on December 28, 2003
This book doesn't tell you what's what. It has no real philosophy in it. It simply gives you a simple way to discover your own truth.
I was very skeptical about even reading this book. Somehow I ordered it and it sat around in my collection of thousands of books. I was searching for a "spiritual solution" to my feeling terrible and this was one of many books I ordered.
Then one day, in emotional pain, I picked it up after reading many others. I started reading it.
I read and re-read. I went each chapter again and again and again.
A year and a half later, it is the only self-help book that I really care about. I have done "The Work" many many times and made it a part of me. I have purchased audio tapes of other people doing The Work.
My wife has asked me for help in The Work and my son also.
Here is what has happened to me: I suffer much less. I view every challenge in life as an opportunity for deeper self-realization. I am more comfortable with myself and my life. Things bother me less and less.
Bottom line: I am more in love with the truth than I ever was. I am still less than honest but I am more honest than I was, and loving the truth more and more as time goes on.
The truth does appear to set me free. Reading this book can help you see the truth for you. If you are interested then read this book.
on November 18, 2014
Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes, but one of the key components of suffering is often fear. I have often experienced fear and anxiety in a variety of situations, even though I knew my worries were unfounded and irrational. I often ruminated on my problems to the point where I felt like I was constantly having an anxiety attack. I turned to things like alcohol and other drugs to keep my mind off the problem at hand, but that only delayed the inevitable. When I would sober up, the problem was still there and I would have not made any progress on solving it. This book details a simple, step-by-step guide on how to go through "The Work" toward healing and ending suffering. It has literally been a lifesaver for me. It is practical and actionable, and I use these methods in my everyday life.
I also found 21 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. It is a book that is just as practical and actionable as Loving What Is, but it takes a slightly different approach. It posits that giving up concepts and ideas is the best way to achieve happiness. Using advice in this book along with "The Work," I have been able to clear my head and focus on my goals. I no longer worry about what other people think, and I've started planning my life more around concrete goals and less around the aimless wander. 21 Thing You Should Give Up To Be Happy talks about the "aimless wander" as one thing you should give up. My anxiety was always on high alert, but it didn't need to be!
I'm glad I found these two books, because I've been to produce much more positive effects throughout my life. I am working toward my goals and my mind is more stress-free than it's ever been. Neither of these books offer new age mumbo jumbo. They are written by real people with real life experience who have been able to construct effective action plans that work for a wide variety of individuals. I am just one success story in a sea of others.
on June 14, 2003
I had a story. It wasn't a happy story. It was about an abusive childhoood. I wore that story like a pair of sunglasses. I saw my world through that story. I kept spoiling my present with those past experiences.
"The Work" a process contained in this book is the only system that allowed me to really get to the truth of my story - ah - the story under such examination just started dropping away.
This book is not in competition with any other. No other book can take its place. The niche is unique. In A Course in Miracles you are told forgiveness is the key but no one gives you a road map for how to do that - Byron Katies does. In The Power of Now Eckhardt Tolle tells us to be fully in the present moment and just be aware of the pain body - Byron Katie tells you to investigate that pain body so that it can drop away.
For me, this was the single best book that I've experienced that genuinely helped me...I went to A Course in Miracles classes for over 7 years - no real change - I read and am doing The Work in Loving What Is - major changes in two weeks....
I'm very thankful for this book, this work.
I'd like to say that now I wear sunglasses so that people won't be blinded by the light coming from my eyes...but that's stretching it a bit - I'm just a lot happier!
this would be it. I'm an ordained Christian minister, and I'd give out *this* book before the Bible itself. That's how powerful her simple approach IS. It is literally the key to end all suffering. Sounds too good to be true? It isn't. I have been a student of psychology, personality and spirituality ever since I was a young girl. I studied theology in college, minored in psychology, have dozens of self-help and self-discovery books on my shelves, been a student of cognitive psychology and Toltec Wisdom (ala "The Toltec Way" by Gregg and "The Four Agreements" by Ruiz)...
From these, I came to believe that my own thoughts create my own suffering. It's never the person or situation that causes me grief; it's the story I *tell* myself *about* the person or situation that is the problem! Yet, although I knew this intellectually, I had a hard time dismantling all my core beliefs and judgments. My intellect likes mind candy and the accumulating of knowledge, but it wasn't enough to put me over the edge to freedom.
But this book did. It is all the above disciplines combined, but MUCH more. I was having anxiety attacks and an irrational fear of death and dying; this book helped snap me out of it immediately (along with the grace of God). Loving What Is is not by a counselor or some New Age guru; it's by a normal woman who was on the floor of a half way house, feeling bitter and angry, who had an epiphany when she asked herself a series of 4 simple questions. Her depression lifted, and she was a new woman in ONE instant. Since then (1986) she has shared her message, and it's changed thousands of lives.
To see what The Work is about, visit her website at TheWork.com. This book is a life changer. The information it contains can replace all self-help books...it's that transformational. It's also an easy read, and very engaging. After all, she's just a "normal" woman like you and I who stumbled on 4 basic questions called Inquiry that will change your life forever.
If you are looking for answers to "why", are tired of feeling tired, angry, depressed, alone, cheated, sad, or confused, please get this book today.
on September 8, 2007
Overall, Byron Katie's message and life work is about taking responsibility, beginning with self-inquiry. So I enthusiastically read and listened to her work. However, I was MORTIFIED when in middle of listening to Disk 6, an adult woman was crying so bitterly about her step-father raping her as a little girl, on her birthday. Byron then guides the adult survivor to say/repeat after her, that SHE was the one who did not love her step-father, despite the horrific, heartbreaking details this adult survivor just revealed. She told this young woman who could not stop crying, on stage and in front of a public audience, being recorded, that she was to BLAME for her abuse, because she was not "loving" to her perpetrators when she pushed him away/did not hug or kiss him as he raped her in the car, while on his lap. She was between the ages of 5-7. See for yourself on Disk 6. This made my stomach turn, as this is abhorrent, WRONG, and part of "blame the victim" mentality. The guilt, shame, and responsibility of sexually abusing children is ALWAYS on the shoulders of the perpetrators - never ever should it be on the child. The child is weak. The adult is powerful. EVEN if the child "allowed" themselves to be raped for "love" - this is rape. Children who are in these situations have to comply or risk the unknown consequences. This is not "allowing" anything - it is survival. Sexual perpetrators use the manipulative move of "projecting" their own self-hatred, shame, and blame on the victim, so they themselves don't have to feel it. Anyone that is aware of anything I just mentioned, and is genuinely compassionate, would NEVER blame a child for their own rape.
Byron is not a competent, licensed mental health practitioner, properly trained and qualified to handle sexual trauma as it is awakened in a survivor. She took 4 questions, and made it her mission to spread the word about self-responsibility and self-inquiry. That is fine. Just don't talk about a very delicate subject you are not properly trained and educated to handle. She should do the right thing, and pull this product from the market, since it is painfully misleading. Sexual abuse survivors blame themselves: for what happened, for not being able to stop it, and for all the failures and weakness they feel stems for this. Imagine a survivor who does not have the ego strength, education, or resources to know differently, and they listen to this. Do you think this survivor needs any MORE guilt, blame, or self-rejection?
In my book: "Trauma and Transformation: A 12-Step Guide", I fully explore the spiritual side-effects of trauma, and how the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is a powerful systematic approach for the trauma survivor seeking a spiritual solution.
-Rivka Edery, L.M.S.W
Author of: [...]
Available from: ]
on August 4, 2002
This may be the first self-help book I've ever read all the way through. I was attracted to it by the name "Stephen Mitchell" on the cover. His paraphrase/translation of the Tao te Ching was my previous Most Influential Book. In his introduction we learn that Byron Katie is his wife. They appear to share a sort of Zen/Taoist outlook.
The tag line on the cover of the book reads "Four questions that can change your life." I like the use of the word "can." It's not that the questions "could" or "may" or "might" change your life: they "can" if you use them. I know because my life has changed.
But it's not just the questions that have changed my life. Rather, it's the outlook expressed in the book's title: "Loving What Is." My suffering comes from arguing with my reality. Peace comes from accepting and even loving my reality, whatever my situation.
on December 2, 2011
I love self help books. I devour them. This book was confusing to me. Not because I am not smart enough to grasp Katies' techniques, but because her ideas are so over the top and ridiculous.
I knew I was done with the book when I read about her babysitting her 2 little boy nephews (i think). The one bigger boy likes to hit, but that is just who he is and that is his way. She allowed him to hit the smaller boy and never did anything to stop the boy from hitting. She then went on to say that the smaller boy that was on the receiving end of the hits said that he liked it. WTF?
If the older boy were to take out a butcher knife from the kitchen and start to stab the smaller boy, Katie would allow this to happen because this is "his way." This is not her business this is the boys business. This is who he is.
This is what I don't understand.
The lessons I learned reading this book were;
#1) Check book out from library next time.
#2) Never let Katie Byron babysit my children.
on October 1, 2003
You know the serenity prayer, "God grant me the grace to accept what I cannot change, to change what I cannot accept, and the wisdom to tell the difference"? This book is a thousand times longer, and only gets a through a tiny part of the prayer. It could really be boiled down to one word: "Accept!". I certainly agree that acceptance is a useful tool for finding inner peace, but the author is holding a hammer and nailing down everything in sight.
I have a basic philosophical problem with her premise. I believe that vulnerability to others and suffering are a fundamental, and sometimes valuable, part of human existence. My fiance was murdered, and I grieve tremendously for him. I don't want to suffer for the sake of it, but my guess is that Rophie would tell me that I don't need to be sad at all. In my opinion, this is not only ridiculous, it's unhealthy. It's human nature to object to loss, and to pretend otherwise ultimately impedes healing. Rophie claims that you shouldn't need anything from other people, that you can give it all to yourself. I say bollocks! We are biologically designed to need each other. Babies who aren't held and loved can't thrive, and it's not because they're telling themselves sad stories.
Like other reviewers, I found her claims of "open inquiry" disingenuous. It was clear in every transcript that she was steering her client to an answer she'd decided upon herself. The author also implies that there's no possibility of healthy disagreement with her perspective. Either you see things her way, or you're unready for "The Work."
I've edited my review because on reflection, this is the biggest problem I have with the book. When you're writing a spiritual book, particularly a book about personal reality, you really ought to make room for the possibility that there might be other approaches that work as well or better for different people. Stating that your book is the end-all, be-all and implying that anyone who isn't helped just isn't doing it right doesn't jibe with that darned "open inquiry" thing. I find it a little amusing that this attitude is reflected by a lot of her fans too. Many positive reviews here openly say that if you don't love this book, there's something wrong with you. How's that for enlightenment? The only thing that really helped me get through the death of my love was group therapy. Some people in the group left it because they didn't find it helpful. One friend of mine cured his depression by becoming a devoted student of Tai Chi. Different things work for different people. THAT'S what an open mind is, not insisting that what worked for you works for the rest of the world.
As for the person who criticized another reviewer for not reading every line in the book: my hat's off to those of you who could. The parts that weren't offensively smug were horrifically dull. She says her book ENDS suffering? I've had more fun reading tax forms.
I will say that several people I respect say this book changed their lives, so it may have value for the new reader. Just make sure you give it a good once over in the bookstore before you fork over your cash.
on September 18, 2012
I bought the book years ago and threw it away in disgust the moment I finished it. But upon hearing some good critiques about it recently, I thought I'd give the author another chance and bought the audio book, just in case I had missed the message the first time. Boy, this is even worse! Once more, the author comes across to me as such an absurd and arrogant person! Already her pompous, monotonous tone of voice is extremely irritating, but if you add to that her ridiculous and simplistic approach to the subject, it's hard to believe she can be considered seriously by anybody. What saddens me the most, though, is the way she treats the beautiful people that come to her for help. She's rude, interrupting them continuously, she ridicules what they say (since when should a parent not tell his child that lying is wrong? Since when is it objectionable to tell your boyfriend you expect him to be monogamous? Is your child's suffering really "none of your business"? Should a sensitive teenager be made to feel bad for trying to get his family to accept him as he is?) and all she offers in the end is a preposterous philosophy that goes against all logic. I'm sincerely happy for all those whom her approach may have helped, but it's beyond my understanding why so many people seem to be captivated by her. The only explanation that comes to my mind is that it's very hard for humans to speak up and say "the emperor has no clothes". Then again, I may be the one who is in the wrong. Maybe she's really great and I just don't grasp it. Just in case, I apologize in advance to all those whom my review may offend. Sincerely, all the best to each one of you.
on December 10, 2009
It has been said that the difference between dangerous bull and merely obnoxious bull is that dangerous bull contains enough truth in it to be deceptive. While I certainly wouldn't label Byron Katie's ("BK" from now on) ideas as "bull," the same idea applies here: BK's book deftly mixes important truths and what seems to be a helpful method with amateurish and potentially dangerous ideas, which makes the book more worrisome than any deranged rantings about reptilians and time cubes.
The book elaborates extensively on one idea which certainly will be no secret to anyone acquainted with Eastern Philosophy or Shakespeare (recall Hamlet's line that "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so") - that pain is caused, not by our relationship with the world around us, but by the way we think about it - and then introduces a method which BK calls "the work" for re-evaluating our thoughts and providing ourselves with inner peace.
The idea which provides the foundation for the method presented in this book is true enough, validated by personal examples and scientific evidence for centuries. The power of the human mind over our bodies is truly impressive, and potentially terrifying when something goes wrong up there, as anyone who knows a schizophrenic or a victim of phantom leg syndrome can attest.
The major problem with BK's view of life boils down to the fact that this isn't the only true proposition about human beings. Her flighty idealism evinces a poor understanding of human biology. It is true that hormonally stable, neurotypical individuals can indeed solve most of their petty day-to-day irritations by controlling their minds, but most of what determines our behavior and thinking (as she notes in the book, if we're not making a concentrated effort at it, we are nothing thinking so much as being thought) happens on a hidden biological level. BK treats conscious re-thinking (my own term for what she'd call "the work") as the great Key to Happiness -- fine to tell to a fairly normal individual, but not so much to an individual whose problems lie on a deeper level and who requires medical intervention in order to lead a tolerable existence.
She also seems fairly ignorant of basic human psychology, which we have found to be fairly uniform in its workings throughout different cultures and the great well of time -- one reason why we can read the writings of a Japanese noblewoman in 11th century Japan and still relate to the content on some basic, primal level. I don't think she'd debate this point (she probably tell me that people have been making the same mistakes since the beginning of time, and that this in no way invalidated her point, and she'd be correct). I bring this up because, in the same way that human thought is largely homogeneous throughout history, so too are the ways in which we deal with life. Pain and suffering are normal and healthy reactions to trauma and heartbreak. There is no quick fix for really deep scars. Only time and living can heal the most debilitating emotional wounds and allow us to return to a state of relative equilibrium. Just as the body has a method for dealing with wounds, so does the mind.
This is the point where BK loses me: she holds that ALL pain can be eradicated by "the work." She lives in a Mcworld of instant gratification where pain instantly dissolves in the solvent of inquiry and a healthy individual can live his or her own life without ever having to be exposed to suffering. To her, pain is an illusion, and all one needs to do is install this filter of four questions in one's head in order to to be left with nothing but the chewy bits at the end.
What a bloodless world she inhabits! Pain and pleasure are degrees of differentiation that are comprehensible only in relation to the other. Not only is pain necessary in healthy psychological healing, it is also what allows for sympathy and compassion. It is not only methodologically wrong, but also teleologically undesirable. I have no doubt that BK is honest in her feelings and observations: she seems, in fact, brutally honest about what it would be like to talk to her. It is the same in all her books. There is an observation in another one - "A Thousand Names for Joy" - that would serve well as an illustration. When she bumped into friends of her mother (they hadn't seen her mother in years), they asked BK how she was doing. BK's response? "She's wonderful. She's dead." Who wants to live in a world with people like this, who have no regard for the feelings of others?
I'm sure if one escapes into BK's Neverland of complete emotional disengagement that one might be able to avoid, temporarily, the hard pangs that come with serious emotional trauma. One can likely become a robot who pays loads of money for her seminars and training camp and fend off the ravages of emotion for a certain length of time. Perhaps so long as one is being exploited by her cultish public offerings. But, eventually, these BK-bots will want to open themselves up to life again, and they're going to have to sort through the inevitable emotional wreckage which BK's influence will have resulted in.
This ethical objection to her philosophy is what animates most of the outrage directed at a couple of interviews in her book, where she 'counsels' war and molestation victims. Others have elaborated on this portion of the book so thoroughly that it would be pointless to do so myself. I believe I have made my own reasoning on these clear.
She frequently (always briefly) speculates on philosophical matters throughout the book. These portions are always boorish and amateur, and the idealism here is only a Western watering-down of the obtuse metaphysics of Eastern traditions.
The method itself uses four questions to help practitioners re-evaluate their own thoughts. The idea is that our pains and grievances are warped and unreal projections of perceived deficiencies in ourselves. She has a person first fill out a "Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet," which makes the person elaborate in petty and often excruciating detail the problems they have with someone else (BK advises beginning practitioners to always focus on the Other in order to allow for reflective honesty, since it reflects the person doing the judging anyhow). After they do this, she has them run each complaint through a series of four questions:
1) Is it true?
2) Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3) How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4) Who would you be without the thought?
As they proceed through these questions, people (always weaker-willed than the VERY strong-willed BK) are inexorably led to the conclusion that their complaint's truth-value is unknowable and that it is only wreaking havoc on their emotional lives. They are then instructed to 'turn it around,' which means to reverse the focus of the question in some manner. This can be achieved in multiple ways. As a simple example, the complaint "[x] doesn't love me" could be turned around to become "I don't love myself." This is following BK's notion that all of our judgments ultimately reflect something about ourselves.
A common complaint by critics is that even when BK tells people that she is not directing the flow of the inquiry, she very obviously is. This is a legitimate complaint. BK all but leads some of these people around by the nose while telling them that she isn't leading them anywhere.
I make this sound manipulative. Well, it is manipulative. So is ANY form of rhetoric or directed questioning. The problem lies in her dishonesty about this matter with her (I use this term loosely) 'patients.'
If Byron Katie is a bad ethicist and metaphysician, she is, at least, a skilled epistemologist. She says that her method works for eliminating normal stress from one's life, and from what I've seen (and personally experimented with), this seems to be true enough. BK must be credited for this.
There are various other complaints. For instance, she sounds flagrantly condescending with her liberal use of endearments ("honey," "dear," "sweetheart," etc.). But these things can mostly (like my example) be boiled down to simple personal eccentricity which admits of no moral evaluation.
I'm afraid I've rather made the woman sound bad. But there is a reason I've given this book three stars. Her method is fine for day-to-day aggravations, and many could perhaps benefit from gaining an extra element to their personal perspective by reading this book. But don't swear by it to the point where you become a creepy self-involved sociopath who is unable to relate to other humans on any important level.