by Carol L. Skolnick
One of the subquestions of The Work of Byron Katie is, "What pictures,
if any, come to mind when you think that thought?" Sometimes when I ask
that question, I get a funny reaction from my clients. "Pictures?!?!!"
Actually it's a really good question. We all know about running "tapes"
in our minds (although soon that term is going to be as extinct as the
dinosaur. There are audiophiles alive today who have never even laid
eyes on a cassette tape or a reel-to-reel.) Many of us also run films (or
insert your favorite and more up-to-date visual media here).
Think about it. Your partner says or does something that irks you. If
you don't inquire into your thoughts about what he or she said or did,
doesn't your mind revisit past irksome episodes? That's how we come to
form core beliefs like "She never misses an opportunity to criticize me"
or "Men always leave the seat up."
What about self-judgments? You hear the internal tape-loop of thoughts
like "I'm not good enough." When that happens, do you flash on specific
incidents of feeling that way? Last one picked for the school
volleyball team? Stammering repeatedly during your big presentation? Beloved
leaves you for someone else?
Sitting with the images of your past that come to mind when you attach
to a belief is a most effective way to deepen Transformational Inquiry.
Let the movie of your life be your guide to other subquestions, such as
"How have you lived your life because you've believed that thought?"
"Is this where addictions kick in and you reach for food, alcohol, credit
cards, the TV remote?" "Where does your mind travel when you think that
thought?" "Does this thought bring peace or stress into your life?"
"Work of the eyes is done,
now go and do heart work on
all the images imprisoned within you."
—Rainer Maria Rilke
Deepening Transformational Inquiry: The Horror Show of the Future
Let's look at a stressful thought about someone in your life who upsets
you. "Always" and "never" thoughts are great ones for this exercise.
If you have children, you might relate to this one: "My son/daughter
If you've ever had this thought about your child, probably you can
concoct an image very quickly of your offspring preoccupied with a game or
with internet chat when you've told them three times to come to the
dinner table or to go to bed.
Now put this thought into the future; what pictures do you see when you
think of your child years from now and you hold the belief "He/she
doesn't listen"? What do you fear will happen to your child?
Child rolling eyes as you lecture them about how they need to pay
High school dropout?
Unresponsive spouse whose wife/husband/partner leaves him/her in short
What do you assume will happen to you if you didn't believe this
thought? Watch the images:
Screaming yourself hoarse for years until the kid grows up and leaves
Called into school for conferences with disapproving teachers.
Old and alone and begging your child for assistance...and your pleas
fall on deaf ears?
The "coulda/shoulda/woulda" scenarios of what an ineffective parent
you've been all these years and how you might have done it differently?
Are you enjoying these movies?
If not, what do you get for holding this belief? Can you see a reason
to drop it?
Turn the thought around: "My son/daughter always listens."
In what ways is that turnaround as true or truer? What pictures come to
mind when you see, perhaps for the first time, the listening, attentive
child in your life?
©2006 Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.