Most people love to be right. I am no different except I also love being wrong.
Last week I was running on the beach as it was starting to get dark. As I came upon the last secluded stretch, I noticed two "shady" looking guys hovering around something on the ground.
My heart was already pounding from the run, but it sped up even more as frightening images started flashing in my mind about who they were, what they could be up to, and what might happen to me.
I felt my pocket for my cell phone, just incase, and wondered if I would regret continuing to run in their direction.
When I got within a few feet, I finally saw the dark and scary mischief they were actually up to.
They were building two huge hearts in the sand.
As I ran by, I watched them adjusting each and every rock, inch by inch, creating huge, sweeping, beautiful arcs. I slowed my pace way down taking all this sweetness in.
After a few moments I decided to turn around and run back to tell them how beautiful I thought their creation was. The guys were working hard, bent over moving and adjusting the heavy stones but beamed up at me saying "Thank you so much!"
"No, I thank you!" I said and ran the last couple of miles back with a gigantic, goofy grin on my face.
Then I noticed the images flashing in my mind had changed from nightmare scenarios to wondering who the hearts might be for. Each other? Me and other random people passing by? A faraway friend they would send the pictures to?
All of us tell stories in our mind all day long. It is so good to slow down and just notice them. And as much as we assume they are true, it is not necessarily so. They are merely thoughts that we are believing.
Some stories make us elated and others cause us immense suffering.
When I feel rotten about something I am believing, I love being shown how wrong I am. It makes me laugh like crazy. This kind of laughter is pure gold, because nothing feels better than the truth.
Think of something right now that is bothering you. It could be something about yourself or someone else. What if somehow it wasn't absolutely true. Do you feel a slight sense of relief? A glimmer of hope?
Byron Katie talks about how afraid we can get when we think we see a snake in the grass in front of us. And then, if it turns out to be a rope, we can't go back to being afraid. It isn't possible. This is how inquiry works doing her process called The Work. Using this process, all we do is question our scary or painful thoughts.
There is so much freedom in questioning thoughts. Is it a snake or a rope? Are they good guys or bad? Am I good or bad? And how do I react when I believe any of these negative thoughts?
That day on the beach, I could have turned around immediately when I saw those guys, and later told my scary story over and over again about what almost happened to me. But because I have been questioning my thoughts for a few years now, I made a conscious choice to open my mind to possibilities,
This is the same kind of work I often do with my clients, and I love experiencing the freedom they find when the painful belief they have about someone they love, or a situation they are in, might hold some different possibilities. It takes great courage to do The Work but it is worth it.
This isn't about making anyone wrong, it is just about possibilities that are difficult to see when we are triggered by someone or something, and we are sure we are right. That riotous indignation can keep us stuck, suffering, and separate from the people we love.
Doing this work on my thoughts also turns out to be the most deeply spiritual practice I have ever done. The process of Inquiry always seems to give way to love and peace.
Since we are having thoughts all day long, it is so helpful to stop and question the painful ones.
When you are feeling unhappy, you can visit Byron Katie's website. The materials are there for free. You can do it yourself or it can be helpful having someone gently walk you through the four question process.
This work can change your life.
I am so glad I didn't believe my scary thoughts that day on the beach. If I had, I would have totally missed the beautiful experience that I now carry with me as additional proof that if I question my painful thoughts, the truth will set me free. And sometimes I just love being wrong.