Q: If I answer Question 4, "Who would I be without that thought?" it's just speculation. In reality, I'd be an idiot without my thoughts, ignoring the facts and with no protection. Can't I just skip to the turnarounds?
A: Yes it's speculative; question 4 of The Work of Byron Katie is meant to open the mind to possibilities other than the one we've been believing. It's not about ignoring facts, or even about changing from one thought to another.
In my experience, without the "education" of my answers to the four questions, the turnarounds can leave me feeling incomplete. It's too easy for me to go to default, making my turnarounds into affirmations (which tend not to work for me) or sticks with which to beat myself (which, though habitual, really really really don't work for me).
I'm not the most "positive" person on earth, as my readers and friends may have noticed. I doubt, I distrust, I fear something bad will happen if I'm not vigilant. So for me, question 4 is a stretch, and it's meant to be. I, too, want to say, "I'd be a fool, I'd be a patsy, I'd be a doormat."
When the mind comes up with those quick answers, I have learned to be patient, to say, "That could be; and is there anything else? What if this stressful thought did not run my life? How would I show up, facts in hand, without living out of this belief and all the repercussions of doing so that I have seen in Question 3?"
That allows me to see myself in any situation as loving, present, self-posessed. And then I can at believe my "positive" turnarounds without myself to task over the "negative" ones.
Let's say I have done The Work on "He verbally abused me." Let's say my answer to questions 1 and 2 are "Yes, it is true. I can absolutely know that it's true." (I don't have to get cosmic and say, "Oh, he called me names and said things that I experienced as shaming and blaming, but that was only my interpretation." If I'm doing The Work on this when the issue is still "hot," I'm not in that space; I would never tell anyone else that they had brought their abuse on themselves.)
So, briefly, when I live out of the belief (which is different, for me, than believing it: you can acknowledge that something happened and not base your every waking moment on it), I am seeing just one part of our relationship. I take the moments where he said and did this, this and this and that becomes the entire relationship, in my mind. I hate him, I see him as sadistic, I blame him for my unhappiness, I worry that he's right; my self-esteem plummets. I overeat to ease the pain. I complain about him to others. I fight back with my own sharp tongue, an eye for an eye. I manipulate him with my body. I project a loveless future for myself. I want him to suffer. I want him to understand that he damaged me. I am damaged goods.
Who would I be without this thought? (Here's where the voice kicks in that says I'd be Cleopatra the Queen of Denial, an idiot, a battered woman who is victimized by the big bad man, etc.) I would see that ending the relationship equals sanity and I need not do it with drama and recrimination. I would see him as doing the best he can when he is obviously in pain, and this does not mean I stay with him. I would notice that I still care for him and am still attracted to him, and this does not mean that I stay with him. I notice that I care about myself enough to stop hurting myself in his name. I don't make all men out to be abusers. I cherish the wonderful connection we had and don't diminish that.
Now I can experience my turnarounds (He did not verbally abuse me. I verbally abused myself. I verbally abused him. He verbally nurtured me) with clarity. They are all true to varying degrees, and I was not wrong to believe my original statement; I'm not insane.
©2010 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved. The Work of Byron Katie, ©Byron Katie International, used with permission.