“When you say or do anything to please, get, keep, influence, or control anyone or anything, fear is the cause and pain is the result. Manipulation is separation, and separation is painful. Another person can love you totally in that moment, and you’d have no way of realizing it. If you act from fear, there’s no way you can receive love, because you’re trapped in a thought about what you have to do for love. Every stressful thought separates you from people.” – Byron Katie
Now, more than ever, the “disease to please” runs rampant through every social, economic, and spiritual stratum. Whether seeking to please or appease a boss, parent, teacher, preacher, partner, child, friend, or god, many are on an all-consuming quest for love, appreciation, and approval. Even self-help books add to the striving, encouraging and teaching manipulative skills for attracting, impressing, and seducing others by pretending to be something we aren’t.
To put it bluntly, these approaches do not work. Having failed to find love or appreciation from others, millions become the “walking wounded”—blaming themselves and concluding they are unworthy of love. Some authors or gurus go a step further, admonishing individuals to “love yourself” while never addressing the painful root that no amount of bubble baths, candles, or pampering can quell: uninvestigated thoughts.
Byron Katie’s revolutionary process of inquiry has transformed thousands of lives across the globe. Featured in her first book Loving What Is – Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, The Work involves challenging the uninvestigated thoughts that rule our lives. These chaotic stories—which often begin with a “should”—are the source of havoc, discord, and suffering. When met with four simple questions, stressful thoughts and assumptions disappear, allowing individuals to see a situation—and the people in their lives—in an entirely different light. In I Need Your Love – Is That True? Katie applies The Work to relationships and the pursuit of love, admiration and respect. Showing how to take charge of our own happiness, she provides a step-by-step process for inquiring into some of the most painful, foundational beliefs that entire lives are built upon. When exposing these thoughts to the bright light of inquiry, clarity, peace and authentic love emerges. We then realize that we already are everything we’ve been looking for. As Katie says:
“…once you question your thoughts, you discover that you don’t have to do anything for love. It was all an innocent misunderstanding. When you want to impress people and win their approval, you’re like a child who says, ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ It all comes down to a needy child. When you can love that child and embrace it yourself, the seeking is over.”
In the chapter titled The Relationship Workshop, Katie shares actual dialogues of inquiry where she asked the questions and people participating in her workshops and schools answered them. Here are a few of the assumptions they investigated together:
• My Husband Doesn’t Care About Fixing Our Relationship
• I’m Unlovable
• My Parents Should Love and Appreciate Me
• My Spiritual Teacher Let Me Down
• I Want Tons of Approval
• My Father Treated Me Badly
• I’ll Lose My Girlfriend if I Tell the Truth
• I Need Him to Understand Me
• My Love Should Give Me Sex
With penetrating wisdom, Katie shows us how to come to our own rescue and disentangle love from need. By embracing what is, we refuse to argue with reality. Ironically, we then realize that what we were pursuing was really there all along.
The Work has literally changed my life. One example has been with my son, who was diagnosed with PDD-NOS when he was 3 years old. On the autistic spectrum, my son’s behavior—as well as my fretting about his future—brought me much grief and physical distress (including IBS). After investigating the expectations and edicts of “experts” and family, clear wisdom bubbled to the surface from inside. Peace replaced worry and confidence replaced paralysis. I am now able to meet my son with joy and acceptance, loving his uniqueness and beauty. His behavior has changed dramatically, and his amazing progress has been quantified by psychologists. (Not that it matters!) I am convinced that loving what is has provided an atmosphere where he can blossom and thrive—and so can my husband and myself.
Every time I experience a stressful thought that induces anxiety or suffering, I am armed with four simple questions that can literally turn a situation around on a dime.
The more you investigate your thoughts, the easier it gets. You begin to see things for what they really are—reclaiming an innocent, lovable self and the glorious life that you were meant to live. What I said of Katie’s first book also holds true for I Need Your Love – Is That True?: it replaces all the self-help books on your shelf because inquiry is the key to emotional freedom and genuine, effortless love.
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