I often yearn for great stretches of uninterrupted hours to write.
I fantasize about losing myself for the morning or the whole day, even, writing and plotting and creating and planning.
I even find myself with a dedicated hour, which in this hectic life seems like a luxury.
I’m deep into my piece, the words are flowing, I’m tapped into the flow. Until I’m interrupted. Paula knocks on the door, doesn’t stop to say excuse me or do you have a minute. Starts talking about her plans.
The creative flow stops.
I give her The Look. I sigh loudly. This isn’t the first time this has happened.
A great time for a Byron Katie Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet.
I’m angry at Paula because she keeps me from writing. It helps to think of this specific situation, not just an “all the time” thing, so I’ll reword this a bit.
I’m angry at Paula because she interrupted me as I was writing. That’s more specific. I’m going to stay here in this moment when she interrupted me and fill out the worksheet.
There are six questions to answer on the judge your neighbor worksheet. (Download a copy at thework.com.) For each question you can put all your thoughts, so you can generate a lot of statements.
I’ve found the more intense my feelings, the more I write down here.
For this specific situation my six statements answered on the worksheet are:
- I’m angry at Paula because she interrupted me.
- I want Paula to tell me whatever it is when we’re already together.
- Paula should respect my time.
- To be happy I need Paula to respect my time.
- Paula is unsupportive, disrespectful, selfish, and an energy vampire.
- I don’t ever want to be interrupted by Paula again.
Now that I’ve got my six thoughts, I go to the top and ask the four questions. “Judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around,” says Byron Katie.
Statement #1: I’m angry at Paula because she interrupted me. Is it true?
Yes. I was writing, she knocked on the door, she interrupted. And yes, I’m angry. For that.
Can I absolutely know it’s true? As I get still, even as I’m answering yes to questions #1, I see that I could have continued writing and ignored Paula, so technically she didn’t interrupt me. I stopped and interrupted myself. So maybe I’m not angry at Paula, I’m angry at me and my stopping.
Okay, so can I absolutely know I’m angry at Paula for interrupting me? No.
How do I react when I believe the thought, I’m angry at Paula for interrupting me?
I stop writing. A rush of irritation runs up my back. My face feels flush. I give her The Look.
Who or what would I be without the thought, I’m angry at Paula for interrupting me? I’d be calm. I’d look at Paula with a normal face, maybe even a smile.
Turnaround #1: I’m not angry at Paula for interrupting me. Could that be just as true? I think so. I’m starting to think it isn’t Paula I’m angry at, it’s me for stopping.
Turnaround #2: I’m angry at myself for interrupting me. Yes, I interrupted me. Paula just stood there, knocked, talked. But she didn’t come to my hands and stop them typing. She didn’t stop the thoughts of my writing in my mind. I stopped my hands, I stopped focusing on my words, and moved my focus to her words.
Turnaround #3: I’m angry at myself for interrupting Paula. Hmm, how did I interrupt Paula? I didn’t really focus on her while she was talking, I focused on my anger and my thinking about her. So that’s a way I interrupted her. I was short with her when I answered, interrupting the time and attention I could have given her.
Statement #2: I want Paula to tell me whatever it is when we’re already together.
Is it true? Yes. I like talking to Paula when I’m not trying to write.
Can I absolutely know it’s true? Yes. (See how sometimes the answer to these two questions really is yes? There is no “right” answer here. You’re looking for your truth inside.)
How do I react when I believe this thought? I’m impatient with Paula. I feel stressed. Oh, I see that I go to past/future. I see Paula and me together talking, both in the past and in the future. And I see her telling me stuff and it’s all fine and doesn’t bother me. I wish to be in the future where Paula tells me the thing, whatever it is, instead of here now when she actually is telling me the thing.
Who would I be without the thought? I’d be listening to Paula. I’d be present, kind. I’d be unstressed.
And now I see that when I asked, Can I absolutely know that it’s true that I want Paula to tell me what it is when we’re already together?, the answer is actually, No. Because we are already together right now when she’s speaking to me and I don’t want her to tell me whatever it is. Wow. Interesting.
Turnaround #1: I don’t want Paula to tell me whatever it is when we’re already together. Yes, now I see that I really don’t want it. We’re here together and I don’t want her telling me.
Turnaround #2: I want me to tell myself whatever it is when we’re already together. Okay, I see how this is true. I wasn’t being honest inside when Paula and I were together. I didn’t tell myself the truth. And I want to tell myself the truth.
Turnaround #3: I want me to tell Paula whatever it is when we’re already together. Oh, wow, this one is both true and hard. What I really want is the courage to tell Paula my truth in that moment when we’re together. That my priority and focus in that moment is writing and ask if I can come talk to her when I’m finished.
But maybe if I’m not all stressed and believing Paula is the source of my anger but see that my own thinking is the source of my anger, then I’ll be able to tell her that. I can try it and see.
Statement #3: Paula should respect my time.
Is it true? No. Should is a sign pointing to reality. The reality is that Paula is doing whatever she is doing, no should about it. Paula should be disrespecting my time because that’s what she does. How do I know she should be doing that? Because she does. The cat meows, the dog barks, as Katie says, and Paula disrespects my time.
How do I react when I believe this thought, Paula should respect my time? I feel stressed and angry. I feel put upon and the victim. I get in Paula’s business about how she should be behaving. Be respectful, I tell her in my head. I’m over in her business and not in my business and now I feel lonely.
Who would I be without the thought, Paula should respect my time? I don’t have to drop the thought, I’m just imagining me in front of Paula, she’s talking to me, I stopped writing.
If I stop the resistance to the reality, who would I be? Just me, standing there. Accepting Paula being how she is.
I even feel kindness toward her, all excited about what she wants to tell me. I see her not being disrespectful but being excited. I appreciate Paula’s excitement about things.
I didn’t a minute ago, but now a little ray of appreciation is peeking through my mind. It feels kind of nice.
Turnaround #1: Paula should not respect my time. True because she didn’t. That was the reality.
Turnaround #2: I should respect my time. Ah. Yes, I should respect my time. Not waste it worrying about what Paula should be doing. Not waste it complaining about Paula. Respect it by doing the Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet, as I’m doing now. This is respectful of my time.
Thank you, Paula, for helping me respect myself by doing a worksheet!
Turnaround #3: I should respect Paula’s time. This is true. I can be kind and respectful in that moment, respect Paula’s time that she is spending here with me. Give her my full attention, either with explaining my priority (to write) or fully listening, whichever is more true for me.
Statement #4: To be happy I need Paula to respect my time.
Is it true? No. I see above I don’t really need that. I can be happy even when she’s interrupting me if I’m not believing my thoughts about it.
Other than what I’m thinking and believing am I okay in that moment? Yes. Believing my thoughts is where I’m suffering, unhappy. I can be happy when I inquire into my thinking. Regardless of what Paula is doing.
Turnaround #1: I don’t need Paula to respect my time. True, I can be happy in my own mind, whether Paula respects my time or not. I decide my happiness.
Turnaround #2: I need myself to respect my time. So, this sounds true, but I’m not sure exactly how in this moment, I need to respect my time. Possibly I need to just sit with this and feel respect for myself and the time I spend writing.
Maybe this is about me speaking up and asking Paula to come back at a time that works better for me.
Are there other times I’m disrespectful of my time when it comes to writing? Possibly. I may have a One Belief at a Time Worksheet in my future with this one.
Turnaround #3: I need myself to respect Paula’s time. True. I don’t know what Paula’s schedule is like.
Maybe now was truly the best time for her to tell me what she had to tell me. I’m not Paula so I can’t know. But I can be respectful of her and listen. And maybe it won’t take long at all.
Statement #5: Paula is unsupportive, disrespectful, selfish, and an energy vampire.
How do I react when I believe these thoughts? I avoid Paula. Even when she’s standing right in front of me, I send off negative “leave me alone” vibes.
I scowl at her. Sigh. A lot. My guard goes up.
I go to past/future and see her bothering me and me trying to get away. Forever hounded by Paula’s need for attention. I imagine years of being interrupted by Paula.
Paula is generous. Yes, she’s always trying to give people food. She loves to share stories about people she knows. She’s generous with her time when people need something. Actually, even in this specific moment I’m looking at, she was giving me her time, talking about something she thought I wanted to know about.
I’m certainly not right here looking at and really seeing Paula. Or myself.
Turnaround #1: Paula is supportive. Yes, she is really helpful at times, especially if there’s a problem to be solved.
Paula is respectful. Yes, there was the time she let me vent to her about a work project that was stressing me out. That was respectful.
Paula is the opposite of “an energy vampire.” So that might be Paula energizes people. Hmm, yes, I can see how she does that in certain situations. Mostly with her own family, she’s often encouraging and helping her parents, which energizes them.
In a way she energized me, motivating me to do a worksheet. Which I like doing.
Turnaround #2: I am unsupportive. Yes, in the moment that Paula started talking to me, I was not being supportive of her.
I am disrespectful. True, I disrespected Paula by getting in her business mentally and telling her what she should be doing. I was unkind in the moment.
I am selfish. True, in that moment I was selfish with my attention and kindness.
I am an energy vampire. Hmm, where in that moment was I being an energy vampire? To Paula? No, I see it. My thinking was being an energy vampire, sucking my own energy away from me in that moment. Wow, that’s a surprise.
Statement #6: I don’t ever want to be interrupted by Paula again.
Turnaround: I am willing to be interrupted by Paula again. True. I might have the chance to say “can I come find you when I’m finished writing? I only have a limited time to work on this.” Or I might stand in kindness accepting Paula as she is and appreciating her excitement and idea and how much it looks like it means to her. Secure in my own ability to get back on focus when she leaves.
Turnaround: I look forward to Paula interrupting me again. True, because when she does, even in my mind, I can take a worksheet and find myself, my patience, my kindness, for Paula and for myself.
And if I the memory of this event interrupts me during my writing, or at any other time, I can write it down, and turn it around.
I like the Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet for clearing up negative stressful thoughts about others because it’s so effective at questioning those negative thoughts. And having freedom from judgement gives me clarity and helps me focus.
What are things others do that affect your writing or focus or clarity? Share in the comments below.
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