Today I am going to go through a belief I had recently about anxiety. I will hold this belief up against the 4 questions of The Work of Byron Katie.
Let me show you how, by using 4 Simple Questions and then finding Turnarounds, I was able to set myself free of a belief that was causing me much pain and mental anguish.
My hope is that, by seeing this simple process here, you will be inspired to use The Work on your own limiting beliefs – about anxiety, stress, worry, or anything that is causing you to suffer.
This is a simple way to find peace and freedom! And freedom from suffering is our birthright! 🙂
Ok, so here is the belief that was troubling me:
Anxiety is making my life unbearable again.
Question 1: Is It True?
Hell yes! I was in complete torture in the weeks leading up to my recent flight. How stupid fucking anxieyt wrapped its tentacles around me again after doing so well for so long, I’ll never know. It sucks! I’m so sick of this nonsense. I was going to cancel my trip, it was so bad. It was messing up my life!
Question 2: Can You Absolutely Know It’s True?
Well, I don’t know, let me think about it. Can I ABSOLUTELY know it’s true that anxiety is making my life unbearable again?
Um, I don’t know. I can still function, I can work, I can eat, I can cook, I can drive, I can do what I need to do. I am still here. I am basically ok I guess if it weren’t for that upcoming flight.
So absolutely, in the highest sense, I guess I can’t know it’s absolutely true that anxieyt is making my life unbearable. I can’t know that for sure. Thre are times when I’m not thinking about it and I’m fine. Ok, so…
Question 3: How Do You React When You Believe The Thought?
When I believe that anxieyt is making my life unbearable again I feel a total loss of control. I feel the anxiety in the pit of my stomach, and let it take me away. I stay in the fearful nightmare. Can’t relax, can’t talk to Bob, can’t communicate with family or friends, thoughts come in that tell me I’m all alone, it will never end.
It takes over my perception and makes life hell. It makes everything scary. I notice I’m almost paranoid. looking around every corner. Living very carefully, cautiously. Seeing the world this way, everything looks dark, menacing, threatening. Life is hell. HELL.
Question 4: And Who Would You Be Without The Thought?
(Meaning, who would you be if it weren’t possible for you to think the thought ‘Anxiety is Making My Life Hell Again’?)
Without the thought, I would just be the witness of it. Creating space around it with a clear mind.
I could feel anxiety, I could feel it as a gnawing pit in my stomach and just notice it. Just notice it as a benign physical sensation without having a horrendous story attached to it. It’s not really that bad when I experience it this way actually…
Now Find Genuine Turnarounds to the Original Statement. Ones that are As True or Truer than the Original Statement.
1. Anxiety is making my life easy again
How is this true? It’s true because when I notice it now, I feel like shit for awhile, but not for long. It prompts me to take action and help myself.
I am getting a crash course in self care, and staying grounded in the present.
I have had moments of sheer overload of gratitude when the anxiety goes away. When I listen to a helpful audio (like this one), or listen to the Alter Picture Audio from the 60 Second Panic Solution. Such moments of peace and love that wells up from within, once the anxiety melts away. The love feels so strong, I almost can’t contain it.
So many things to help me. To realize and be appreciative that there are so many things that helped me get through that anxious phase. It was very life affirming! All I had to do was make myself receptive and available to receiving help!
Thank you Lord!
It also helps me be connected in the world. I know I am not alone in my suffering.
I am learning to accept and love my nervous system. What a strange but welcome feeling! For years and years I just hated everything about my nervous system and my tendency to feel anxious. I even remember a time I wanted to have surgery to have the anxious part of my brain removed!
Thankfully I am kinder to myself today.
I am learning, in baby steps, to experience anxiety without a story. To just watch the sensation without naming it.
And when I can do that, guess what, it goes away! It’s not really the monstrous. malevolent creature I thought it was. Hallelujah!!
I am having moments of peace…. I can notice that even during a stressful time, there are breaks from it. They do come. I just have to be still enough to notice.
I am unraveling decades of conditioning, old stories, just watching and it is absolutely fascinating on some level. Fascinating to see that it was just my thinking that needs to change, and nothing more!
And such great news, because truly, my thinking is the only thing in this world that I have absolute control over! 🙂
2. My Thinking is making my life unbearable again.
Yes! Bingo! That’s it! It attaches to a story of continuous suffering and anxiety. That my children are not ok, that Bob is not ok, that I am not ok. That I can’t travel, that I can’t enjoy life. That families like mine cannot heal from trauma.
When I am in that story, I am in a nightmare and lose touch with reality and my life becomes unbearable. The truth is anxiety comes and goes. When it comes I attach to a story and it is hell.
I hope you can see from my example how it’s not anxieyt that causes our suffering. It’s THE STORY we weave around the situation and believe that causes the suffering.
And once we loosen our grip on that story, the story itself doesn’t feel so real, so powerful anymore. And naturally then, the anxiety and all the drama around it starts to naturally fade away.
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.” – Byron Katie
Here are some other posts about using The Work that you will want to read:
I wish you peace,
Resources for you:
To learn more about The Work, see this site (it is free): http://thework.com/en
Highly recommended reading (this book is on my nightstand) : Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life