This month our Austin-based self improvement expert Mary Schneider explores how we can view situations we encounter to not find fault in others and instead examination our own role the in outcome.
Last year I had the great good fortune to spend a week and a half with one of the greatest teachers I have ever had the pleasure to meet: Byron Katie. She is a world-renowned enlightened being who developed a revolutionary methodology for self-actualization called “The Work.” The hallmark of this work is centered on the idea that everything that happens to us is sourced from our own internal world and promulgated by our thoughts.
This is not a new concept. What is new is that Byron Katie’s work offers a very simple, practical and effective way to access the origin of our thoughts and move beyond them to create a sense of peace. Since the time I attended her workshop, I have been heavily engaged in the process of her work; trying to find a way to incorporate its profound simplicity into my own work and it has literally taken me a year and half to figure out how to do just that.
To implement it, I began asking my clients very pointed questions about how what is happening in their world mirrors back to them how they treat themselves. For example, if someone continually finds themselves being attracted to and involved in romantic relationships with people who never want to make a commitment to them, I have ask them to contemplate where it is in their lives that they have not been committed to themselves. Where is it that they have not listened to the still, quiet voice within and instead, disregarded it and ended up getting hurt by someone they thought loved them… when that was not actually the case? All of us have our own versions of this story – the names and places have been changed to protect the guilty, but it is still the same.
How many of us actually knew at some point that a relationship we were involved in might be capable of inflicting some type of hurt upon us? And, then we ignored that thought? Or, how many of us had a very specific idea of how we wanted to be treated in a relationship when it began and were not treated the way we wanted to be and yet we did not do anything about it? In the end, when we look carefully at this situation we were accusing the other person of not being capable of being committed to us, when, in fact, we were not being committed to ourselves in the first place. Again, who, in fact, really hurt us? Did the other person? Or, did we hurt ourselves and blame the other? Taking responsibility for our own actions and not blaming those of another helps this process of realization.
What would have happened if we had actually listened to ourselves in the first place and then gracefully and lovingly bowed out of that relationship? Nothing. No one would have gotten hurt and we could have been able to move on to the next thing in our lives with very little accumulated baggage. In fact, these decisions make us much stronger because we are taking a stand for what it is that we actually want. This is the true essence of empowerment. This is where we begin to build our own foundation that allows us to know that we can – and do – trust ourselves.
Another fairly common and obvious illustration is abuse. I frequently work with individuals who are victims of many kinds of abuse: from mental, emotional and verbal to actual physical abuse. Using Byron Katie’s methodology begs the question: Where is it that you are abusing yourself? Again, where is it that you are not committed to yourself? To stay in an abusive relationship, you have to ignore an immense amount of what is fairly obvious to the outsider as blatantly abusive behavior. If someone slams a door in your face, where is it that metaphorically you are slamming doors in your face? It may not be immediately obvious because when we are “in our own stuff” it is difficult for us to see the obvious at times.
But ask yourself, where has this relationship kept me from taking advantage of obvious opportunities for growth and advancement in all areas of my life? Did you ignore a good offer to transfer to another market with higher pay to stay in the relationship? Did other kinder and gentler people ask you out on a date and you declined to stay in this relationship?
Insidiously, we allow ourselves to make numerous decisions about our lives that lead us further and further from ourselves and what we actually want. We think that this makes the other person love us because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt what they’re thinking and that they love us. In actuality, we have no idea about what they are thinking and what they are thinking really isn’t any of our business. The only thing that we need to worry about is ourselves and how we are taking care of ourselves.
The ultimate way to take care of ourselves is to take responsibility for all of our actions – good, bad and indifferent. When we do this and recognize that the world is only a mirror and will show us exactly what we need in order to grow and change and attain what we want, we become very aware of how benevolent indeed is the world actually is.
For more information on Mary Schneider at The Holographic Repatterning Institute at Austin, visit Repatternit.com.