Go back to when you were about six or seven years old. Have you heard a new stressful thought since then?
By the time we’re little kids, we’ve heard it all.
Look at the thoughts you’ve written down:
People don’t care.
They’re going to hurt me.
He doesn’t like me.
How many of you have had the thought They don’t like me?
Is there anyone who has never had that thought?
Okay, now, I invite all of you to close your eyes and go back to the first time you can remember believing that thought.
Where were you,
who were you with,
how old were you the first time that you heard People don’t like me?
Look at the house or the playground where you heard it.
Maybe you can find the room,
maybe you can remember the person you heard it from.
Be silent, close your eyes and experience that again.
Sit in that.
How many of you were younger than ten?
Younger than eight? Six?
By the time you were six years old, you were already believing such thoughts.
Some of you were six, some of you were three or four.
For some of you, it wasn’t even you they said it to;
your mother said it to your brother or your sister.
And you observed it and took it on.
The moment you believed it, you took it on.
Now keep your eyes closed,
and go back to the first time you can remember hearing it.
Look at you the moment you believed it,
now look at yourself just before you believed it.
Look at your life before you believed it.
Do you see the difference?
Pretty major, isn’t it?
And we’re just looking at one concept and its effects.
How do I react when I believe the thought They don’t like me?
I was happy,
and in the moment I believed,
I was diminished to unacceptable,
and then the mind began to prove it,
through comparisons, concepts, images.
Now go back to the first thing you can remember.
Maybe it was when you were two or three or four.
Before there are words that you understand, there is no you.
You have to become a believer to become a you.
So go back to the first memory.
Where were you?
Maybe you can remember the house or who you were with,
what was going on.
Who were you before your first memory?
Were you anything at all?
Notice: did you exist before that first memory?
Someone tells you that Susie doesn’t like you,
and you believe them.
You don’t stop to ask yourself, “Is it true?”
You don’t stop to understand for yourself.
Then Susie walks up to you and says, “Hi,”
and you think, Susie’s pretending to like me.
Because you believe what you heard,
the Susie you meet is the Susie of your mind,
not necessarily the real Susie,
the one who may like you in fact.
You see her as an enemy.
And all she said was “Hi.”
The life of a believer is a life of separation,
a life of suffering.
So when you answer the four questions,
it’s not a little thing.
Reality—the world—is beautiful just the way it is.
what we believe about the world isn’t always beautiful.
To work with the mind is to begin to recognize that earth is heaven,
and that what we believe about earth creates hell.
My job is to invite you to wake up in heaven.
The Work is the end of the world as we understand it to be.
Loving what is, and that would be you.
– Byron Katie
For more information about The Work, visit TheWork.com
You might want to read the Introduction of The Work of Byron Katie by Stephen Mitchell.