Episode 64: Byron Katie – Loving What Is
Can you reduce the amount of suffering in your life just by asking a few specific questions? Bestselling author Byron Katie proposes that through a simple process of inquiry, we can let go of anger, change our perceptions, and live life without failure. In her book, Loving What Is, she outlines four questions to help you work through stressful situations. On this episode, we’ll examine each of them and I’ll put them to the test with a real situation from my life.
- “I woke up, and all the darkness was gone.” Listen to @ByronKatie’s story on the latest #podcast episode #quote
- Witness how you’re reacting to your situations with @ByronKatie’s four questions #thework
Book: Loving What Is
Bio: Byron Katie, founder of The Work, has one job: to teach people how to end their own suffering. As she guides people through the powerful process of inquiry she calls The Work, they find that their stressful beliefs—about life, other people, or themselves—radically shift and their lives are changed forever. Based on Byron Katie’s direct experience of how suffering is created and ended, The Work is an astonishingly simple process, accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and requires nothing more than a pen, paper, and an open mind.
Through this process, anyone can learn to trace unhappiness to its source and deal with it there. Katie (as everyone calls her) not only shows us that all the problems in the world originate in our thinking: she gives us the tool to open our minds and set ourselves free.
Peter: Welcome to the Bregman Leadership Podcast. I’m Peter Bregman, your host and CEO of Bregman Partners. This podcast is part of my mission to help you get massive traction on the things that matter most.
We are lucky enough to have with us today Byron Katie. If you don’t know her, you should. I picked up her book many years ago, Loving What Is. To be honest, I picked it up and I read the first few pages. It scared me. I feel a little silly and certainly vulnerable sharing that, but it scared me enough that I stopped reading it. The simple idea of thinking about and accepting life as it is is actually kind of scary and was scary to me and so I stopped reading it.
Then about a month ago, I was fortunate enough to be in a workshop with Katie. That’s how she’s known, from her last name, Katie. It was really amazing. I actually have to admit, also, that I started with a little bit of cynicism in the workshop, feeling like, “Well, it’s these questions and how does a couple of questions really make a big difference,” but the workshop is really powerful. Since then, I have found myself, I don’t know how many times, maybe 30 times over the past month, thinking specifically about the work that I did with her, and the messages that she shares, and the very, very simple questions that can impact our lives very deeply.
I’m very excited to have you on the show. Katie, welcome to the Bregman Leadership Podcast.
Byron Katie: Thank you. Thank you. Good to be with you today. I so enjoyed your presence in the workshop. Every time I would look over to you, I felt some kind of delight. We probably have the same focus.
Peter: I love that. I think we do in many ways. I love that you felt that. Thank you. Why don’t you start, for people who don’t know your work, with sharing the basic idea behind it, or the basic questions that you ask people to ask, and maybe a little background on you so that they have a sense as to where this came from?
Byron Katie: My work, as I say it that way, because I found it in a moment. Or I can say after more than a decade of tremendous suffering, and agoraphobia, and a lot of confusion, depression. One morning as I lay sleeping on the floor, actually a cockroach crawled over my foot. I opened my eyes and I woke up in two ways. I woke up from sleeping, the way we all do every morning, and I woke up and all the darkness was gone. The depression was completely gone. I saw in that moment that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, and when I don’t believe them, I don’t suffer.
I’ve come to see that this is true for every human being. Not to know doesn’t mean we’re stupid. It just leaves room for wisdom. It’s that space where we don’t need to know because everything we need to know, it’s here, right here, right now. There’s no mystery to it. It’s really exciting to live in the present without guessing the future. Or at least to be awake to that as we’re guessing the future, even if it’s a nanosecond ahead of us.
I saw in that movie, to repeat myself, that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, and when I don’t, I don’t. When I don’t believe it, I don’t. It was as though my children stopped recognizing me. My husband stopped recognizing me. It was the same body and I was into inquiry. I was questioning everything. It was silent. People began to ask me, “What is this dramatic shift? What’s happened to you?” They wanted to know. They authentically wanted to know.
I would ask them to put their thoughts on paper. I would sit with them. Then we would question them. The first thought is, “Is it true?” What you’re believing, identify it, and then get very still and ask yourself, “Is it true?” For example, “He doesn’t care about me.” Is it true? Then just get really still and notice those stories, those images and stories of past future, and just notice. Go beyond all of that. “Is it true he doesn’t care about me?” I’ll put it here. Then, “Can I absolutely know that it’s true?”
Peter: You alluded to something that was very profound for me as a takeaway over the weekend, which was you’re not asking these questions to answer them quickly. You’re asking them to sit with them and to allow the answers to become clear to you. There’s this profound difference between asking a question and answering it really quickly, versus answering it and sitting with it and asking, “Is it really true what I’m thinking? Is it really true that he doesn’t like me?” A different answer often appears.
Byron Katie: It is so much fun. It’s just everything I thought I knew, I didn’t know. It was just so much fun to see: How do you live out of that? How do you live out of that? In this, I discovered the universe is friendly. It was a great help. Who was it? Einstein or Socrates? One of them said, “The most important question to answer is is the universe friendly?” I just fell into that. Whether it is or not, I’m still testing after 30 years.
Peter: I think that’s part of the fear that I had when I first read the book – I don’t know that I was convinced that it was friendly, and that if I really allow myself to put myself in the hands of the universe, in a sense, I’m a little afraid of what that’s going to look like. I walk through life with some illusion that I can control the outcomes. I know that I can work hard to move things in a certain direction, but I think there’s a line between the work that we do and the outcomes that we control.
Byron Katie: Yeah. The truth is I am as capable as I am and I live my life out of that, so there’s no failing. I just get to see what I’m capable of and live out of that mystery. There’s nothing to stop me. Basically, I’m living a fearless life. That’s what I invite the world to. When we’re fearful, we bank on not only is it uncomfortable, there’s another way to live.
Millions of people are doing this work on the planet now. It’s just four simple questions. It’s inquiry and it is meditation. It takes stillness, mindfulness, by whatever name. In that, we just blow our own minds until eventually it’s an ongoing, and as I said earlier, it’s like an ongoing, nonstop, silent way of life, even when you’re talking.
Peter: It requires a deep sense of curiosity.
Byron Katie: Yeah, I think so. If you put yourself into that curious place like a child, it was brilliant. It was wonderful. It was end-to-end. I live it. 73 years old. I’ll be 74, I think next month, but I feel like a child. I just feel like a child. I have no idea. There’s so much in that space. I’d just let life show me rather than guess.
Peter: Along with the curiosity, it also seems like, and you’re demonstrating it, and this is the part where I was a little fearful, it does take some courage to question thoughts that you may have had for decades, that you may have built your identity on, that you have defended with the full power of your capability. It takes a lot of courage to say, “You know, I’ve always thought this. I’ve always felt this. This is who I believe myself to be. Is it true?”
Byron Katie: Yes. Yes. Do you know, every time someone sits at this meditation, this inquiry, the identity shifts. We don’t have to fear it. It shifts on its own. It’s always kinder. It’s always wiser. Always safer. Yes, the ego will say, “Oh, this is good enough for me. It’s safe.”
Peter: And we have to be willing to be wrong.
Byron Katie: Oh yeah. Yeah. It’s exciting to be wrong when you notice what you’re believing is stressful.
Peter: I love that. We got to two of the four questions. The first question is, “Is it true?” The second question you said is, “Are you sure?” If you answer your first question, “Yes, it’s true,” then the second question is, “Let’s think about that again. Are we certain that it’s true?” Then your third question.
Byron Katie: It’s notice how you react when you believe the thought. If I had the thought, “He doesn’t care about me,” how do I react when I believe the thought? Will I go to that situation where I was believing that in my mind’s eye? I closed my eyes and I’m just there in that situation with him, and he doesn’t care about me. How do I react when I believe the thought? I see that my speech may be … What would it be for you?
Peter: If I believe that someone doesn’t like me, I will not be vulnerable with them. I will not take risks with them. I will not let them know what I’m really thinking. I will protect myself from being hurt. I will align myself with people who I think do like me because that will be safer.
If I really go down to a deep, dark part of me that I don’t really want to look at, I might do things to get other people around him to like me so that I feel safer and that they align with me instead of him, which could end up doing a lot of destruction to him, and to the environment, and to me, and to everybody.
Byron Katie: To us, because people really see through that. It’s our own delusion where we’re living in. Also, we begin to see, “I believe he doesn’t care about me.” I begin to seek his love, approval, and appreciation. I become this identity that is not I.
Byron Katie: If he doesn’t buy that, then I have to maybe ramp it up or just not say the kindest things about him after that, or at least think unkind thoughts about it. I don’t know him, don’t know me. Anytime I reflect on it, if he says, “I really like you, I really like you,” I’m not going to believe it because I’m believing my thoughts. I’m not necessarily going to believe that. One reason for that is he is liking an identity that I am portraying, not I. Not I.
Peter: Which makes you even more insecure about you, about who you are, because when you’re this identity that you’re creating in order to get him to like you and it works, then you begin to trust your identity of who you actually are, whoever that is, even less. We’ve talked about the first three questions, which are: Is it true; Are you sure that it’s true; How do you react when you believe this thought? What’s the fourth question?
Byron Katie: Who would you be without the thought? In that situation where you’re believing he doesn’t care about you, who would you be without the thought? Then that really requires stillness just to be there and witness as though you did not believe that, and just witness you, witness that person, witness the situation. It’s so profound, the person.
The work is a practice. It’s a practice that I invite people to every morning, or when they can, as often as possible. It will shift your life so radically that it’s so simple and so powerful. Anyone with an open mind can do it. Just that space of, “Who would I be without this story,” just in that moment.
Peter: A month ago if I were to ask that question, the way I would answer it would be, “Who would I be without this thought,” means, “Who would I be with the thought that he likes me?” A more profound answer is, “Who would I be without that thought at all?” Meaning, “Doesn’t matter whether he likes me or not.” That worrying at all about whether somebody likes me in and of itself is not a useful thought.
Byron Katie: Just notice purely who would you be without the thought, without replacing the thought with anything?
Peter: Right. Here’s some questions that I have as I think about this. One is I could go through that process and say, “Okay, he doesn’t care about me. Is it true?” No, it’s probably not true. Or maybe I think at first it’s true and then I say, “Is it really true?” I think it’s probably not true. Here’s what would happen if I act based on that thought.
Byron Katie: Or it’s like, “How do I react when I believe that?”
Peter: “How do I react?”
Byron Katie: We’re really witnessing that moment in time and just witnessing it. It’s showing us who we are without the thought. We don’t have to answer the question. It’s already there if we just get still and witness.
Peter: Witness how we are reacting to that thought.
Byron Katie: Yes. How we reacted in that specific situation when we were believing it and get in touch with those emotions. They’re huge.
Peter: One of the things you said is, “I’ve never seen a work or money problem that doesn’t turn out to be a thinking problem.” I would agree with you. There’s the emotional side of it, too, which is that I could say and I could think that through and realize that, “No, I have no evidence for the fact that it’s true that he doesn’t like me.” Yet, I could still feel slighted. I could still feel insecure about it.
Byron Katie: In that situation, we had all the proof. When we’re meditating on it now, we can see we’re visualizing the situation just the way it was and letting it, again, show us the answers.
Peter: Can we resolve these issues, the feelings of fear, or guilt, or insecurity at the level of thinking? Do we have to involve the emotions in a certain way? Or you’re saying meditation itself involves the emotions.
Byron Katie: I can tell you I do because emotions, they’re like that. That’s what alerts me to I’m out of my integrity. How do I react? What happens when I believe the thought? The first place I go is the emotional. It helps people. Some people like to see how does it feel when I believe that thought and how do I react? Because how do I react? It’s emotional first.
Peter: Can we change our thoughts like that? Can we say, “Okay, I don’t have any evidence for the thought, so I’m going to stop thinking it”? Can we do that with our minds?
Byron Katie: Well, I was going to say I haven’t tried that, but for me, it wouldn’t work. We believe our thoughts or we question them. There is no other choice. The life of the believer is hard. It is difficult. It’s a life of confusion and heartbreak and regret.
Peter: Right. We’re not saying, “I’m going to change the thought,” we’re just saying we’re asking ourselves some questions that could lead us to recognize that those thoughts are not only not true, but not helpful.
Byron Katie: Yeah. This is the opposite of manipulating our thoughts. We’re just testing.
Peter: Oh, that’s profound. In reality, when we’re living this belief that we’ve had our story that we’ve had forever, that’s actually manipulating our thoughts.
Byron Katie: Well, we’re believing them, so we’re really not manipulating. In one way, we are. We’ve gone from the innocent to the confused, but yeah. If I’m believing something, I’m completely innocent. Because it’s just like if my mother said, “Byron Katie,” or if my mother said, “This is a tree,” and I’m just a little child and I don’t even know what she’s talking about, I haven’t learned to speak or really think like that. She says, “It’s a tree.” She continues. Then maybe one of my siblings says, “Oh, look at the tree.” Maybe my father says, “Look at the tree.”
In a moment, the moment I see the tree, I have believed it’s a tree. We have to believe it before we can even see it. We have really created the whole world, our world, our individual world. Then who was I, who am I just prior to believing it’s a tree? I was okay. It was no catastrophe and then I believed. I believed it’s a tree. I literally believed a tree, and that’s pretty powerful, and that’s what we’re dealing with. The mind is the creator of all. It’s the creator of everything. It’s only right that we would get to know it a little better and question that identity, which is to say, to question what created and what is holding that identity in place.
Peter: To see things for what they really are as opposed to the social, cultural, linguistic context that we put them in.
Byron Katie: Yes.
Peter: Right. Wow.
Byron Katie: Yeah.
Peter: I have a thought, which is that I did a worksheet, a short version of a worksheet that I filled out the questions to. I thought maybe we could run through it-
Byron Katie: Good.
Peter: As an example for people.
Byron Katie: Good, and for your listeners that aren’t aware. What is a worksheet? If you go to thework.com to how to do the work, then it’s free. You just push. You don’t have to sign up for anything. You just push print and it’s yours. That’s where we’re looking at, about to look at.
Peter: It’s a great process. The worksheet, in the first sentence, and I’m going to use a different name here just so that I don’t implicate anybody, in the first question is, “In this situation, who angers, confuses, saddens, or disappoints you and why?” I wrote … Is this how you want me to go through it? I’ll just run through.
Byron Katie: Yes. The worksheet says, “Identify a situation and time that was upsetting for you.”
Peter: I said, “I’m disappointed with Ralph, who cancels our meetings.”
Byron Katie: Okay. What is the situation? On the phone?
Peter: The situation is I’m on the phone and I have coaching calls with him. Ralph is a senior person in an organization. The situation that I’m helping him with is a challenging situation. It’s hard for him. It’s hard for the company. I believe that I could be helpful. He says that I could be helpful. He’s so overwhelmed with what’s going on that he ends up having to cancel for good reasons, in a sense. He’s doing important work. I don’t think he’s avoiding me. I know he’s not avoiding me because we’re texting and we’re emailing, but things come up that capture his time.
The thought that goes through my head is, “If only I could get some of his time, we could get ahead of this,” but I have no leverage. If I can’t get his time at all, then I’m feeling helpless and I can’t help him. I’m disappointed with that.
Byron Katie: Okay. The situation is you’re on the phone with him and he has canceled.
Byron Katie: You hang up the phone. Okay. Read statement number one again.
Peter: “I am disappointed with Ralph because he cancels our meetings.”
Byron Katie: He cancels your meetings.
Peter: Before that happened. We have a meeting scheduled and he cancels the meeting before it happens.
Byron Katie: Okay, so he cancels the meeting.
Byron Katie: Can you absolutely know that it’s true that he cancels the meetings? Because you had an “S” on that. It was more than one meeting.
Byron Katie: You’re on the phone. He cancels it. You hang up. He cancels the meetings.
Byron Katie: Is it true? Sir, it’s either yes or no. It’s one syllable whatever it is. This is where meditation comes in because the ego is going to want to justify, defend its position, and hold that identity. It takes stillness.
Peter: This is great. The answer is no. It’s not true. What is true is that he cancels some of our meetings, but he does not cancel all of our meetings.
Byron Katie: It’s not true he cancels the meetings.
Peter: I guess it depends on what we mean by “the” or “meetings.”
Byron Katie: You described what you meant by it.
Peter: Yeah. I did globalize it. I was thinking it is true that he has canceled some meetings, but it is not at all true that he cancels all of our meetings.
Byron Katie: Okay, so he cancels the meetings. The more worksheets you do, the clearer you get in the way you write them.
Peter: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Byron Katie: It’s a little clumsy at first. It’s very obvious to any of us listening to this, but we’re going to stick with it. He cancels the meetings. Now, the third question, there are only four, notice as you meditate on that moment in time hanging up the phone, he canceled the meeting, how do you react? What happens when you believe the thought, “He cancels the meetings?”
Peter: I think, in honesty, there’s a number of things that happened.
Byron Katie: Are you seeing it visually?
Byron Katie: You’re there?
Byron Katie: At the phone. Okay. You’re seeing images of past and future.
Byron Katie: Okay. You’re feeling emotions.
Peter: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Some of the emotions that I’m feeling are two simultaneous things. One about him and one about me. The one about me that I’ll own first is I feel a sense of, “I can help him. Doesn’t he know how good I am and how helpful I can be? I’m going to help him out of this.”
Byron Katie: You see you and him and how helpful you can be. You’re watching that image. Then you feel the emotions. Okay, so now images of past future. What are the images of past you’re thinking and believing when you’ve hung up the phone and you’re thinking the thought?
Peter: Well, let me think about this. The images of past. It might be that other people who have not had time to show up to our meetings have struggled to succeed in the situations that they’re in. That it’s been a sign to me that if they don’t have time to stop and think about the situation that they’re facing, that they won’t be able to get out of the overwhelm that they’re in that’s causing the situation that they’re facing.
Byron Katie: Yeah. You’re seeing those situations where if they had worked with you, it could have been prevented.
Byron Katie: You’re witnessing that in your mind’s eye out of experience.
Byron Katie: You’re witnessing that past. You’re witnessing that future. Now get in touch with your emotions. You’ve hung up the phone. You’re seeing those images of past future. You’re putting those thoughts onto it.
Peter: I feel fear. I feel fear for him. I feel fear for me. I feel fear for our work together. That’s the predominant emotion.
Byron Katie: Yeah. Then the mind goes into, “I’m going to lose him as a client. We could have done so well if he had not,” then the emotions that go with that. Okay? Now, you just hung up the phone. Close your eyes and where are you physically? You hang up the phone. Who would you be without the thought, “He cancels”?
Peter: I think I would be without that thought
Byron Katie: Okay, you don’t have to think.
Peter: You’re right.
Byron Katie: You just witness. Where is the phone that you just hung up?
Peter: It’s right here on the desk.
Byron Katie: Okay. You’re at your desk. Okay, close your eyes and look around. Are you okay?
Byron Katie: Other than what you’re thinking and believing, is everything fine?
Peter: Everything’s fine.
Byron Katie: Everything. Okay. He cancels the meetings. Turn it around. What is the opposite? He doesn’t.
Peter: He doesn’t cancel the meetings.
Byron Katie: Okay, so now you begin to get in touch with reality where there are times he has made the meeting.
Byron Katie: Then you can just settle into that because you’re getting in touch with the truth, where the ego would have it always and forever. Even though you know better, that’s the experience: one of loss. He doesn’t cancel the meetings, and you’re getting in touch with those, and it will show you so much. It will show you so much. Clearer communication with a client, for one thing.
Byron Katie: Already we’ve learned to know the next time he, or anyone, cancels a meeting like that, you can say, “I understand and that’s fine for now, and it’s my experience that as your consultant it really puts me at a” … You know where I’m going with this, right?
Peter: Yeah. Yeah.
Byron Katie: “It puts me at a disadvantage. It puts you at a disadvantage.” Then you can give an example of where that has really cost someone in business a big deal. You would only say these things if it were appropriate to the case.
Peter: Right. Actually, I did this worksheet to give you an example of how it played out, which is that I did ask the questions. You actually helped me see something I wasn’t seeing about meetings versus just this meeting, but I did. I actually thought about it enough, or felt it enough, or meditated on it enough that it became very clear to me where my commitment was. That, yes, I had fears and I don’t like to lose clients, but ultimately, I really want him to succeed.
Byron Katie: That’s the deal. That’s the deal.
Peter: He’s having trouble keeping these phone meetings. What I ended up doing as a result of that process is texting him and saying, “Let’s have our next meeting in person and let’s make it an hour. When can I come to see you?” He gave me a date and a time.
Byron Katie: That’s so good.
Peter: That’s the meeting that we’re having right after this call.
Byron Katie: That is so good.
Peter: It allowed me not to make a big deal about it for myself and not to go on a whole thing about clients who don’t listen. It’s none of that.
Byron Katie: Otherwise, we can just fall down the rabbit hole and give up on that client because we’re believing our thoughts when that is a client worth saving, worth giving everything you’ve got to. In that, it gives you a life worth living as well, a really high production. Let’s look at statement two.
Peter: Statement two was, “In this situation”-
Byron Katie: There’s more, though. He cancels the meetings. Let’s put it back to you and just feel that. “He cancels the meetings with me.” Turn it around. “I cancel”-
Peter: “Our meetings.”
Byron Katie: Yeah. “I cancel our meetings.” Where do you cancel meetings? Maybe with your children, with your family somewhere, with your toothbrush in the morning. Where is it that you cancel meetings?
Peter: That’s a great turnaround and it’s not just canceling meetings as I go down the list of the things. One of the things I say is, “He should show up on time. He should.” To be honest, and I say this with some reticence having written a book about managing time, that I’m often late. I’m often late to things.
Byron Katie: No matter how many books we write, we’re all still growing. You know? We’re all still growing.
Peter: I was reading this and I was thinking, “I make decisions all the time about this is more important than that,” even if I have a commitment that I break very politely and clearly, and I communicate about it and everything, but I don’t always show up when and where I’m supposed to show up. I tell people ahead of time, but he tells me ahead of time, too. We make these choices and priorities. I absolutely do that.
Byron Katie: Now the phone call is becoming he called to cancel the meeting and your production, it can just go to the sky from what you’re learning about his cancellation. There’s no meeting. There’s no telephone call. Everything is here to show us, to teach us, to enlighten us.
Peter: Not only is this helping me in terms of how I show up for him in a way where I’m not overreacting to something that’s not actually happening, but I could also look at something for myself and say, “By definition, if I have an emotion about something that somebody else is doing, that it’s a mirror about something that I have an opportunity with myself.”
Byron Katie: Yeah.
Peter: That has absolutely been true in my life.
Byron Katie: When we get still in this process, we’re meditating on this specifically, this work, I refer to it as checkmate. This inquiry, these four questions, it really enlightens us and takes the fear out of life. Oh my goodness, we’re not tired when we go to sleep at night. We’re not exhausted. We’re just really sleepy. It’s an authentic life.
Peter: This is actually one of the insights that I had in our work together, which is that the questions don’t solve every problem in the way that I want them to solve every problem. It doesn’t create the precise outcomes that I’m always looking for creating in my version of the world in which I can control every outcome. It reduces a tremendous amount of suffering because the suffering is in the disconnect between reality and what I would like reality to be. That when we’re able to reduce the dissonance between what I would like reality to be and what reality is, in that moment, we also reduce suffering.
Byron Katie: We absolutely do and that’s where we begin to really begin to trust that it is a friendly universe. That it’s always giving. It’s never taking away.
Peter: What if I’m constantly not getting the outcomes that I want? How do I still see the universe as a friendly universe?
Byron Katie: Well, I would simply sit down and do the work. Just question the thoughts that I’m thinking that would lead me believe that. Just situation by situation. Again, it’s a practice. It’s a meditative practice. It’s not for everyone, but the benefits are immeasurable.
Peter: In effect, the benefits of the work or the outcome of the work is that we begin to see things as they are, as opposed to how they should be. One of the things that you always say is, “What makes you think they should be that? If that’s not what they are, then they shouldn’t be that.”
Byron Katie: There’s something way off here and it’s always me if I’m not in alignment with reality. If I don’t love it, then I’m going to suffer. It’s like a contest. I am going to run this world, and it’s going to be the way I want, or I’m going to tantrum to my deathbed. Even sadness is a tantrum. It’s a minor tantrum, but it’s still the war with reality.
Peter: Won’t we always feel sadness?
Byron Katie: It’s a heartfelt emotion and, still, it’s the war with reality. Not right or wrong. I’m not saying it’s wrong. It’s necessary until it’s not.
Peter: Is there a point at which sadness is not anymore necessary?
Byron Katie: Yes. Sadness gets in my way. It’s just all about me and how I feel. It’s like, let’s say, when my mother died, let’s say I’m sad. “She won’t be here for me. Oh, I won’t have her in my life. Oh, I loved her so much. Oh, I, I, I, I, I.” It does confusion. If I am out of self and if I turn all those things around, then if I look at my children … I have children and grandchildren. Three children, five grandchildren. They don’t have to live for me. They don’t have to be careful. I don’t because it’s just all about me.
One of my grandsons, he’s 22 now, but when he was a little guy, he was two or three years old and he fell down. His little knee was bleeding. He looked up at me. I was there in his immediate vicinity. He looked at me and I looked at him. I wasn’t sad. I didn’t react, anything, because I didn’t know if it hurt him. Prior to inquiry, I would think, “Oh my gosh, there’s blood. Oh my goodness, honey, are you hurt? Let’s do this and that.” I looked at him because he was the expert on his whole body. He’s the whole expert on him even at that age. I looked at him, and he looked at me, and I looked at him, and he looked at me, and he just got up and started playing again. I trust that.
Peter: Now if he were hurt, if it did hurt him, would that make you sad?
Byron Katie: Then I take care of it and he learns how to do it, but without the fear. If he started crying, I’d say, “Oh, honey, does it hurt? Let’s go take care of it.” Do all of the things that any kind human being would be just because we … I think I’ve said everything there. I trust him to know.
Peter: You don’t necessarily carry it for the next 10 days going, “Oh, isn’t that so terrible? He hurt his knee. No one was watching him.” This and that and this and that.
Byron Katie: Just immediately I’m teaching him there’s something wrong with falling, there’s something wrong with blood, there’s something wrong with a scraped knee, and there’s something wrong with him. Then they don’t know what that is. After being old enough to be a grandparent, so stuck in our ways of believing, that without inquiry we just leave it for them to believe or not believe. I don’t have to teach them fear. They’ll get that from their peers and other people.
Oh my goodness, I have an amazing relationship with my children and grandchildren. They’re always the wiser. They’re wiser than I am because I’m always learning from them. They’re growing me. They say I’m growing them, but they’re grateful anyway.
Peter: It’s very, very powerful work. Katie, thank you for being on this podcast. Thank you for the work that you’re doing. I want you to tell people where they could follow up and find out more information. Because this is truly a situation where talking about it is not nearly as interesting or useful as actually experiencing it. That’s why I wanted to use me as an example here. Where could they find, again, the worksheets or where could they find out more information?
Byron Katie: They can go to Instagram, or byronkatie.com, or Facebook. They can find me just about anywhere in social media.
Peter: Okay, and we’ll put some of those links into the show notes for people as well.
Byron Katie: Sounds great.
Peter: Katie, thank you so much. Thank you for doing the work. Thank you for sharing the work. Thank you for being on the Bregman Leadership Podcast.
Byron Katie: You’re welcome, Peter. I hope it’s valuable in some way.
Peter: If you enjoyed this episode of the Bregman Leadership Podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. For more information about the Bregman Leadership Intensive, as well as access to my articles, videos, and podcasts, visit peterbregman.com. Thank you to Clare Marshall for producing this episode and to Brian Wood who created our music. Thanks for listening and stay tuned for the next great conversation.
Peter Bregman is CEO of Bregman Partners, a company that strengthens leadership in people and in organizations through programs (including the Bregman Leadership Intensive), coaching, and as a consultant to CEOs and their leadership teams. Best-selling author of 18 Minutes, his most recent book is Four Seconds. To receive an email when he posts, click here.