Its wisdom is great, but its writing is absolutely awful. The book is mostly unedited transcripts of live group therapy sessions, including every little speech affectation, and lots of repetitive unnecessary rambling. But if you can get through all that, there are some great ideas inside of it, prompting you to question your harmful stories.
Spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation.
1. In this situation, who angers, confuses, saddens, or disappoints you, and why?
2. In this situation, how do you want them to change? What do you want them to do?
3. In this situation, what advice would you offer them? “They should/shouldn’t…”
4. In order for you to be happy in this situation, what do you need them to think, say, feel, or do?
5. What do you think of them in this situation? Make a list.
6. What is it about this situation that you don’t ever want to experience again?
1. Is it true? (If no, skip next question.)
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who or what would you be without the thought?
TURN THE THOUGHT AROUND. Find examples of how each turnaround is true for you in this situation.
For example, “He shouldn’t waste his time” may be turned around to “I shouldn’t waste my time,” “I shouldn’t waste his time,” and “He should waste his time.”
Consider whether or not the turned-around statement is as true or more true.
Can you see a reason to drop that thought?
We suffer when we believe a thought that argues with reality - when we want reality to be different than it is.
“People should be kinder.”
“You should agree with me.”
Which is more empowering?
“I wish I hadn’t lost my job”
“I lost my job. What intelligent solutions can I find right now?”
Mind your own business.
When you think, “You need to get a job,” “I want you to be happy,” “You should be on time,” you are in someone else's business.
When you are worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when you will die, you are in God’s business.
A thought is harmless unless you believe it.
Don't believe it’s true without inquiring.
You are not what your thoughts say you are.
Story = thoughts or sequences of thoughts that we convince ourselves are real.
Stories appear in our minds hundreds of times a day - when someone gets up without a word and walks out of the room, when someone doesn’t return a phone call, or when a stranger smiles.
Stories are the untested, uninvestigated theories that tell us what all these things mean.
We don’t even realize that they’re just theories.
You are the storyteller, the projector of all stories.
The world is the projected image of your thoughts.
Change the projector - mind - rather than the projected.
Every story will be a variation on a single theme: “This shouldn’t be happening.”
“My friend betrayed me."
The teachers we need most are the people we’re living with now.
Our spouses, parents, and children are the clearest spiritual masters we could hope for.
They will show us the truth we don’t want to see, until we see it.
After years of preaching and nagging and punishing them, I saw that I was the one who should pick up the socks if I wanted them picked up.
My children were perfectly happy with their socks on the floor. Who had the problem? It was me.
I could be right or I could be free.
It took just a few moments for me to pick up the socks, without any thought of my children.
I realized that I loved picking up their socks. It was for me, not for them.
Eventually, my children noticed my pleasure and began to pick up their socks on their own, without my having to say anything.
Abandoned. Nervous. Angry. Violent: You are in the past or future, not current reality.
Don’t go to these places if it’s not authentic for you.
"shouldn’t" = mentally arguing with what is.
It doesn’t do you any good, and it doesn’t change anyone.
Its only effect is to cause you stress.
Reality has no “should” or “shouldn’t.” These are only thoughts that we superimpose onto reality.
Without “should” and “shouldn’t,” we can see reality as it is.
This leaves us free to act efficiently, clearly, and sanely.
Asking “What’s the reality of it?” can help bring the mind out of the story, back into the real world.
The truth is whatever is in front of you, whatever is really happening.
Not-true appears true because your concepts are based on a lifetime of uninvestigated beliefs.
“There’s too much violence,” “We should love one another more"
These stories seem sensitive, kind, and caring.
Believing them causes stress.
Even if the whole world tells me so, is it really true?
Every story prevents us from seeing what’s true.
The truth is itself and will not be dictated to by anyone.
Can you really know what’s going on inside someone else’s mind?
Can you absolutely know what another person is feeling, even when he tells you?
Can you be certain that he is clear about his own thoughts and emotions?
Have you ever been confused about who or what you were upset by?
Can you really know that you feel hurt because someone is angry? Is that persons’s anger actually causing your hurt?
Investigate each of your “proof of truth” statements:
"He sometimes walks by me without speaking. That proves that he doesn’t love me."
Is it true? Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
Notice internal cause and effect.
Notice that when you believe the thought, you have an uneasy feeling, a disturbance that can range from mild discomfort to fear or panic.
Since the thought isn’t even true for you, you’re looking at the power of a lie.
Your nature is truth, and when you oppose it, you don’t feel like yourself.
How do I react, what happens, when I believe the thought that people should be more __X__?
I reacted with mental images - of the wrongs to prove that the thought was true.
I was actually sitting in a chair with a cup of tea, but mentally I was living in the pictures of an illusory past.
I became a character in the pages of a myth of suffering: the heroine of suffering, trapped in a world filled with injustice.
I reacted by living in a stressed-out body and mind, seeing everything through fearful eyes, a sleepwalker, someone in an endless nightmare.
Do I operate more clearly when I am stressed or when I am free of stress?
Stress is inefficient.
Change may leave you without an identity.
This is very exciting.
You’re left with nothing and as nothing other than the reality of the moment: you are a person on earth.
This can be scary, since it leaves no illusion of a past or future.
Who is more unkind: the person who insulted you once today or you, who multiplied his insult over and over again in your mind?
Were your feelings the result of their action itself or your own judgments about it?
If they insulted you and you didn’t know about it, would you suffer?
Three kinds of turnarounds: turned around to yourself, to the other, and to the opposite.
Find the thoughts that set you free from the nightmare.
Work and money problems are actually thinking problems.
Underlying beliefs: thoughts we’ve believed for years and that we use as our fundamental judgments of life.
Underlying beliefs are broader, more general versions of our stories. They’re like religions that we unconsciously live.
Life is unfair.
It’s necessary to know what to do.
Death is sad.
It’s possible to miss out on something.
If I don’t suffer, it means that I don’t care.
Children are supposed to like their parents.
Parents are responsible for their children’s choices.
It’s possible to make a mistake.
There is evil in the world.
Example of statements and their underlying beliefs:
"They ignore me when I ask them to put their things away.":
Children should respect adults.
People should respect me.
People should follow my directions.
My direction is best for other people.
If someone ignores me, that means they don’t respect me.
"They fight noisily when I am on the telephone with a client.":
There is a time and a place for everything.
Children have the self-control to be quiet when the phone rings.
Clients are more important than children.
What people think about my children matters to me.
It’s possible to gain respect through control.
"They make fun of things I care about.":
People shouldn’t have fun or be happy at my expense.
Children should care about what their parents care about.
"They walk in unannounced and expect immediate attention when I am working or even in the bathroom.":
There are appropriate times to ask for what you want.
Children should wait for attention.
The bathroom is sacred ground.
Other people are responsible for my happiness.
"They don’t eat or appreciate the food I prepare for them.":
Children shouldn’t make their own decisions about what to eat.
I need to be appreciated.
People’s tastes should shift when I say so.
"They don’t remove their wet shoes before they come into the house.":
I am overworked and not appreciated.
Children should care about the house.
"If I correct one of them, they tease that one and fight.":
I have the power to cause war.
War is my fault.
Parents are responsible for their children’s behavior.
A turnaround: My life should NOT have a purpose.
Is there anything we can know for certain? No. Experience is just perception.
From the moment we attach to a thought, it becomes our religion, and we keep attempting to prove that it’s valid.
The harder we try to prove what we can’t know is true, the more we experience depression and disappointment.