This shouldn’t be happening to me

This week for several days I kept waking up feeling sick. There’d be a moment of feeling into the purely physical experience of my body and registering weakness, nausea, queasy guts and a generally grey film over my mind. And then in a dark corner of my mind there was a reaction; a series of frustrated thoughts began protesting and whining. “Oh, no, not again! Oh, I’m still ill, oh god, today’s going to be a drag, oh, this is terrible, this is ruining this week, why can’t I get just better fast…. etc” Before long I’d slipped in to a subtle state of depression and Poor Me-itus. 

Alarmed, I knew I had to tackle this mind tantrum or it would dominate my mood all day. Time for inquiry! I isolated the key basic thought: “This shouldn’t be happening to me! (I shouldn’t be feeling sick)”

Is that true? Yes! 

Can you absolutely know that that’s true? Um, no. 

How do you react when you cling to this thought that you shouldn’t be feeling sick? I notice, feeling inside to check out my emotions and energy, that I droop, feel sad, heavy, and I feel a bit angry, resentful, miserable, trapped.  I see pictures of myself as cheated of my day. My day ahead looks grey. I see life as a struggle. I notice I feel I’m getting a raw deal in life this week.

Who would you be without this thought? What would it be like if you weren’t focused on this thought ? I sat for quite a while, cycling those questions through my system. I like to take my time with Question 4, letting it work throughout my system. It’s not about trying to change my mind about the thought I’m questioning, I’m more just deeply asking my whole system and letting it respond. 

Gradually things began to lighten. I felt more cheerful, more relaxed, more present. The greyness lifted off. The story of being trapped fell away. 

I looked at the Turnaround: This should be happening to me. Yes, I just am ill. It’s that simple. It’s not personal. I’m not exempt from getting ill. Sometimes I do get ill. Ok. 

I got out of bed and while I still felt giddy, nauseous and weak, I noticed my mind was clearer. Somehow, it was now ok to feel sick – it was something my body was going through, but now it wasn’t who I was, it didn’t define or confine me. Instead there was a sense of just needing to taking things gently, to work within my current physical limits, respecting the body’s need for rest and lighter food. 



I’ve had a lot of illness over the years as I have a chronic condition, and I keep learning from each occasion that I can easily get triggered into believing a stressful story about the situation, and taking it personally. Feeling sick or ill can be a real challenge, we naturally want to feel well all the time. And so there’s this emotional protest. And I‘ve always noticed that this protest makes me feel upset and stressed on top of feeling ill. And that if I do The Work, the resistance to the reality of my situation drops away leaving me in a better state, more able to relax and recover.  

Life SHOULD Be Different to How It Is Right Now

I find it very useful to inquire into the “Shoulds” that pop up in my mind about me or others or the world. Shoulds are all about the idea that Life SHOULD Be Different to How It Is Right Now.

Well, is that really true? It’s so interesting to get curious, to take a look at that idea, see what happens when a Should is running my life in the moment, what the effect is of that thought.

Here’s an informal but nevertheless serious inquiry into a thought that’s been lurking around in the corner of my mind for a few days….today I nabbed it, sat it down and questioned it.

I should feel creatively inspired right now.
Is that true?
Yes.
Really? What’s your reality right now?
I don’t feel inspired. I feel tired and spent. My neck really aches!

So how do you treat yourself when you believe this idea?
I judge myself, put me down, see me as all used up as an artist, nothing to say, nothing to give, pointless. I get depressed. Feel hard done by. Feel flat and empty in my chest. Feel resentful at life. It’s not fair! Do a bit of inner tantrum.

And how do you treat your recent artworks when you believe this idea?
I devalue them, discount them. I disconnect from them. Ignore them. Compare them with other artists’ work and see mine as washouts.

So is this idea that you should feel creatively inspired right now, a stressful thought or is it peaceful?
Very stressful, really painful.

So who would you be without this idea that you should be creatively inspired, right now?
Mmmm……I notice I start to let go of some holding in the body…. start to sink into and accept the tiredness……that feels better…… I actually expand…… relax more.
Without the thought I get more present…… feel more at ease…….mind quietens.

Turnaround: I shouldn’t be creatively inspired, right now.
Truer – I’m committed to do a lot of work this week. I‘m now recognizing this just isn’t the moment for getting creative in the art studio. Now is for taking a rest between work activities.
I step out of pushing to be the “ideal me” into a more real view of this moment.
And wow, now my neck hurts a lot less! Aaaaahhhh….better!

You’re Not Emotionally Healed? Is That True?

Lost_2005_HelenaWeaver_cSitting with a client today, wandering through the landscape of “there’s something wrong with me” we came across the subtle variant: “I’m not emotionally healed.”

You’re not emotionally healed?  Is that true? I asked.

I can find where I plug into this idea too. It’s such a common one – so many of us get caught up in it. As I examine this concept I am struck by how conditional life is when I believe this powerful thought. How I am now is not enough. Images arise of the ideal me I should be, in the future, when fully emotionally healed: A me who’s shiny and glowing, my life perfectly sorted out, everything tidy and optimum. Ahhhh…..

By comparison, now looks inadequate, provisional, a getting by, apologetic, even shameful. After all, I’m not emotionally healed – and obviously I should be. The more I examine what it feels like to believe this idea, the more my energy drops, my body subtly slumps. I see how I mortgage the present, promise myself to become a me in a future that never actually manifests, and carry an inner image of myself as insufficient and deficient. I watch this state of mind breeds an anxious striving to get better, to fix myself, that creates an impossible goal I must always fail to achieve. This is so stressful.

Who would I be without this thought I am not emotionally healed? If I didn’t place this criteria upon myself, what would now feel like?

Interesting… I notice the categories of “emotionally healed” or “not emotionally healed” begin to dissolve. It’s like watching boxes crumble. What if I can’t use these categories to assess myself? What if I don’t stick these labels on my feelings?

There’s a moment of disorientation, an unfamiliar sense of space where the boxes were. A layer of shame loosens and dissolves. And my actual current emotions, feelings and sense of body become foreground.

I start to notice them directly and with curious interest in them instead of using any stressful or painful ones as proof that I am not emotionally healed.  There’s a turning towards the feelings, an acceptance of them. A listening to them, to their messages. Some are telling me I need more sleep than I’ve got lately. And that I ate too much chocolate yesterday. Others tell me I’m still a bit disappointed about something that happened recently. It feels good to pay more attention to them, to allow them to express themselves. To give them time and to take in their information.

As I continue to ask the question, who would I be without the thought that I’m not emotionally healed, my sense of myself expands, I feel lighter and freer. I feel more present, more awake, things brighten up, my body sits up, there is more ease.

The future drops away, together with the urge to strive to be better. My body begins to deeply relax. Tight places loosen. And a conceptual space appears within and around me, free of categories of emotional healing. I feel less defined, more spacious.

I just am. Just life living itself, experiencing this and that, is all.

What is The Work of Byron Katie?

Doing-The-Work

The Work of Byron Katie is a process of inquiry through which we can examine the stressful stories we have about our lives, that cause us confusion and suffering.

What is a story?

Well, any thought can be a story – he should understand me, for example. Even a single thought like that one creates an certain expectation inside us – and so creates tension and suffering – as we look at someone else and feel something is missing from our relationship, something that we feel ought to be available from them. We treat them differently then.

The Work of Byron Katie is a process of questioning our thoughts to see if they are really true for us. We tend to assume they are – because we’ve never stopped to look and ask ourselves.

When we question a thought like he should understand me using The Work of Byron Katie, we can notice the effect on us and on our relationship to another, of thinking this thought, of living out of this expectation. We can notice how it causes us stress and unhappiness. How it even creates tension and contraction in our bodies.

The process of inquiry then guides us into the experience of exploring and discovering what it would be like to be without that thought dominating – however subtly – our attitude to someone in our life. The Work gives us an opportunity to look into the world that emerges when we don’t hold onto the thought. 

My own experience of doing The Work on this thought and other thoughts like it, is that, as a result, an unimagined inner freedom emerges – together with a quieter, more peaceful mind. And I have seen how my relationships change, becoming free of resentment and manipulation. Then love flows naturally and easily….