The Work is a simple yet powerful process through which we can identify, question, and resolve stressful thoughts that are the cause of our suffering. In its basic form, The Work consists of four questions and turnarounds and requires nothing more than a pencil, paper, and an open mind.
1. The first step in the Work is to fill out a Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet on a specific stressful situation. Try to use simple and short sentences as they will be easier to work with. Allow yourself to be completely honest, let your inner child whine and cry and even scream on that paper. And remember to always stay anchored in the same situation, time and place.
2. When you have filled out the worksheet, apply these four questions to each statement you wrote:
- Is that true? (Yes or no. If no, go to question 3.)
- Can you absolutely know this to be true? (Yes or no.)
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without that thought?
The Work is a meditation. You contemplate these questions one at a time and let the mind show you the deeper answers. The purpose of this first part is to finally test the veracity of our thoughts that we have perhaps believed for years. This section also shows us directly the consequences of believing our thoughts, and finally, we discover that our suffering is not caused by other people or outside circumstances, but by our thoughts – that is, by our strong attachment to them.
3. Turn the thought around
For example, your original thought is: He should be with me.
The turnarounds are:
To the opposite: He should not be with me.
To the other: I should be with him.
To myself: I should be with myself.
Sometimes there will be more than three turnarounds and sometimes only one.
Then you find at least three specific, genuine examples how each turnaround is true or even truer than the original statement for you in the situation.
The last statement from the worksheet is not questioned through the 4 questions. We just turn it around to: ‘I’m willing to …‘ and ‘I look forward to …‘
For example: I don’t ever want him to be so emotionally distant from me again.
I’m willing for him to get so emotionally distant from me.
I look forward to him being so emotionally distant from me.
This last statement is about opening bravely to all that life may bring, and actually seeing that whatever it brings, the worst that can happen is always and only my thoughts about it which I can question and set myself free.