Byron Katie does The Work with a French man who believes that his girlfriend is ignoring him. His concept is “I’m angry with Elise because she’s ignoring me.” He explains that she’s passionately interested in another man.
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Man: The situation is: we are in a dance hall in the countryside and a man comes along.
BK: What is she doing in that moment when you say she’s ignoring you?
Man: I’m sitting down. Two people come in and start talking to the man about dancing. Her eyes light up and she speaks passionately to that man. It’s as though there are no other people on earth.
BK: Close your eyes and see the scene. She’s ignoring you—Is it true?
BK: Look again. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? She is looking only at him. She is looking starry eyed. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
BK: What did you just understand?
Man: I felt included in the room with them.
BK: Does that feel right? In other words, what you just experienced; was it authentic?
BK: Close your eyes. In that situation in that moment in time, notice what it feels like and notice how you react when you think the thought she’s ignoring me?
Man: I feel abandoned, nervous, and angry.
BK: You see images of past and future before you can feel annoyed or angry. And I love that you all understand how the mind works; the cause of emotion. You see images of the future and past and you’re asleep to that. As you witness that dream it’s like watching a movie and that’s what brings anger. No matter how quickly your temper rises, past-future has to be in place. So close your eyes. You’re seeing her with her eyes all lit up talking to him. You think the thought “She’s ignoring me.” What images of past and future do you see in your mind’s eye while you’re sitting there? Do you see images of how she used to look at you that way? And then you see pictures in your mind’s eye of a future when she’ll never look at you that way again. Also, you look at him, and then you have an image of you in your mind’s eye. And your mind is comparing him with you. So now you’re sure she’ll never look at you that way again. She’ll always be thinking of him. This is what happened in that moment that you were witnessing her.
Man: Laughs [in recognition of his experience that Katie just described].
BK: So you witness this past and future; you don’t know it’s going on in the moment. If you continue this practice, as you sit in that movie, you can be awake to the cause of the anger and confusion you’re experiencing in the moment.
Now in your mind’s eye, look at her, look at them, and take that story off of then. Get intimate; watch. Get connected. Who would you be, without putting that onto those two people? Without comparing.
Man: I would be happy for her; that she’s able to talk about her passion.
BK: What we want is for everyone to be happy. Why does it have to be you that makes her happy? But no, you want only you to give her that. That is limited love; conditional love.
Man: I’m at peace. It doesn’t bother me. I can accept it.
Man: I’m ignoring her.
I’m ignoring her passion; her feelings.
I left without her.
BK: When I turn around “I’m ignoring her,” I witness in my mind’s eye, did I ignore her or punish her in any way in the situation? And later, did I hold a resentment; continue not to call, not to talk? Did I continue to punish her or ignore her in any way? If I have, and if it feels right, I contact her, admit it, and make it right where I can. I created it; I need to end my part. It’s like the breadcrumbs; you go back and pick them up, or that will be your past. Take care of it in the present time. It’s a practice.
Man: I’m ignoring myself.
I love her and this is not proof of my love.
I hurt myself all on my own.
BK: Yes, by comparing you with him in your mind’s eye.
With your eyes closed, look at him and look at you. The way you experienced that situation. Look at yourself in your mind’s eye, is that you? No one has ever seen themselves. Not one human being. You see what you imagine yourself to be. When you look at how you saw yourself that night, it was not your best image. You always lose when you compare. You’re always more or less. You believe that’s you so you’re identified as that image which is not you. You’re in the dream and it will affect your next relationships.
I love that you notice any time you feel upset, that you’re in the past and future. You’re not in reality. In reality there’s no anger, no jealousy, no more, no less. Just sanity.
When you compare, you lose. —Byron Katie
Katie’s new book, A Mind At Home With Itself.