Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday #16: “Who Would You Be Without Your Story?” by Byron Katie

Dear kids,

It’s all about perspective. It’s all about the story you tell yourself. Not a new idea by any stretch. But if you take it seriously, rather than just coffee-mugging it, the implications are quite profound.

While I’m not entirely sure you will “get” Katie’s process of self-inquiry without reading one of her books or at least watching a few of her sessions on video, read these book quotes and let me know what you think. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong.

This book, as Katie’s other books, is mostly a collection of transcripts from her work with clients as she helps them unpack and neutralize their negative beliefs.

Some awesome quotes:

  • Brian: I feel like a scumbag now. Katie: Sweetheart, you haven’t had a choice. That’s the point of this. When you believe the thought “He is uncaring and irresponsible,” you don’t have a choice. You have to live out of that belief.
  • You feel bad? But it’s pure innocence. If I believe it, I have to live out of it. I can try and try and try, I can use positive affirmations, but under these affirmations, what I really believe is what drives me to act.
  • We want war to end in the world, but basically we think that war works in our lives.
  • Do you know how I know that our nature is good? Every thought that would oppose that or attack it feels like stress. I use the term God—and for me, reality is God, because it rules—but I sometimes say, “God is everything, God is good.” People who truly live that don’t need The Work. It’s over, because out of that comes peace.
  • Katie: So to ask with intention. “You have a sleep disorder”—can you absolutely know that that’s true? Valerie: It feels true. Katie: Yes. If I answered that question for myself, if I were to not-sleep to the death, this would be normal for me. Normal is what is going on now. And for those of you new to The Work, “normal” doesn’t mean that I’m not going to go to a doctor. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to take medication. It doesn’t mean anything— this is about inquiry. When I argue with what is, it hurts. It hurts more than sleep deprivation. So if I don’t sleep, I love that! That’s what is. And in the peace of that, I know where to go, what to do. It’s not even me doing it. It’s a knowing. It’s what is, moving itself as itself—God. So it’s no longer confused.
  • I love to invite people to do three things every day that are kind, good, and helpful, and that no one knows about, and if any-one finds out to start all over again. This is a way to learn freedom, a way to begin living your nature. With you, I would invite you to do three things a day to help the federal government, for your own sake.
  • Who started the war? I did. She just told the truth. And I start to punish her for being more enlightened than I am. If there is a war in my life, I started it. There’s no exception. If the war ends in my life, I end it. I end it, or it doesn’t end. No exception.
  • It was so wonderful when I really understood that I was mediocre. Oh my goodness, what a balance!
  • You know, all that’s required of me is that I be good enough just to sit in this chair now.
  • I’m good at something, I don’t give it to the world. I give it to my daughter; I give it to you. I give it to the one in front of me, because I’ve received it myself. I have the ability to do that. If I have the most sweetheart thing in the world, it’s not for everyone. It’s for the one in front of me—it’s for me first and then you. That’s it. That’s all that’s required. No push, no pull. It’s not for a grand scale. It’s just for this, the one in front of you. That’s your job. Katie: Life is so simple: We walk; we sit; we lie horizontal. That’s about it. Everything else is a story about what’s going on while we’re doing it. Stan: It’s almost like the stories make my being real. [The audience applauds.] And without the story, I wouldn’t be real. Katie: And you’ve never been real. You know that. Stan: Yes. I’ve been at the forefront of the story. [He gives a low whistle.] Holy shit! [The audience laughs loudly.] Wow! My hairs are standing up. Is that significant? [More laughter.] Oh my God, that’s really true. Without my stories, there’s really nothing here.
  • You know, The Work is like this. You’re walking through the desert and it’s a beautiful day; and you look down and see a big fat rattlesnake, and you’re terrified of rattlesnakes. You jump back, your heart is racing, your pulse is beating, you’re paralyzed with fear, sweat on your brow. Then the sun goes behind a cloud and you look again, and it isn’t a snake after all—it’s a rope. Now I invite you to stand over the rope for a thousand years and make yourself afraid of it again. You can’t.

To get started with Byron Katie, see:


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