Last week I was feeling like s***. I was “supposed” to be feeling great because we were finally out of a four-week lockdown and my life was “supposed” to be getting back on track, but when I dropped Ilay (4.5) off at daycare and came back home to start working and enjoying my restored freedom, something wasn’t feeling right.
I didn’t feel like doing anything. I wanted to sit there and do nothing. So I did. I told myself that I probably need time to breathe and relax and that tomorrow will be a better day.
Our Thoughts Control Us
But it wasn’t. I woke up in a lousy mood. When I washed my face, I couldn’t stand the sight of me in the mirror. I looked old. All my wrinkles were screaming at me. The dark circles under my eyes were telling me stories I didn’t want to hear. I managed to finish this task and dropped Ilay off. When I put Lia (9m) down for her nap, I started my computer to start working, but my head was all over the place. I was telling myself my work is meaningless and that no one cares. I didn’t see a reason actually to start doing anything; anyway, we’ll be back in lockdown or at least another quarantine, and I won’t be able to work, right? I survived quarantine pretty well with these six sanity saving tips, but still, that’s not what I want my life to look like.
Unless We Let Them Be…
I decided to practice what I always tell my clients: don’t be so fast shutting down your unpleasant emotions. Sit with them, understand them, let them be. Let them tell you what you need you to know. Our unpleasant feelings are messengers of our unmet needs. If we push them away, we’ll never know the story, and we won’t know what needs fixing.
So I sat with it for another day. I allowed myself all these thoughts and all these feelings. I permitted myself to do nothing, to eat as many carbs as I wanted to, and to do the bare minimum required for us all to survive. Suddenly there was a certain sense of relief. It’s okay. I’m okay.
When I woke up on Tuesday, everything was still looking and feeling quite about the same. I still looked like s***, my work still felt meaningless, and there was no point to it anyway because it’s out of my control. But the feelings around those thoughts were lighter. In the evening, my soul was lighter too, and I knew I was ready to flip things around. So I grabbed my journal, and I knew exactly what I’m going to write
There are many strategies we can use to challenge our thoughts and perceptions; I know, this is what I do for my living 🙂 And Byron Katie’s The Work is one of my favorites. So intuitive and straightforward, anyone can practice it. But the first thing we’d like to acknowledge is that our thoughts are not always true in real life (thoughts ≠ reality), and this is hard because we’re used to believing whatever it is that our brains tell us, even if these beliefs are core to our suffering.
This is where The Work comes so handy; with a set of four questions, we can investigate our thoughts and get to the heart of what leads to our suffering. But first – shameless authenticity, allowing every thought within us the place and space to be.
I opened a brand new page and started ranting. Shamelessly. I wrote that we’d be back in a general lockdown in no time, and if not, another quarantine is upon us within a week or two. I wrote that Covid is now responsible for my freedom and autonomy and that I have none. I wrote that my life is no longer within my control.
I wrote that I look like s***. I aged during this year more than I was supposed to. My skin is lifeless, and my hair is horrible (postpartum hair loss, anyone?) I gained weight and I look like someone else.
I wrote that my work is meaningless, that I’m not helping anyone out of their suffering, that I’m not helping anyone build beautiful relationships with their children.
It was a pretty long rant; I’m only giving you the highlights here for you to get the gist. Every thought is allowed. Then I looked at what I wrote and I chose the three leading statements that were the essence of what was blocking me.
We’d be back in lockdown in no time.
I look like s***.
I’m not helping anyone.
With these three statements, I started doing The Work.
The Work at the Service of Our Freedom
Byron Katie’s The Work is a set of four questions that are meant to release us from the burden of believing the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, our life, or the world, instead of accepting WHAT IS.
Is it True?
The first question is meant for us to begin challenging our perceptions. So used to believing ourselves, we’re most likely to answer with a yes.
Is it true that we’d be back in lockdown in no time? Yes.
Is it true that I look like s***? Yes.
Is it true that my work is meaningless? Yes.
Can I be 100% and Undoubtedly Sure that It’s True?
The second question is where we begin untangling the essence of our suffering. True and honest to ourselves, we’d have to admit that there’s no such thing as “100% and undoubtedly sure”.
Can I be 100% sure we’d be back in lockdown in no time? Honestly, no, I can’t be. I have no idea what the future holds.
Can I be 100% sure that I look like s***? I can’t be sure of that either. Jon tells me that I’m beautiful every day, and when I saw my dad last week, he said I look lovely. I have two mirrors at home; depending on the light, they show me different images. And hey, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, isn’t it?
Can I be 100% that my work is meaningless? Hell no. This answer screamed loud. My coaching sessions are going great, and clients are happy. Island of Peace, my membership group is perhaps slower than I’d like it to be, but we’re all super busy with life right now, and so are the members. If they’re saying that they’re happy and feeling helped and supported through their life’s struggles, who am I to question that?
Who Are You When You Believe this Thought?
The third question is meant for us to see, actually see how our thoughts affect our lives.
When I believe that we’d be back in lockdown in no time, I’m locking myself down. I’m shutting down. Believing that my freedom will be taken away from me, I do it first and imprison myself in this idea. I don’t do all these things that I’m afraid I won’t do back in quarantine. Believing this thought, I bring my fears to life, and I live them. Wow.
When I believe I look like s***, I spend half of the day in front of the mirror, frantically trying to change things I cannot change. I fear the judgments of others. I surround myself with this thought that leads me to nothing but suffering. Sounds sad.
When I believe my work is meaningless, I have no motivation to do anything. My heart shuts down, and I can no longer bring the world the gifts I have to give. Believing I’m not helping anyone, I become that person who’s not helping anyone.
Who are You Without this Thought?
The fourth question is where the real transformation, the healing, takes place. This is where we see and experience the difference a single thought can bring to our lives.
When I don’t believe we’d be back in lockdown, I’m a person who truly enjoys her freedom. I am autonomous, controlling my life and my thoughts. They do not control me.
When I don’t believe I look like s***, I’m free to hear and receive the compliments and take them to heart. I don’t spend hours trying to change something that I cannot change. I’m simply me. Upon my wrinkles and the whatever amount I’ve gained. I’m beautiful.
When I don’t believe that my work is meaningless, I bring meaning to my work. I affect people’s lives. I have the energy and the open heart I need to see them, hear them, and give them the tools that they need to build the relationships that they want. I empower, relieve, help, and support my clients on their journey to peace of mind.
Wow. Four questions can make a huge difference. And they do. Within twenty minutes of doing The Work, my present life experience was flipped upside down and shifted back to where I wanted it to be.
Viki is back, and it only took twenty minutes, vulnerability, and honesty.
Who am I?
I’m Viki, perfectly imperfect – just like you. I’m a mother of two, a wife, and a life and parenting coach. I specialize in helping mothers regain the control over their thoughts. Then, with a clear heart and mind, they learn how to communicate to their children, and foster connection and cooperation (instead of fights and power struggles).
You can contact me if you need support, and you can join my life and parenting support group on Facebook, where I offer tools and insights to help you live and parent from the heart.
Hope to meet you soon 🙂