Very little troubles me anymore. But when there are little things that bother me, I just use The Work, the Four Questions and Turnarounds, to quickly dispense with the troubling thought.
Like yesterday. I was hurrying to get to the hospital. My husband had surgery last week to remove a brain tumor, and I was being released yesterday to go to a rehab facility for a while. I was hurrying to bring him clothing so he could be transferred. It had been raining, and the hospital personnel had put out those black mats that you wipe your feet on when you come in the door. Somehow I tripped on one of those mats and fell headlong right there at the door to the hospital. Skinned both knees and was very sore. A friend commented to me, "How cruel for that to happen to a person like you who is so loving and caring and always trying to help others." I replied by saying, "No cruelty, it's just life."
So let's question the thought, "That shouldn't have happened it me." Is it true?
Obviously that thought's not true, because it did happen. To say that it shouldn't have happened is to argue with reality. And when we argue with reality, we cause ourselves pain.
Many people agonize over things that have happened to them, grieving over them and asking "Why me?" That's a useless question. This is a friendly universe. Everything that happens is supposed to happen. It can't happen any other way than the way it DOES happen.
So you can either believe two ways. You can believe the universe causes things to happen to us on purpose, or you can believe everything is totally random. It doesn't matter which one you believe. That's irrelevant. The reality is, it happens. And it's always for your good.
"How can you say falling down and skinning your knees is for good?" Well, let's go back to our Four Questions.
"This shouldn't have happened to me." Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it's true? To believe that this shouldn't have happened to me is to believe that somehow I am more important than other people or am in some way special enough that unpleasant things shouldn't happen to me. That's just not reality.
Now think of something unpleasant that has happened to you. Substitute that for what happened to me. Have you felt that somehow life was unfair, that it just wasn't right that this happened to you? Why do you think that?
Accidents happen all the time. Nobody is immune to them. It's not somebody's way of punishing me, it's just an accident, a coincidence. There's nobody to blame for it. Oh, but you say, what happened to me was not an accident. Somebody deliberately did something bad to me. What difference does that make?
Suppose you are sitting there right now thinking, "So and so did something bad to me." But they're not doing it right now. Say you're sitting in your room, on a comfortable chair. You are warm and dry and safe. Nothing bad is happening to you right now. You are just sitting there thinking about it. And every time you think about what was done to you, you get angry, sad, frustrated, disappointed, or afraid that it might happen again.
And yet, stop and realize. This is a thought projection.
So you are replaying this story in your head that says "This person did so and so to me and it wasn't fair." That's the story you are replaying over and over. And you feel bad when you think about it. You fear it might happen again. But question number four is "Who would you be without that thought?"
Right now, in this present moment, you are sitting there warm and dry and comfortable and safe. Nothing bad is happening to you in this present moment. The story you are replaying in your head is a thought projection. It's not real. Because when I ask you "Who would you be without that thought?" You have to realize that if you couldn't think the thought "This shouldn't have happened to me" then you'd be sitting there, just fine, safe and happy. The bad thing isn't happening now. You're rehashing it in your mind, and it's the thought that is causing you the pain, not the actual event.
So when I fall down and hurt myself, if I'm unable to think the thought "This shouldn't have happened to me," then all I'm doing is noticing. Oh, I fell down. Oh well. And you don't have the thought of how unfair it is. You just notice what happened, and go on with life.
The falling down only hurt for a minute and then it was over. It's the rehashing that keeps hurting me, and I can stop it at any time.
It's my choice to keep suffering. It's your choice too.
Maybe you keep carrying with you something that happened to you years ago, feeling it was unfair and replaying it over and over in your mind. And you blame whoever did it to you, or maybe you are angry with God for allowing it, or whatever. Please realize that it's not that person that is continuing to hurt you. It's YOU that is continuing to hurt you. You don't have to believe the thought "That shouldn't have happened to me."
So question number three is, "How do you react when you think this thought?" You feel sad, confused, unhappy, frustrated, or afraid.
And question number four, "Who would you be without that thought?" For me, I would notice that I fell down, and I would notice that it hurt, but that's it. I would get up and go on. And I wouldn't be bothered by the thought "This shouldn't have happened to me" because I know that's not true.
Maybe you feel that what happened to you was more serious. Falling down is pretty benign. But what if you felt personally assaulted or emotionally injured? "How can I say it doesn't matter?" Well, I'm sure at the time it was happening it was painful. I'm not asking you to deny that it hurt. But it's over now. It's not happening to you now. Now it's just a thought, and that thought can't hurt you unless you believe it. Continuing to think about it and believe the thought "this shouldn't have happened to me" is continuing to live in those feelings. That's what's hurting you.
Can you think of one good reason to keep the thought "That shouldn't have happened to me?" One stress-free, pain-free reason? The only reason to keep the thought is so you can keep rehashing it and keep those feelings alive. There's no other good reason to keep that thought. So if you choose to keep it, realize that you are causing your own suffering. It's not your mother or your spouse or God or whoever you're blaming. It's you and you alone.
No, you didn't cause the event. But you are causing this continuing, ongoing suffering.
But I know. You feel like if you let this event go, you are somehow letting that person off the hook. In your thinking, you feel that if you soften your anger towards them, you are somehow letting them get away with something. How is that possible? They don't even know what's going on in your head. Only you are being affected by your own thoughts. You want to keep holding that person responsible, but you're actually holding yourself prisoner.
Katie likes to say, "There are three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business (reality)." If I start worrying about what another person "should" be doing, then I'm in their business. What another person does or doesn't do is NOT my business. "If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine?"
So when something happens to you, non-judgmentally notice what is happening, and move on without any thoughts of blame toward the other person or situation, and without thinking how unfair it is. And if you can't, well, that's a worksheet. Before we do the Four Questions, we fill in what Katie calls the "Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet." Then we apply the four questions to the statements on the worksheet. And then magic happens. We become free.
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