Three simple words. “Is it true?”
Asking yourself this question on a regular basis can have a very powerful impact on the direction of your life! Ah, I can hear the grumblings now…does this really work? Yes! In fact, this is considered a highly regarded well-being habit and will completely shift the way you think about yourself, a situation and others.
When we question stressful thoughts or beliefs that we think we know on a regular and habitual basis, change will start to happen in your thinking which will lead to very positive transformation. This habit is known by various names…inquiry, not-knowing or beginner’s mind, and has been around for thousands of years dating back to Socrates.
Why is the practice of inquiry so important?
Because we create stories in our mind about situations and people based on our narrow perspectives and experiences. For example, let’s say someone at work is promoted over you. What do you automatically conjure up in your thoughts? You will often think, “I’m not good at my job. I’ll never be successful. My boss doesn’t like me. I might as well freshen up my resume and start looking now…”. Right? We create “stories” in our mind. The practice of inquiry is a systematic method that helps you question those beliefs. When used, you will “rewire” your neurons to think differently. Neurons that fire together, wire together. Ah, the power of neuroscience!
Most of our lives, we are trained that knowledge is power and that the more we know, the more successful we’ll be. Is that true? I recently came across this thought during a leadership coaching program: Knowledge does not equal understanding. Powerful!
Byron Katie, author of “A thousand Names for Joy,” transformed her life from suicidal depression to one of joy back in 1986. She spent her life teaching others this powerful practice.
“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared.” Byron Katie
The practice of inquiry as developed by Byron Katie, cuts through our stressful thoughts and beliefs.
How do I practice this?
It’s a pretty simple process…give it a try: Write down your stressful thought and then ask these 4 questions from a place of true curiosity and with no real motive. You are doing this for your genuine desire to know the truth.
1. Is it true? This is a simple yes or no answer. Before you write your answer, spend a minute thinking about it.
2. Can I absolutely know that it’s true? Again, this is a simple yes or no answer. If you absolutely believe it’s true, why do you believe that? Then, start questioning your reasons…
3. How do I react – what happens – when I believe that thought?
4. Who would I be without that thought?
Finally, the last step is to turn the thought around. Consider it’s opposite. For example, if your thought is “My boss does not think I’m good at my job”, you might turn it around as:
I am very good at my job.
My boss does think I’m good at my job.
I don’t think my boss is good at his job.
My final thought on this practice: We change our thoughts. We change our actions. We change our lives!