Monday, June 23, 2008

Jana's turn-around

(Continues previous post.)

Jana finally woke up. She felt much better, but knew that she'd probably fall into the same nightmarish state again if Jolene didn't show up that night.

A few months before, Jana's best friend from high school had offered to introduce her to
The Work of Byron Katie and go through the Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet with her. Jana gave her a call and arranged to get together that afternoon. To prepare, Jana downloaded the worksheet and answered the questions in writing:
1. Who angers, frustrates, or confuses you, and why?
I am angry at Jolene because she disappeared and didn’t have the decency to let me know what happened.

2. How do you want them to change? What do you want them to do?
I want Jolene to stop hiding from me and let me know who she really is.

3. What is it that they should or shouldn’t do, be, think or feel? What advice could you offer?
Jolene shouldn’t be afraid to commit to our relationship. She should let go of whatever made her run away from me and then she should come back.

4. What do they need to do in order for you to be happy?
I need Jolene to come back to me.

5. What do you think of them? Make a list.
Jolene is smart, funny, beautiful, sexy, adventurous, imaginative, assertive.

6. What is it that you don’t want to experience with that person again?
I don’t ever want to feel abandoned by Jolene again.
Later that day when her friend arrived, Jana went through the Four Questions and the turn-around:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Turn it around
Here's a transcription of Jana's work that day:
Friend: Alright Jana. To start, read the worksheet out loud all the way through.

Jana: (reads work sheet)

Friend: What stands out to you? Which line has the most punch?

Jana: That's easy. It's "I don’t ever want to feel abandoned again."

Friend: Okay, so Jolene abandoned you, is it true?

Jana: Yes. It is true.

Friend: Jolene abandoned you. Can you absolutely know it’s true that Jolene abandoned you?

Jana: (sighs) No. She could be dead for all I know.

Friend: How do you react, what happens when you believe the thought “Jolene abandoned me."

Jana: I freak out and go nuts.

Friend: Describe the feeling that happens physically when you think the thought "Jolene abandoned me."

Jana: I get short of breath. I feel like I can’t breath. My throat gets dry. I feel nauseous. I feel hot.

Friend: Anything else?

Jana: I feel nervous. Scared. Terrified.

Friend: Who would you be without the thought “Jolene abandoned me.”

Jana: I’d be happier. Calmer. Back to normal.

Friend: Who would you be with Jolene?

Jana: Probably less desperate. Now that I think about it, this started before she disappeared. I would feel flashes of abandonment, but I just ignored them. So I guess I’d be less clingy. More secure.

Friend: Turn the thought around.

Jana: What do you mean?

Friend: Statements can be turned around to yourself, to the other, to the opposite and occasionally other variations. So one example would be “Jolene did not abandon me.” Is that true or truer for you?

Jana: Damn. Yes. Sitting here now, it doesn’t really make sense that I labeled what happened as Jolene abandoning me.

Friend: Give three genuine examples that Jolene did not abandon you.

Jana: I’m not her child, so even if she left it wouldn’t be abandoning me. She’d just be leaving.

Jana: I don’t know what happened, so she may have had a good reason not to be able to let me know that she wasn’t going to be there.

Jana: Nothing really changed except that I got upset. So, our relationship is what it always was as far as I know.

Friend: Turn the thought around to yourself

Jana: hmm? I abandoned me?

Friend: Can you find three examples that would make it true or truer than “Jolene abandoned me”

Jana: Well, part of me knew that I was getting upset about something that could easily be untrue. So when the part of me that knew better gave up and stopped contradicting those thoughts, I abandoned myself.

Friend: Another example? It could be with this situation or with your life in general.

Jana: I don’t know why I gave so much power to Jolene. I mean, I really hardly know her and it felt like I wanted to die just because she didn’t log in for a couple of days. So I abandoned myself when I let myself believe I wasn't enough without her. Like she was my air or my heart.

Friend: Third example?

Jana: There were probably a lot things I could do to snap out of that crazy feeling. But I just gave in to it and let myself be possessed by all that shit. I could have called some other friend or calmed myself down and thought through everything. But I just got to a point where I gave up on myself and let it all happen.

Friend: I hear you. Find another turnaround. “Jolene abandoned me”

Jana: I abandoned Jolene. Ha, that’s pretty funny.

Friend: Find three examples. See if it’s true or truer.

Jana: Well, like I said, she could have been dead or hurt or in trouble. But I didn’t worry about her or how I might be able to help her, I just cared about what it meant to me.

Jana: Maybe if I was more open with her, she would be able to be more open with me. I guess I was just interested in how she made me feel, not who she really was or what she needed.

Friend: Find another example. Imagine yourself crying, hurt over Jolene and find “I abandoned Jolene.”

Jana: I abandoned my good thoughts about Jolene so that’s like abandoning her. I closed my heart to her the minute I felt abandoned. So I abandoned her. I know that. And I really have no idea about what happened on her side.
When Jana logged into Second Life that night her perception had definitely shifted. It was possible that she'd short-circuited the chain of troubling thoughts and feelings enough to prevent the cycle from recurring. If not, she had learned a simple method to strip them of their power. By the way, it turned out that Jolene's electrical power had been out for two days after an ice storm. Coincidence?
Forgiveness is seeing what I thought happened, didn’t.
Bryon Katie

One more post to wrap this baby up and then we're out of here.


Dale Innis said...

Thinking about and working with this kind of thought-tool can probably be very helpful if done in advance. But how many of us can actually be that rational at the time? If our subject was able to answer these questions that thoughtfully and honestly, would she really need the tool in the first place?

I tend to imagine something like:

Friend: Statements can be turned around to yourself, to the other, to the opposite and occasionally other variations. So one example would be “Jolene did not abandon me.” Is that true or truer for you?

Jana: God no, what do you mean? I *wish* the hadn't, but she lied to me, she's dumped me, I feel like I'm dying and all you can do is ask me some stupid trick questions? [dissolves into tears]

I had the same reactions to a book that my therapist recommended that I read on depression; it had lots of good thought tools in it that I'm sure would have worked great, as long as I wasn't (say) depressed when trying to use them... :)

Botgirl Questi said...

Hi Dale:

Once you build up some experience with the four questions approach, it can be used in the heat of the moment to pop the emotional bubble of distressing thoughts.

To start, skill is developed through using it as a regular practice, like meditation.

Your example of Jana's labeling the query as a "stupid trick question" rings true, I think, because we're used to feeling like someone is trying to "fix us."

What I like about "The Work" is that it's 100% self-help. In Jana's case, her friend wasn't responsible for anything but a gentle reminder here and there.

From my own limited experience, reports from friends, and dozens of sessions I've watched via video, people who choose to investigate their own thoughts through the method usually are willing to try an idea on for size. In the rare cases when someone really can't genuinely see its validity, they just move on to the next turnaround.

Like meditation, there is little or no benefit from reading about The Work, outside of preparation for doing the practice. As far as I can tell Bryon Katie has no fixed philosophy other than "Fill out the worksheet, Ask the four questions, Turn it around."

Dale Innis said...

Yep, sensible. Having had experience with it, fit it into one's worldview, before a really emotionally engulfing crisis comes up would probably help very much. (Might stop the crisis from coming up, or at least from getting so bad, in the first place even.)

Interesting stuff...

Zippora Zabelin said...

Wow...returning after about a week of not reading blogs I find this series. That's a terrific analysis of human behaviour in the metaverse!
*giggles* and by times very familiar *blush* I'm only human after all ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm very late to this conversation but I wanted to comment. Dale says Jana would say "all you can do is ask me trick questions". You say you can build up experience. I'm here to say that you are (as you probably know) oh so very very right.

A good friend of mine taught me how to turn around how I look at things, how to change the words I use to describe myself and others from negatives to positives. It took years and it took a lot of conscious practice. But it works and relationships are so much better when you can do it. (okay - i confess - i still have issues trying to do this with my mother! LOL)

I call it my paradigm shift. I changed my outlook from everything that i "knew" was true. I shifted to another pov.

What you write about is what is fascinating me about SL: what our SL avatar/actions say about who we are in RL.

Thank you for your blog!