The Work is a simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It’s a way to understand what’s hurting you, and to address the cause of your problems with clarity. In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and the turnarounds.
Everything you need to do The Work is available for free on this website.
“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn't believe them, I didn't suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”
People who do The Work as an ongoing practice commonly report:
For thousands of years we’ve been told not to judge—but let’s face it, we do it all the time. We all have judgments running in our heads. Through The Work we finally have permission to let those judgments speak out, or even scream out, on paper. We may find that even the most unpleasant thoughts can be met with unconditional love.
Each statement from the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is then investigated using the four questions.
Finally, turn around the concept you just questioned. This is an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you originally believed.
For example, your first statement might be “Paul doesn't listen to me.” Find someone in your life about whom you have had that thought. Then take that statement to inquiry using the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.
Watch the videos below to hear Katie explain in detail how to fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.
Investigate each of your statements from the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet using the four questions. The Work is meditation. It’s about opening to your heart, not about trying to change your thoughts. Ask the questions, then go inside and wait for the deeper answers to surface.
Download the Facilitation Guide for helpful sub-questions.
The original statement, Paul doesn’t listen to me, when turned around, becomes “I don’t listen to myself.” Is that turnaround as true or truer? Now identify examples of how you don’t listen to yourself in that very same situation with Paul. Find at least three specific, genuine examples of how this turnaround is true. For me, one example is that in that situation I was out of control emotionally, and my heart was racing.
Another turnaround is “I don’t listen to Paul.” Find at least three examples of how you were not listening to Paul, from his perspective, in that situation. Are you listening to Paul when you’re thinking about him not listening to you?
A third turnaround is “Paul does listen to me.” For example, he put out the cigarette he was smoking. He might light another one in five minutes, but in that situation, even as he was telling me that he didn’t care about his health, he was apparently listening to me. For this and for each turnaround you discover, always find at least three specific, genuine examples of how the turnaround is true for you in this situation.
After you have turned around statements 1 through 5 from the Worksheet (and found at least three examples for each turnaround), turn statement 6 around using “I am willing to …” and “I look forward to …”
For example, "I don't ever want to experience an argument with Paul" turns around to "I am willing to experience an argument with Paul" and "I look forward to experiencing an argument with Paul." Why would you look forward to it?
Why would you look forward to it?
The turnaround to statement 6 is about fully embracing all of life without fear, and being open to reality. If you experience an argument with Paul again, good. If it hurts, write another Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and investigate the thoughts. Uncomfortable feelings are clear reminders that we've attached to something that may not be true for us. They are gifts that let us know it's time to identify the stressful thoughts and do The Work.
Until you can see the enemy as a friend, your Work is not done. This doesn't mean that you have to invite your enemy to dinner. Friendship is an internal experience. You may never see the person again, you may even divorce him or her, but as you think about the person, are you feeling stress or peace?
In my experience, it takes only one person to have a successful relationship, and that's me. I like to say that I have the perfect marriage, and I can never know what kind of marriage my husband has.