Byron Katie’s “The Work”: An Example of How It Can Apply to Your Career Thinking

A few weeks ago, I talked about how applying the concepts of “The Work” helped me realized that my very bad week really wasn’t that bad. Now, I’m excited to present to you a transcript of a client, “J,” exploring her thoughts about her job using Katie’s process with Facilitator Kathleen Sepeda. As you read this, I invite you to consider your thoughts about your work or life, and how you might answer Kathleen’s questions. Who knows? You mind find yourself thinking completely differently and on a much more positive path!

Session Transcript:

Part 1: Is it true?

Kathleen: Hello J. What thought do you want to bring to inquiry?

J: Hello. The thought that I want to do the work on is: My job doesn’t utilize my gifts.

K: Okay. Your job doesn’t utilize your gifts. Is that true? 

J: Yes.

Part 2: Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

K: Your job doesn’t utilize your gifts. Can you absolutely know this is true? 

J: No, I can’t.

Part 3: How do you react when you believe that thought?

K: How do you react in the moment you believe the thought: My job doesn’t utilize my gifts. What happens? 

J: I get really sad. I feel almost like a little nauseous. Sick to my stomach. It makes me feel anxious that I’m wasting the last half of my life on a job that doesn’t fulfill me and doesn’t utilize what I feel like I can give to the world. 

K: Where do you feel this anxiousness in your body specifically?

J: My stomach. My stomach feels upset, sick to my stomach. Anxiety in my chest. Where it feels a little panicky. 

K: Mmm. Hmmm. How do you treat yourself in the moment you believe My job doesn’t utilize my gifts

J: I feel a little depressed. I feel like I have to make a decision and a choice,

I have to change it. That causes anxiety. I put a lot of pressure on myself to know what to do about it. And that adds stress on top on of the stress I’m already feeling. I don’t treat myself very nicely. 

K: I made a note under Underlying Core Beliefs: I have to make a choice. I have to make a decision. I need to know what to do. I don’t know what to do, which implies, I should know. We’ll leave those for future inquiry. Those are hugely important. Like roots of a tree and then there’s the trunk and the branches and the leaves. It’s like thoughts are born out and it’s big. Believing these core beliefs is very stressful. Believing all of this in one moment, of course, is very stressful. 

K: So, when you’re believing My job doesn’t utilize my gifts, how do you treat your job in those moments?

J: I have a hard time staying focused and motivated to do what I’m supposed to be doing. I do the work that is required that day. I don’t go the extra mile, I don’t put in extra effort, and … I don’t give it the attention that probably it deserves. 

K: Where does your mind travel when you believe My job doesn’t utilize my gifts

J: My mind starts to think about, well, what would I do that utilized my gifts? So, it takes me out of my job and into the space of trying to problem solve or figure it out or come up with an answer. 

K: What addictions kick in when you believe this thought? 

J: The addiction to maybe needing to feel important, to needing to feel valued, to needing to control my path and my destiny. 

K: Mmmm. I’m also noting the thoughts: I need to feel important, I need to feel valued, I need to control my path and my destiny. 

K: In the moment you believe my job doesn’t utilize my gifts, what is the payoff, the perceived benefit? 

J: Boy, that’s a great question! 

K: Please take your time. 

J: Yeah. (Long silence.) Maybe, the perceived benefit is that it gives me a way out of the job itself by believing it’s not utilizing my gifts. It’s an excuse for me to quit. 

K: Do you need an excuse? 

J: No. (Laughter.) 

K: The payoffs are pretty powerful. We leave them for possible future inquiry if desired. I need an excuse to quit. I’ve heard Katie say something similar to, ‘we brutalize ourselves into action.’

J: Oooh! 

K: Yeah. I love that line. In my experience, it’s brutally accurate. Just something to consider. What are you unable to appreciate about your gifts in the moment you’re believing my job doesn’t utilize my gifts?

J: I’m unable to appreciate that my gifts can be given in any situation, if I allow them to be given. 

K: Mmmm. Mmmmm. (Silence.)

J: Yeah. (Silence.) Wow!

K: Nice to know. It doesn’t mean you don’t change jobs. It’s the difference of  ‘Oooh, I’m being called over here!’ Different energy. 

What do you not have access to when you’re believing this thought? 

J: I guess I don’t have access to the opportunities to build strong relationships with my customers when I believe it’s not possible to do that in my current job and role. If I believe that thought, then I’m not able to give those gifts and unable to see where my gifts could be used. 

K: What happens to your ability to access your inner wisdom when you believe the thought?

J: It gets clouded. I can’t think clearly because the panic and the despair almost it feels like covers, quiets the inner wisdom. I’m not in a peaceful place to access it. 

Part 4: Who would you be without the thought?

K: Yeah. It’s not possible for any of us when believing a stressful thought. 

Let’s move to who would you be without this thought? Changing nothing about your job. In the moment you’re unable to believe the thought, what’s different? 

J: I think I would approach my work with a much more whole-hearted way and find opportunities to really connect with my co-workers and customers in a way that is really authentic instead of believing that it’s just not possible. 

K: How would you treat yourself differently given what you just said. If you were to connect in those ways? 

J: Oh! Man, it would be a huge weight off of me! Because I wouldn’t feel that I had to solve the problem of my life. I mean, I could just be really present in the moment of the work that I’m doing instead of constantly taking myself out of it to try to figure out what’s next. I could be more present. 

K: Yeah, which is huge!

J: HUGE!!! 

K: Maybe it’s everything? 

J: Yeah. 

K: How do you view your job in the moments that you’re present and connected in the ways you’ve described? 

J: I view it as exciting and fulfilling. I mean, the work that the company I work for does is ground breaking and no one has ever done it before. If I could not be believing that thought, I could really appreciate what I’m a part of. 

K: Mmmm. Yes. For however long you’re supposed to be there. 

J: Exactly!

K: How do you view your gifts without the belief?

J: Mmmmm. I view them as not needing a specific situation to be used but rather to be used in every situation. 

K: Mmmm. Nice! 

J: WOW!! 

K: That gave me the chills. I love that. The gifts arise when you, J, arise. When you show up to the moment, present, the gifts are there. 

J: YES!! I’m really appreciating The Work right now. 

Part 5: Turnarounds

K: Let’s move the the TurnArounds. Your job doesn’t utilize your gifts. What’s the opposite? 

J: My job does utilize my gifts. 

K: Please give me three specifics, proof of this TurnAround. 

J: I have some customers that I have developed some pretty strong relationships with. One of my gifts is relationship building. That’s one. Because we’re doing something for the first time at my company, I’m able to use my problem solving skills a lot, because there is no road map so you have to figure it out and solve it as you go. And also, in some ways, it allows me to be creative which I think is another of my gifts. Because there is no road map, I get to create and develop in the present moment all the time. 

K: Nice! Another TurnAround?

J: I don’t utilize my gifts. 

K: How is that truer in the moment you’re feeling panic and despair; everything you said during, how do you react? 

J: Yeah. It’s true because I can’t use my gifts when I believe it’s not possible to use them. So, that feels REALLY true to me. It’s not possible. Wow!

K: Try ‘my thinking’ about my job doesn’t utilize my gifts. Try that one on by saying it and see how it sounds to you. 

J: Okay. My thinking about my job doesn’t utilize my gifts. Yeah. I don’t do the extra things to use my gifts. My thinking causes me not to use my gifts. I work with people, part of my gifts is connecting with them. People in general, you can connect with, right?  It doesn’t matter what role they’re in, what job they do, they’re a human first. So, even though the industry may not seem to support that, they are humans and you can connect. If you try. 

K: Your job is your thinking. 

J: Yeah, I like that. 

K: Do you have any additional turnarounds and/or anything you want to share?

J: This is really, really helpful and you know, in me realizing that the problem is not my job, it’s my thinking about my job which I suspected anyway — obviously that’s why we’re doing The Work on this, but I think for me when you asked me, what addiction is it feeding? I was just like WHOA!! My addiction of needing to control. That was not something I had ever thought of and that kind of honestly blew my mind. 

K: That was a very powerful part to witness in your inquiry. 

Use The Work to Clarify Your Questions

Interested in a session with a professional? Contact Kathleen through her website:

The Work - Kathleen Sepeda
Kathleen M. Sepeda


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