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  • Writer's pictureMC Mendez

Understanding “The Work” of Katie Byron

When I did my first coaching course, we touched upon “The Work” by Katie Byron. At the time the “four simple questions” seemed easy enough but I couldn’t grasp their true potential and to be honest I didn’t really get it. So when I started my coaching practice I didn’t use her tool.

It’s only 6 months later, when chatting with a fellow student about Byron Katie (yes both ways of saying her name are possible and very in tune with her philosophy) that something started to shift. I had watched countless videos of hers and had marvelled at the dexterity with which she could question people and their thoughts but I was unable to replicate and therefore get the same results.

So I decided to go to her site and follow the instructions. At the time I was very upset with my boyfriend so content wasn’t a problem. I had heaps of things to complain about, so I “played the game of The Work”. I filled out the form. Then I put myself in that emotional place of being upset and I took each question at a time, pausing regularly, giving myself the time to feel as well as think.

By the fourth question, The Work was already working. I was starting to see things from another angle, from the heart, from the best part of my being. Instead of being on my boyfriend’s turf, I was returning to mine! Indeed there is a powerful element in Katie Byron’s findings: We spend far too much time in other people’s business. We spend so much time wanting others to be this or that way, when the only thing we have power over to change is ourselves.

It’s a bit cliché, but there is a big difference between saying it and feeling it. I was astounded! I did get it this time and by the time I had finished The Work, with reversing the sentences, I was laughing my head off. The despot in me had given way to a much nicer, loving, and present version of myself. So, the strength of The Work does reside in those 4 powerful questions, but they bare no weight unless we are emotionally connected to our content. Authenticity is part of the process. It brings us back to the core of our being. To who we truly are without those thoughts, without our story and construct.

I went on to read some of her books, which are filled with examples of her sessions. It’s interesting to see how her method can help with every day problems, but also with more sensitive and traumatic events. I ended up going to see her live at the Grand Rex in Paris, and her presence fascinated me. She could just be, in the moment at every moment, aware that anything could be and that everything had already been. Her silences were heavy and light at the same time. In the end, I realised that improving my practice of The Work wasn’t about mastering the 4 questions. It was more about being truly present to myself and to others and being in the moment as much as possible.

Before Creating “The Work” Katie Byron had been fighting with depression, she emerged from it thanks to an epiphany. She suddenly became aware that if she was detached from her thoughts and observant and inquisitive of them, then she could be free, in the moment, and consequently joyous and at peace with what is. Pain is furtive. It doesn’t remain. We are the ones keeping it alive. Our thoughts feed our pain, yet we can decide to do otherwise.

If you’re interested to find out more about Byron Katie and The Work, visit her website and try it out!

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