I reached a point where the obvious turnarounds didn't feel true anymore... and I had to look deeper for what was true. By doing the Worksheets, I started to see things that I hadn't seen before... like the fact that BK was an "anti-Christ". Yep, that came about in my turnarounds. I also started to see how manipulative my in-laws were, and how what they were doing to me was breaking down my sense of self. I realized that The Work isn't supposed to work this way... but I had to find what was TRUE. And, this was obviously what was true. There were times when nothing even turned around.
It was around this time when I discovered that if I tried to turnaround a stressful thought like, "My mother-in-law is evil" to myself... I would break down into tears, and feel nauseated. I came to realize that this was my own way of letting myself know that... well, that my mother-in-law IS evil... and the fact that she was constantly tearing me down is what caused my stress. It had nothing to do with my thoughts. It was my body's way of saying, "Hey, JJ... this stuff is not in your best interest."
BK says that until you get to the point where you can see your enemy as your friend, you're not done with your Work.
Wrong. When you get to the point where you can see that your enemies really are your enemies and the cause of your stress, you're done with The Work.
I realized that if I were to see my in-laws as friends, I would lose my marriage, my home, and everything that is sacred and valuable to me. It's just not smart to call your enemies friends... and to fail to see how they are hurting you... and to let them keep doing it. It's pretty dumb, actually... unrealistic, and potentially harmful to your own well-being. (However, I realize how this belief could be valuable for BK among her followers.) I came to understand that what The Work was doing to people... was really messed up in this way.
JJ - thanks for sharing your story. I have to say it is so cool that you ended up doing the Work ON the Work!! If everyone did that, BK'd soon be out of business. It's so ironic how people rave about the Work, they find so many solutions from it, but they only question the original thought, and stop there; they don't go on to question that NEW 'truth.' They don't do the Work ON the Work. So it's an incomplete (and hypocritical) process.
It seems to me like two big problems with the theology of the Work itself (not even taking into account the cult methodologies) are:
1) you are never allowed to answer "Yes" to the question "Is that true?" BK always takes you to the point where you decide that it's not true. If it were truly a benign method of inquiry and simply TESTING your thoughts, finding some of them are true and some aren't, it would be a helpful practice. But you aren't allowed to ever stop at question 1 or 2 with a "yes" answer. You have to come to a point of believing that the thought is not true. So looking at your examples of your in-laws, you had to convince yourself that they really aren't toxic -- when in fact they really are. And you found that trying to believe a lie caused you and your family much more stress and problems than you'd had before doing the Work. (But in the end, it did get you to the point of being able to cut off ties with them altogether because of what you learned about cults and even by trying to live by the opposite of what your gut told you. So some good did come out of it, at least.)
2) It seems that often when people do the Work, they are trading one stress for another... like you did with the situation with your family.
For another example, there is a troubling thought I have every single morning: "I have to go to work." What would happen if I did The Work on that thought?
Is it true? Yes, if I want to keep my job and my family to be able to afford a house. No, if I want to end my career and not have as much money.
Can you absolutely know that it's true? No, for the reasons stated above.
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I get depressed and feel stressed. And then I get up and go to work.
Who would you be without the thought? Well, I'd be a person who didn't work, whose family depended only on one income so our lifestyle would radically change. I'd leave behind the stress of working, but my husband and I would pick up the stress of financial difficulty.
Turnaround: I don't have to go to work.
I did this tongue-in-cheek - although it is true that I really don't want to work; I would rather be a stay-at-home mom. But I weigh the pros and cons of it and right now it's the best thing to do. And yes, the thought "I have to go to work today" DOES depress me and stress me out every weekday morning! But that's life on this planet. The vast majority of us get up every day and do things we don't want to do and that cause us stress. If we tried to live in such a way that we never had negative stress in our lives, we would abscond all responsibility to ourselves and others and we'd probably end up in a halfway house like Katie did. If I really tried to live in a completely non-stressful way, I'd have to find a shack on some land somewhere and live by myself and grow a garden for food. But then not being around others would make me lonely, which is stressful. Maybe some rabbits would get into my garden, which would be stressful. And so on. I don't think there's any way to avoid trouble; you're only trading one kind for another.
I was noticing something about all the statements that I've read BK or people doing the Work on. It seems like they are always a certain kind of statement, that starts with feelings. "I'm afraid of," "I'm mad at", etc. So are there rules about the certain kinds of statements you can use to do the Work on?