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Doing The Work - Personal Update

Friday, February 25, 2011

Well guys - I've been working at doing the work and sometimes it seems to work better than others. I'm pretty sure that if I had Byron Katie to talk to every day I'd be well on my way to getting a bunch of work actually done. However... I'm stuck with me... so... there's that!

I really enjoyed watching the video of her working with the guy about his inability to live up to his full potential. And I wish that simply WATCHING someone else doing the work was as good as, or even better than doing the work myself... but... no such luck.

And so, while I could clearly see for HIM - I am still unable to see much at all for ME. My belief system about me being a failure remains intact. I've been thinking that it might be a good idea to check out their free hotline. But I haven't done that yet because... well... I dunno... I might have to give up that "I'm a failure" idea.

I thought I'd post an example of how I've been getting along with "the work." I'm hoping that maybe writing it all out will bring me some small revelation. Also, it might be a conversation starter - or something we could talk about here. Plus, I thought it would be the best way to illustrate how I go round and round and not making much headway. I decided to use the One Belief At A Time Worksheet. The worksheet questions are in bold, my answers are italicized.

Belief: I am a failure at life.
  • Is it true?
    It feels true.
  • Can you absolutely know it's true?
    ok.. no, not absolutely. I mean, maybe there might be some miracle where somehow, by some miracle, I get better at navigating this life experience and actually find success... maybe... a 1% chance... maybe 2%... and I suppose that maybe the simple fact that I am still alive implies a small measure of success...
  • How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
    I contract, close in, constrict, curl up into a little ball...
  • What emotions happen when you believe that thought?
    I feel depressed, defeated, tired, like I want to go and hide under the bed, under the rug, under the couch, under a rock...
  • Does that thought bring peace or stress into your life?
    stress - absolutely!
  • What images do you see, past and future, when you believe that thought?
    my filthy house, burned siding, bills, dirty dishes, my little dog suffering and me not being able to do anything about it, myself old and frail with no one and nothing, working at a hard dirty job until I drop dead of fatigue, OMG! This is really depressing!!!
  • What addictions/obsessions begin to manifest when you believe that thought?
    I eat, sometimes I turn on the TV so I can distract myself from the discomfort, sometimes I get on the computer... like now... and turn out reams of mindless bullshit
  • Describe the physical sensations that happen when you believe that thought.
    My heart feels heavy, my shoulders slump, it's harder to breathe, I sigh a lot, there is such a strong desire to hide underneath something heavy - 6 ft of dirt maybe...
  • How do you treat that person and others when you believe that thought?
    By that person, I'm assuming she means me... and I treat me... hmmm... I go away from myself, I retreat, I'm like... 'get away you pathetic ridiculous creature'... I don't even want to be in the same room with me. How do I treat others? well, I retreat there as well... it occurs to me that I'm in full retreat most of the time these days. Absent. Not there.
  • How do you treat yourself when you believe that thought?
    Oops, already answered that one.
  • Who would you be without the thought? Close your eyes, and observe, contemplate. Who or what are you without that thought? without that thought, I'd be... well... more relaxed, happier, smiling, I'd be ... the word that comes to mind is real. I'd feel like a real person. Like a real me (not THE real me - but A real me).

Now come the turnarounds (examples shown are an example for work on "Paul hurt me"). As you can see with the exception of the first one - I didn't do very well. Only the first one sounds true.
  • To the self. (I hurt me.) -
    and maybe that's what this is about - I'm not a failure at life - I'm a failure of me! ouch!! I have failed myself! Is that true? Yes. Absolutely!!
  • To the other. (I hurt him.)
    This one is hard to figure out. All I can come up with is: "Life has failed me" and I'm not believing it - although I do like the sound of it. Makes it NOT my fault. 
  • To the opposite. (He didn’t hurt me.)
    Let me see... that would translate to: I am a success at life. Not thinking that's true! 
  • Or another opposite (He helped me.)
    I am a successful failure. And this isn't even true either - I'm a failure at being a failure, and have only succeeded in being somewhat mediocre and boring!

Give at least three genuine, specific examples for each.
I wasn't able to come up with 3 examples for each one, but I did come up with at least one for each turnaround. Here they are:

  • I have failed myself.
    Here's an example: I am not "here" for me. I don't take very good care of me. I'm not someone I can rely on for help or comfort. When I'm feeling low, I ditch myself every time. The only time I'm nice to me is when "life" is being nice to me. I am my most fairweather-ist of friends!
    Ok... that's not specific is it? Hmmm... specific... okay, how's this? I sleep on the couch because my bed is so uncomfortable - and even if I had the money for a new mattress or good mattress pad, I wouldn't use it for that because there are so many other things more important than my physical comfort... for example - Norton Anti-virus, which I will absolutely buy as soon as it comes due whether I can afford it or not.
  • Life has failed me.
    An example of how life has failed me? I don't think I can come up with anything here - because I don't think it's really true. My expectations of life have failed me (now we're back to me failing me), but life? Life simply is what it is... Which brings me to the question of how could I be a failure at something that simply is what it is...
  • I am a success at life.
    ... hmmm... can I come up with an example of that? Well, I'm not dead. That implies success of some sort. And even more concrete example is - well, I woke up this morning having NOT died in my sleep.
  • I am a failure at being a failure.
    - ok... what concrete example can I come up with to support that turn around? I have a job where I am very much needed and appreciated. That implies some success somewhere - which makes me not a TOTAL failure. And that makes me a failure at being a failure. I know it's a stretch - but the fact that there is some success underscores my failure at failing... Sounds like a mind game doesn't it? And I'm probably not even really a failure at being a failure - I'm just nothing... not a success - not a failure - I'm in that nothing place in between the two - and now I feel like I'm even worse off than when I started out...

But wait! I took a short coffee break and in the interim, I think I might have come up with something helpful. It occured to me that the "I'm a failure at life" statement doesn't lend itself very well to this kind of work. And maybe it would be interesting to add the word "because". So I did:

I'm a failure at life because...
  • I don't have any money. (not true) I truly don't believe that money equals or even insures success. It makes success easier - sometimes - yes. But many people that I respect and would want to be like do not or did not have money. Besides - I do have some money. And when I really really need it, I always seem to find it. So my failure at isn't about money.
  • I am alone. (not true) For one thing I'm really not alone, I just live alone, and sometimes I feel alone, but the truth is, I am not alone at all. I have family and friends who care about me. I have more than 500 facebook friends - and yes, all but 4 or 5 of them don't even know me - but if I want to have a conversation with a real person - I could certainly do that. So, no I'm not alone. Which means my failure isn't about aloneness either.
  • I don't have any friends. (not true) I do have at least 2 really close friends, and if my youngest daughter counts, I have 3. Which is definitely more than 0.
  • I don't like my job. (not true) Actually I do kind of like my job... as much as a person can like working really really hard doing terrible things like cleaning up vomit and working with crazy people. However! I am appreciated, I am pretty much my own boss, I work with my daughter whom I love, I feel needed, I am important - that place doesn't run nearly as well when I'm not there. No I don't make much money, but we've already hit on the money thing... So, no, my failure isn't about my job.
  • My dog died. (true) Yes, my little dog died, and I loved her so so much, she was my heart. And my heart went out of me when she died and it was really terrible - and brutally sad - but that fact doesn't make me a failure at life. I have not gotten over it - maybe I never will - does that make me a failure at life? Or does that simply mean that I'm a really sad person right now? I think it just means that I'm sad and grieving!
  • My dog got really sick and I couldn't do anything about it. (true) Ok.. now we're getting somewhere I think. This is true - and I haven't been the same since - I find it hard to cope with the simplest of things. It's like I got the wind knocked out of me and never got it back. I'm adrift.  Which actually describes me quite well: Adrift – Afloat and unattached in any way to the shore or seabed, but not under way. It implies that a vessel is not under control and therefore goes where the wind and current take her (loose from moorings, or out of place). Also refers to any gear not fastened down or put away properly. It can also be used to mean "absent without leave".

And there we have it folks - the root of the matter! The REAL truth. I am adrift - the wind knocked out of my sails - no real desire to go anywhere, no direction, loose from my moorings and out of place - I am absent without leave - absolutely true!!

So where do I go from here? I've discovered that no, I'm not a failure at life - I'm just AWOL! Ok. And maybe I want to be AWOL! Maybe I'm mad at life - maybe I don't like life - maybe I'm tired of life - maybe I don't want to be enrolled in the great "naval academy" of life anymore - maybe  my white flag of surrender says "f*ck you" Mr. Life Experience - I quit!! Maybe I'm having a temper tantrum over the whole thing! And if that's true ( and it seems true to me) then what?

What's the work on that? Do I fill out a work sheet about how I'm angry at God and the Powers that Be because my life didn't go how I wanted it to go and now I have to feel actual grief and pain? So, I did the work and now there's more work? Yowsers!!! When do we get recess? Isn't it nap time yet? I'm hungry! Oh, and what's on TV? Don't we have any movies?


sanehat said...

Wow, I don't even know where to begin. Wait, first I am so proud of you for not only doing the work but following through to some kind of break through. Okay sorry I lost my train of thought. Will have to discuss this with you.

Shirley Twofeathers said...

Thanks Daniel - and what is even more interesting is that now I'm 100% sure that I'm not a failure at life!

It wasn't a dramatic shift - it was just like... ok... well... now what - and then I realized that I'm not a failure at life - I'm just really really pissed off because it isn't going according to MY PLANS!!!

It really helped to add the "because" to the end of my statement. Before I did that, I really felt stuck.

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