood pattern did this come from? My parents would say they were going to do something and then they wouldn't do it. I never had a say so of any kind in decisions made about me during my childhood. Younger children don't need this as much as an older child does. Decision making is how we learn to make decisions while having the safety net of parents to tell us that those decisions are appropriate or not. If you aren't taught decision making, you don't learn that decisions have responsibility and consequences. Chaos reigned in our household. Nobody was dependable. Nobody's word meant anything. They never did what they said they would. They yelled and screamed when they got angry, which was often. As a child, I felt that I had no value as an individual. Everybody else had more value than I did.

What did I find out about myself on this trip? I still sometimes react like the child living that childhood. Do I have to continue doing it? No. Will this behavior of mine stop immediately since I am now aware? Probably not. Why? Because I am not the perfectionist that I once was. Each time I become aware of it quicker until finally I will stop this particular behavior. Writing about it helps to reenforce the awareness. Do you still have some behaviors from childhood that you struggle with? How can you become more aware?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Appreciate You

Karl Staib over at the blog Work Happy Now! wrote an article about showing appreciation which he named "How to Change Your Company's Office Culture" ( ).

Expressing your appreciation to others is something that I strongly believe in. Karl talks about how a teacher anonymously sharing notes and small, inexpensive gifts with her/his fellow teachers changed the whole work environment of the school. Anonymous acts of kindness or random acts of kindness can do so much good for yourself and other people.

I wonder how many people in the world would be affected positively if today everyone who reads this article anonymously did some small act of kindness for someone that you know or for someone who is a perfect stranger? You can't know how someone else will feel but you can know how you feel after doing a kindness for someone else.

That inner glow of love that you feel changes your day totally. It also changes who you are. You become a better person for doing such a small act of kindness. You touch that spark of the divine in yourself, that spark that we all have. In doing an act of appreciation, you tell yourself and others that someone cares. That someone is you, the real you, the divine spark that is the God within each of us.

Thanks, Karl, for sharing this idea in your blog for me to read today. Thanks to each of my readers for taking the time to be here with me on my blog today. Thanks for spreading love with your own acts of appreciation. I really do love and appreciate each and everyone of you. Have a glorious day.