Over the breakfast table one morning earlier this week, we got into a family discussion. “How can we tell when ___________ is angry?”
How can we tell when Julia is angry? That was easy. As a 5-year old, she doesn’t hide anything. Everyone agreed. She screams and sometimes hits. We all know when Julia is angry.
How can we tell when Jono is angry? We all agreed on this one as well. Including Jono. Jono tends to hang his head when he is angry. He hides – under the table or in his room or somewhere downstairs. He hides when he is angry.
How can we tell when Liam is angry? He glares. He has a glare that could kill. Sometimes he glares so hard, and with so much emotion behind it, that tears squeeze out of those glaring eyes.
How can we tell when Ella is angry? Her eyes get big, and she tends to make quick snappy comments. I’ve never seen her “blow up”, but she makes those quick biting comments and then she cries.
I asked How can we tell when Dad is angry? The children kind of looked at each other, and looked at us, and thought about it for a second. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dad angry.” Bryant doesn’t tend to get angry. Not that anyone can walk on him. No. Not at work and not at home – he gets what he needs or wants from people, but he does so without getting angry. Jono didn’t do the dishes last night before he went to bed. When Bry saw this, he didn’t get angry, he just went downstairs and asked Jono to come back upstairs to do the dishes. Jono was mad – he was mad enough for both of them! But Bry wasn’t mad. Just insistent.
PRINCIPLES STUDIED THIS WEEK:
I have been spending time getting through Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is.
Favorite quotes from her book:
- “Progress is none of your business.”
- “It’s helpful to remember that any stressful feeling is like a compassionate alarm clock that says, ‘You’re caught in the dream.’ Depression, pain, and fear are gifts that say, ‘Sweetheart, take a look at your thinking right now. You’re living in a story that isn’t true for you.'”
- “I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. We can know that reality is good just as it is, because when we argue with it, we experience tension and frustration. We don’t feel natural or balanced. When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.”
- “I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s. …Who’s business are you in? … I’ve realized that every time in my life that I had felt hurt or lonely, I had been in someone else’s business.”
In a couple of my thought downloads this week, I’ve taken the time, after the fact, to highlight in pink the thoughts I’d written down that were MY BUSINESS, and in yellow the thoughts I’d written down that were THEIR BUSINESS or maybe even GOD’S BUSINESS.
So telling, my friends! Getting this better visual on my brain and on my thoughts and on “who’s business are you in”, has given me some insight as to why I am feeling what I feeling.
And I’ve been practicing it on my children. When Julia ran to me crying, “Jono isn’t doing his homework!” I ask her, “Who’s business are you in? How does that make you feel?”
When I look over my thought download and read the sentences highlighted in pink, MY BUSINESS, I feel control, I feel comfortable, I feel balance, and, again, some control over the circumstance. Have you had that feeling? Do you know what I am talking about? They are not perfect thoughts, the thoughts I’d written down, but they don’t cause any big emotional reaction within me. A couple examples:
- I invited her.
- I could have stayed longer, but I didn’t.
- I bought him a gift.
But when I read the sentences highlighted in yellow, THEIR BUSINESS or GOD’S BUSINESS, I felt my heart rate pick up. I could physically feel it. I felt like a victim, or as if I had no control. I felt emotionally charged. A couple of examples:
- I wish she would say she loves me.
- I bet he told them all about it.
- She didn’t reply.
- He must be disappointed in me.
“I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s. …Who’s business are you in? … I’ve realized that every time in my life that I had felt hurt or lonely, I had been in someone else’s business.”Byron Katie
Do you see that happening in my examples above?
Something else that Byron Katie suggests is to, when we feel defensive or victimized or anxious, etc, write down our underlying beliefs:
- Children should like their parents
- I know better than that
- They are only thinking of themselves and they should be thinking of others
- She deserves better than that
Allow yourself to stay there in that story a little while. Write down proof that this belief is true. In doing so, you will find even more beliefs revealed.
And then, when you are ready, question your beliefs: Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it is true? How do you react when you think that thought or believe that belief? What would you be like without that belief? Can you think of a non-hurtful reason to keep that belief?
Byron Katie shares case study after case study to illustrate this “work” in action, in her book.
Instead of using the CTFAR model today, I want to answer these questions above. Byron Katie calls it “the work”. I want to do “the work” today, using a sentence from a thought download of mine this week.
CIRCUMSTANCE: I agreed to watch my friend’s 3 year old son for a few days, so she could get away with her husband.
THOUGHT: Shane is such a destructive child. Caring for him is going to be so hard. I’m in over my head.
IS IT TRUE? CAN YOU ABSOLUTELY KNOW THAT IT IS TRUE? No. I cannot.
HOW DO YOU REACT WHEN YOU THINK THAT THOUGHT OR BELIEVE THAT BELIEF? I feel used by my friend. I feel pre-anxiety over the state of the house with Shane here. I feel judgmental of my friend’s mothering. I feel disappointed in myself for agreeing to help.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE LIKE WITHOUT THAT BELIEF? If I didn’t believe that Shane was going to destroy my home and my sanity, I think I would be happy to help. I would be grateful that she trusted me. I wouldn’t feel judgmental of her mothering. I would feel willing to roll with whatever this toddler has in store. I would feel love.
And then Byron Katie always says, “Welcome to The Work!”
Let’s try another one using a conversation I had with my 11-year old son this week.
CIRCUMSTANCE: We have been following covid restrictions for ten months.
HIS THOUGHT: Covid is ruining all my fun.
IS IT TRUE? Yes
CAN YOU ABSOLUTELY KNOW THAT IT IS TRUE? Well, I guess it’s my parents and all the parents that are keeping me from having any fun, because of covid!
HOW DO YOU REACT WHEN YOU THINK THAT THOUGHT OR BELIEVE THAT BELIEF? I feel sad. (And then he starts crying… my first try at this and I have him crying… shoot)