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The Shadow Within Reactivity

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Teacher: Rodney Smith
Date: 2005-02-01
Venue: Seattle Insight Meditation Center



(Edited from The Work by Byron Katie):


Think of someone you dislike, and write down the story of how that emotion evolved. For example, “I resent the fact that my boss does not understand me.” Just sit with this story for a few days and keep reading it over and over. Give yourself space and time to look at the words from a variety of points of view other than simple self-righteousness. Notice how the resentful thoughts change as your moods change. The emotion is what creates the “truth” of the resentment; otherwise the anger cannot sustain itself. In moments when you are not caught in the resentful mood write as objectively as you can the inward thoughts you are confirming when you are lost in resentment (“I am miserable at work. Everyone takes my boss’s side. No one likes me.”).

1) Now take this resentment apart by first asking if it is true that he should understand you. Ultimately can you know what’s best for him to understand? 2) How do you react when you believe that thought? Do you experience anger, stress, and frustration? Do you try to change him? How does it feel physically when you do that? 3) Ask if you can find one stress-free reason to believe these thoughts? (Don’t try to stop them prematurely.) 4) Who would you be without these thoughts? Imagine being with your boss and not having the thought, “He should understand me.” Feel the pain of not being understood, and don’t project any of the emotion onto your boss. Hold the emotion responsibly. It is yours, not his. There is no reason he should understand you except that you “feel” he should. 5) Turn the thought around so instead of thinking, “I am angry at my boss for not understanding me,” change it to, “I am angry at myself because I don’t understand my boss. I should understand him. I should understand myself. I don’t need him to understand me.” These statements empower you to be responsible for your own emotions and projections and keep the shadow from taking shape as an enemy “out there.”

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