One variation on The Work is to first ask when did you first have the belief? Then do the four questions and the turnarounds from that age and situation. And then return to the regular inquiry.
I find that I drop down into a place where the stories and emotions are simpler and more essential. The experience is often stronger, and I get to see that the simple pattern from childhood is still played out as adult, although with a few more complexities. I threw a tantrum as a child. And I throw a tantrum as adult as well, only with the appearance of slightly more sophistication.
So what tantrum did you have as a child?
(question from an email)
I was 5 or 6 years old and in London with my parents. At the end of a long day, I wanted coke in a can, but they only have coke in a bottle – which obviously wouldn’t do. I started screaming and crying and running around, and even threw away a little ivory folding knife they had bought me.
I sometimes still do the same when I don’t get what I want, although it looks different.
Another example: When I was about 4, my father got very angry at me. As a four-year-old, I thought he didn’t love or care about me anymore, I thought he would abandon me, I thought I would die. It is understandable for a four-year-old to believe that, especially as I was not used to him being angry. And I recognize some of those patterns still, when that belief comes up. Most of the time, they are so far in the background that I don’t notice, but sometimes they come to the foreground, and that’s a good opportunity to take a look at them and find what’s more true for me now.