Marty Epstein teaches The Work of Byron Katie.
By Marty Epstein
After 30 years of marriage it is beginning to dawn on me that my wife is not the problem whenever we are in disagreement. It is what I am believing about my wife that is the source of stress and pain that is the problem.
In our household we use two credit cards, one card for daily expenses and the other card for large purchases and services e.g. doctors, dentists etc. Over the last month she has used the “wrong” card when she went to dentist and thus threw off the account’s balance. We spoke about it and she said it was an error and it won’t happen again. The other day, it happened again. I noticed a text from my bank that card was used. Upon seeing it, I felt a clenching in my stomach, my mind became agitated and started attacking her: “how can she be doing it again?”, “what’s wrong with her?”, “how can she be so stupid?”, “she is doing this to annoy me”… As I noticed this wave of judgments, the mental assaults on her, the sense of being punched in the gut – there was internal war going on and she was the enemy.
The intensity of this inner activity was like a temple bell. The temple bell to “wake up”. This wakeup call was to come back to myself, come back into the present. In reality, the action of using the “wrong” credit card is over, however the mind, now, is repeating “she used the wrong card” over and over, giving it meaning and with that, I am experiencing anger, stress, tightness in my belly and very agitated. In truth, all that happened is that I received a text message. Fortunately, I have been practicing inquiry, The Work of Byron Katie, for a few years now. I have come to notice that when there is any stress, any resistance to what is happening, The Work becomes activated in me and with that I see that the pain, stress, I am experiencing is not about the thing, it is what I am thinking about the thing. In the example I mentioned above, I found myself moving into a curiosity which I brought to my wife when I saw her that evening. She was so surprised that she had used the “wrong” card as she thought she was so careful. We both laughed knowing that even with our best intentions we sometimes do not see. Ahhh! The human predicament.
“Hurt feelings or discomfort of any kind cannot be caused by another person. No one outside me can hurt me. That’s not a possibility. It’s only when I believe a stressful thought that I get hurt. And I’m the one who’s hurting me by believing what I think. This is very good news, because it means that I don’t have to get someone else to stop hurting me. I’m the one who can stop hurting me. It’s within my power”. Byron Katie from “I Need Your Love – Is That True”