Stories about The Work

Some common and less common stories about The Work, and how they are not true, true, and true about me.

The Work… is pollyannish, superficial, cognitive therapy, rationalization, affirmations, pacifying, makes you into a doormat, and is heartless.

  • The Work is pollyannish
    • The Work is not pollyannish: No, it helps me discover what is already more true for me. If anything, it is sobering. It helps me look at situations from many different angles, including some I have resisted in the past, and get a fuller and more nuanced picture.
    • The Work is pollyannish: It is in that it reveals the complete innocence behind any story and belief. It does also help find the good in anything, but only as part of a bigger picture, and only as one story overlaid on an inherently neutral situation.
    • I am pollyannish: Well, yes. When I believe a story I am pollyannish in the sense of being naive. I naively take that story to be true, accurate, substantial, and act as if it is. Also, I am pollyannish/naive if I believe things about The Work or any other practice, if I rely on preconceived ideas of what I will find, and if I go to those ideas instead of what is alive here now.

  • Superficial
    • No: Not at all. When I stay with a belief, I stay superficial. But when I explore it, and find the truths in its reversals, it is richer, deeper.
    • Yes: Yes, in the sense of being very simple. Also, it is superficial in that any stories are pretty superficial, just a simple thought arising here now in awareness, and The Work focuses on exploring those stories.
    • Me: Yes, I am, especially when I believe in a story.
  • Cognitive therapy
    • No: It does not come out of cognitive therapy. Also, it has elements of cognitive therapy but goes far beyond it. It is far more radical. Goes far more to the core of who and what we are, all the way to Big Mind/Heart.
    • Yes: It certainly contains elements of cognitive therapy, and may look like it on the surface. Also, it works with our stories just like cognitive therapy.
    • Me: I am cognitive therapy? Well, I am when that is happening here. Also, I am sure I am material for other people’s inquiries, so in that sense it is true as well.
  • Rationalization
    • No: Not at all. Again, it helps us find what is already more true for us about the topic of our initial story. It helps us get a fuller picture, find the truth in many different angles, and discover the inherent neutrality of the situation behind all these stories. If we got stuck in just one story, different from our initial one and easier to deal with, then it would be rationalization. But here, we find a fluidity among a wider range of stories. It opens our eyes, helps us be more sober and honest about it.
    • Yes: Well, yes, in that it reframes experience in a new way, often one that is easier to handle.
    • Me: I rationalize. Yes, I am sure I do that quite often, especially in the sense of reconstructing/making up reasons for doing something. That is actually all I can do. I do something, and then make up stories about why later.
  • Affirmations
    • No: Again, The Work helps us find what is already more true for us about the topic of the initial belief. When we explore the truth in the turnarounds, we find how it is already true for us, and find examples from our daily life. (We don’t explore how we would like it to be true.)
    • Yes: Well, in the sense of sinking into a particular story and getting a felt-sense of it as true. When we explore the truth in turnarounds, we stay with it until there is a felt-sense of its truth. (A truth that is here now, not somewhere in the future.)
    • Me: I do affirmations. Yes, as outlined above. Even more true, I do affirmations whenever I believe in any story. I tell myself it is true. I repeat and rehearse it. I visualize it. I interpret everything through it. I act as if it is true.
  • Pacifying
    • No: Not at all. In my experience, being caught up in beliefs can pacify. Either that, or bring about compulsive actions. When there is a freedom from beliefs, there is also a freedom to live wholeheartedly. Free from compulsiveness, shoulds, and all the ways we lock ourselves up through beliefs. There is a fuller and more wholehearted engagement, including in all the conventional ways.
    • Yes: Well, it is pacifying in that the drama goes out of situations. We are not caught up in shoulds, in compulsiveness, in trying to prove that we are right, protecting our beliefs and identities.
    • Me: I am pacified/pacifying. In both of the ways above, in different ways, different situations, different times.
  • Makes you into a door mat
    • No: No, quite the contrary. Being a door mat comes from fear, which in turn comes from being caught up in certain beliefs. When there is clarity, we are anything but a door mat. We find ourselves more than capable of taking care of ourselves and those around us. To give a clear yes or no. To use whatever means and tools seem appropriate in a situation.
    • Yes: Well, in the sense of not having any beliefs or identities to protect. Someone accuses me of something, and instead of (stupidly) defending my contrary image or beliefs, I find what they see in me in myself. I find the genuine truth in it. I join with the other instead of going into battle. I find clarity.
    • Me: In both of the ways above.
  • Heartless
    • No: It helps us see what is true for ourselves in a very gentle and kind way. It helps us open our mind and heart to ourselves. There is nothing heartless in that. Also, when we are caught up in beliefs, our heart easily closes down. And released from beliefs, it naturally reveals itself as already open.
    • Yes: It is heartless in that it is ruthless. It requires ruthless honesty and sincerity, taking what we find seriously no matter how much it may go against our familiar beliefs and identities. It is heartless in that sense, within a context of kindness.
    • Me: In all the ways above. I close my heart when I am caught up in shoulds and life doesn’t show up in that way. I am sometimes ruthless in inquiry, seeking truth more than (temporary) comfort.

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