So, relationships. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em, it would seem.
A client I've been working with over the past month came to me because she felt so desperate in her relationship. She knew she was being needy and wanted not to be but she couldn't seem to do anything about it.
She couldn't stop the spiral of crazy when she thought maybe he wasn't being faithful to her or as interested in her as she is in him. It kept throwing her into an anxious self-conscious depression.
(I haven't thought this way in a long time, but I can sure find it when I look back on my dating history.)
So much suffering. She felt terrible being with him because of all the insecurity but knew she'd feel terrible without him. There was no peace for her.
What she really wanted to do was to change his behaviour. She was quite sure this would solve her feelings of insecurity in the relationship. If she just knew she could trust him, then she could feel safe.
So she would explain to him what she needed from him in order to feel safe and he would reassure her that yes, he did love her and care about her but ... she never felt reassured. It was an endless, fruitless loop. (Not to be confused with fruit loops the cereal.)
So she came to the conclusion that she must be the problem. Because, clearly, something is off here. So someone must be to blame.
Byron Katie has a whole book dedicated to just the topic of seeking love, so prevalent and painful it can be for all of us. It's called I need your love: Is that true? How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead. I highly recommend it.
If I had a prayer it would be, "God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, and appreciation." ~Byron Katie
My client knows about The Work of Byron Katie a little bit so she was ready to do some questioning about her beliefs yet she was still a bit confused when I invited her to write the worksheet on her boyfriend.
"But aren't I already judging him and that's the problem?" she asked. "Like, I just need to trust him, right?"
She noticed she wasn't actually able to do this. We can't make ourselves believe what we don't: she couldn't force herself to believe that he is trustworthy. Or force herself to not be needy.
So how to get out of this mess? Enter the Judge Your Neighbour worksheet, the first step of this self-inquiry process.
We need to first find out what the heck we are believing that is making us so crazy. Until we slow the mind down and actually look for this, we stay muddled in our heads.
We try to reason it all out and ... well, have you noticed it just doesn't work?
So she wrote an entire worksheet on him and found a whole trove of thoughts she didn't know she was thinking. She immediately felt relief even just with this first step.
And then we started at the top and began questioning (the second step of this 2-part process) what she was so sure about. (You'll find the 4 questions at the bottom of the worksheet.)
It blew her world wide open (in a good way).
She came to see that, actually, she had started believing this concept of "betrayal" at quite a young age in relation to her step-dad and that as she's gone through life, her mind looks for proof of that. And it 'finds' it.
We see what we believe. There's no other option. She believed that she was at some point going to be betrayed so she stayed on high alert for this very thing in an attempt to protect her.
And whether or not he was untrustworthy, this did not stop her mind from reaching this conclusion. A sort of pre-empted rejecting of him before she could be rejected.
In other words, she got to be right.
And we will fight to the (ego) death for this -- to confirm our take on the nature of life.
(You've probably heard the saying, "People would rather die than be wrong." There's a famous version of it in that movie, A Few Good Men, where Jack Nicholson's military general character yells at Tom Cruise's lawyer character in the courtroom: "I'd rather die than say WE. WERE. WRONG!" Who knew he was speaking for so many of us, unbeknownst to us?!)
So in seeing all of this, my client got free of this concept, He betrayed me.
There was no convincing or self-pressuring or willpower or pleading required. She just saw what was true: that the mind concluded this at a young age so that she would go through life trying to protect herself from repeating that painful experience of being betrayed by someone.
We checked in with her whether that early experience of betrayal was actually true ... Turns out, no.
And this doesn't mean she trusts him not to be faithful and throws away the key. End of story.
It just means that she doesn't rely on him being faithful to her ... because it's not about him at all, it's about her and her relationship to life, to people, to herself. She is now free for him to be faithful or unfaithful but in fact, her peace -- her freedom -- doesn't rely on this.
And this is the power of The Work. "The truth is out there" (ha, another big catch-phrase at the time of this TV show in the 90s) ... and self-inquiry allows us to easily see it for ourselves, to see the difference between reality and imagination.
Maybe for you it's not a romantic relationship that is making you miserable but maybe it's your job, money, colleague, or one of your kids. Or maybe you believe you are the problem in this whole doing life right thing. Maybe you believe you are failing. (Gosh, can I ever relate to this belief.)
The thought-reel plays over and over in your mind (especially frantically at 3-4am) and you are powerless to get it to stop. Like my client, you might even see the insanity of it all but that doesn't seem to have any effect because she couldn't willpower her way out of it.
If you want support looking at your own relationship struggles ... of any kind, or with something else that is bothering you, then you can find me here. I've got two different coaching programs to choose from: my signature 3-month one and my 1-month 'emergency' one (if you, like my client, are feeling pretty desperate to solve a current issue in your life).
They are both very high-touch programs in that we meet on Zoom (or phone) once or twice per week.
You've got me in your back pocket for the duration.
I will take you through every step of this Work so you can a high degree of clarity on every issue you want to look at.
You can also just start with a single session to try this work out and see what you think.
People continue to be amazed at the power of this work. It works. (Katie likes to say, "The Work works if you work it.") Let's do The Work!