November 30, 2009

"So Don't Do That!"

There's an old Henny Youngman joke that I love: "I said to my doctor, it hurts when I do that [he lifts his arm]; he told me 'So don't do that!'"

As a facilitator, my "Don't do that!" for people who do self-inquiry is, "Don't use The Work as a way to beat yourself or others."

Here's an example; a quote from Byron Katie that gets misinterpreted, in my not-so-humble opinion:

"If I see an enemy, I need to take another look because that is my friend, not my enemy. Enemies enlighten me to myself; that makes them friends."

Some use this teaching as a way to make themselves wrong, bad and delusional if they aren't always open to or in agreement with another's criticism or if they can't shrug off slights or abuse with "it's all good." Please don't do that. Self-flagellation is not inquiry. Offering yourself up as a human sacrifice is not inquiry. Do your work, find ways that turnarounds can be as true or truer but not "instead of"—include everything. Finding your part in a situation is not making yourself wrong. It doesn't mean that you become a doormat. It means that you have ceased to be a victim of black-and-white thinking. And just because your enemies are your "friends" doesn't mean that you have to live with them, do business with them, never take legal action or stop locking your front door.

Others use this teaching as an excuse to behave badly. "It can never be my fault that you're upset. You're just angry because you didn't get what you want. I'm free, you're the one with the problem." Please don't do that either; it's using The Work as a shield and a weapon rather than a tool with which to discover your own truth. This is not inquiry, it's new age bull-dinky. Again, do your work, find your part, enlighten yourself. Fear of being wrong or of being blamed is natural...and it also comes from collusion. If they say you're wrong and bad, and it hurts, they're right...but only according to you.

So don't do that!

©2009 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.


Marianne said...

Another great post, Carol.

The fact that it hurt last week when someone called me "mean and hurtful" is collusion ~ that I secretly believe that I am "mean and hurtful" deep down inside too ~ wowie.

Bull~dinky? :)

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing your understanding of The Work. It's helpful. I love it.

Yvonne Spence said...

Hello Carol,
I think you provide such brilliant service with all your articles on how to get the best from The Work and how to avoid the pitfalls that could so easily lead to using it as a weapon against ourselves or others. I've loved all your recent articles.

To me, there is so much kindness in what you write. I love it all, and in this article I particularly love:

"Do your work, find ways that turnarounds can be as true or truer but not "instead of"—include everything. Finding your part in a situation is not making yourself wrong. "

Reading this, and so many of your articles, is like heaving a sigh of relief, as so often I see myself in what you write. Years ago, my daughter was born extremely premature. When she was seriously ill a nurse gently told me all the ways mothers of premature babies felt - everything she said I was feeling, and so I felt normal instead of some sort of insane monster. Seeing myself and my foibles mirrored here has the sense of relief, gives the same sort of encouragement to keep on going. I frequently pass on your ULR to friends who could also do with a dose of self-acceptance.

Thank you for all that you do.