Interview with Byron Katie The Work

Rahasya Poe & Katie Byron in Grass Valley

Byron Katie, founder of The Work, has one job: to teach people how to end their own suffering. When Katie appears, lives change. As she guides people through her simple and powerful process of inquiry, called The Work, they find again and again that their stressful beliefs—about life, other people, or themselves—radically shift. Through this process, anyone can learn to identify and question the thoughts that cause them pain. Katie not only teaches that all the problems in the world originate in our thinking: she gives us the tool to open our minds and set ourselves free. It has been her heart’s desire and tireless privilege to Work with hundreds of thousands of people at free public events, in prisons, hospitals, churches, corporations, universities, and schools. Participants at her weekend workshops and her unparalleled nine-day School for The Work report profound experiences and lasting transformations. “Katie’s events are riveting to watch,” the Times of London reported. Eckhart Tolle calls The Work “a blessing for our planet.” And Time magazine named Katie a “spiritual innovator for the new millennium.” Byron Katie is the author of the bestselling books Loving What Is, I Need Your Love—Is That True?, A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are, and Question Your Thinking, Change the World. On her website,, you will find her blog, a list of upcoming events, a network of facilitators, a free hotline, audio and video clips, articles, and basic information about Katie and The Work, including free materials to download.


LG: Tell me a little bit about your work, Katie.

BK: Okay, The Work is four questions and a turnaround. The Work is a way to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering and violence in the world. The Work is a very, very simple process. It’s for anyone who can answer a question that is willing to. It takes a bit of willingness and an open mind.

LG: So, what are the questions?

BK: The first question is: Is it true? For example, if you had the thought that he doesn’t care about me, you would simply write that thought down, the thought that you’re assuming is true. And then you would question it, Is it true? Second question: Do you absolutely know that it’s true?—that he doesn’t care about you. Third question: What happens to your life, how do you react when you believe that thought? Or, as I like to say, how do you react when you think that thought? What happens?

LG: It seems that you are talking about an actual physical feeling, not just an emotion.

BK: Yes, just close your eyes and feel how you react when you think that thought. And then you begin to notice the feeling. I can’t stress this strongly enough to just see the reaction that happens. Also notice the images in your head that happen and out of those feelings and images, how you treat yourself. And then how you react toward others and your life and your business world, your family life, your private world; these are all reactions to the world that are created out of believing just this one simple concept or thought. The world begins with what we believe. And then the fourth question: Who would you be without that thought?

LG: In other words, how much are we identified with it?

BK: Well, actually, to sit still in the question, to notice all those images, just to see yourself in the marketplace, to see your life and just notice what it would be like without believing that thought—he doesn’t care about me.

LG: It seems like you keep catching me because my mind keeps kicking in. You’re talking more about being a silent witness to this, just observing.

BK: Yes. Because it’s meditation.

LG: So we are in a process of putting the light of consciousness on it.

BK: Absolutely. That’s very well said. Putting the light of consciousness on it.

LG: And then what happens, Katie?

BK: And then I like people to turn the concept around and ask what it would be like if it were the opposite; for example, if I have the thought that he doesn’t care about me, what would it be like if he did care about me? And the mind does not like that, because it’s contradicting what it believes and believing is how it stays identified with what it is—which is who you believe yourself to be. Just notice the feelings that happen and the resistance there. And just notice and continue to find examples that would lead you to believe that he actually does care. And then look at another opposite, which might be, I don’t care about him. And this can be very shocking. Then you might see that you have been just as unkind or even more unkind than he was. It’s really an eye-opener. So, that’s how to work the turnaround; finding the opposite examples. So four questions and a turnaround. I like to say The Work is: Judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, and turn it around.

LG: Yes, that would allow you to see different things. I know there’ve been times in my past, one relationship in particular—I swore up and down she didn’t like me, so obviously the relationship was not going to work. Later on in retrospect, with the advantage of hindsight, I realized that it wasn’t her who disliked me, I didn’t like her and I didn’t want to take responsibility for it.

BK: Oh, my goodness, yes. And that’s what The Work is about. Just because we love someone, we begin to notice that love is an experience and we have to do something with it. We don’t have to marry people or date them because we care about them very deeply. It’s an experience.

LG: It’s really nice to talk to you. It’s more like a workshop for me when I’m talking to you.

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