Who Would You Be Without Your Story?
Who would you be without your story that you as
a man should do this or that? Who would you be
without your story about what you need, what it
should look like? Who would you be without your
story that begins with Im just this
way or Ive always been this
One of the things I seem to continue to bump
into are my stories, read beliefs, about who I
really am and what I am here on earth for. Some of
my current personal narrative, quite a lot really,
is about helping myself and others lead a
passionate and purposeful life. And getting to do
exactly what I want most of the time, and on my
time. That all feels good and I want to keep that
the main theme.
There are other stories and beliefs though that
when they arise trigger unwanted feelings with
physical contraction and tightness I can call pain.
And when these stories continue looping through my
brain, the pain and suffering can be prolonged.
Often these stories consist of characters in my
past and present I feel at odds with or have
judgment about, situations where things just did
not go well and continued in that direction. Since
the past is no more, its only my thoughts
about and interpretation of a situation, right or
wrong, real or imagined that continue to haunt me
and steal my energy. Other stories are about what
may happen in some future. In this kind of story or
thought train I am anticipating a negative or
destructive future that just does not exist.
That puts me in mind of the famous American
humorist and author Mark Twain who was quoted as
saying, I am an old man and have known a
great many troubles, but most of them never
So how does one keep that kind of thought train
from pulling into the same station time after time,
spewing toxic exhaust and making noise in
Recently I spent nine days with Byron Katie,
originator of a process she developed to pull
herself out of a deep depression and misery. Katie
co-wrote Loving What Is and I Need Your Love, Is
That True? as well as other literature helping
people all over the world question their thinking
that is causing them stress, pain, suffering and
separation. Three times a year she teaches a course
called The School for The Work, a school she says
is the school of wonderful wonderful
There, with a couple hundred other participants,
I spent time completely immersed in the process
known as The Work, questioning my thoughts and
thinking about different aspects of my life and
personality that irritate, provoke or trigger
irritations, resentments, disappointments and
expectations that have plagued me over time. When
engaged in with an open mind, this inquiry process
provided us a power lift up and away from the old
nags, a remarkable and transformative return to who
we really are when we take the time to examine
these thoughts that can separate us from or cause
us to lose sight of our essentially loving, whole,
exuberant, enthusiastic, creative and curious
And like other profoundly powerful processes I
use, it is amazingly simple and accessible to
anyone with half an open mind. Beginning with a
particular belief statement, one asks four
Is it true? Yes or No.
Can you absolutely know its true? Yes or
How do you react and what happens when you
believe the thought?
Who would you be without that thought?
After answering these four questions yourself or
having someone else ask you, you look for the
opposite of the belief or statement you are working
with and explore whether there is any truth or
evidence that would suggest it is true or truer
than the original statement.
Heres an example of a statement I was
recently questioning with one of my co-graduates of
the nine-day school.
Belief Statement: Sylvester (name changed to
protect the innocent) treated our friendship as a
1.) Is it true Sylvester treated our friendship
as a burden. Yes or No?
2.) Can you absolutely know that Sylvester
treated our friendship as a burden? Yes or No?
3.) How do you react and what happens when you
believe the thought that Sylvester treated our
friendship as a burden? How do you treat them? How
do you treat yourself?
I get a constriction in my throat. I feel anger,
sadness, and frustration. I dont make an
effort to communicate and separate myself from
Sylvester denying him my friendship. I judge myself
as less than evolved for not getting over it and
for judging him as the perpetrator when I am just
as responsible for the break.
4.) Who would you be without that thought that
Sylvester treated our friendship as a burden?
If I never had that thought I would be free to
focus on what was good about the friendship. I
would not hold my friend in contempt and might make
an effort to reach out. Id be emotionally
light and open.
After the four questions, one looks for a
Sylvester did not treat our friendship as a
I looked for and found many examples for how
that was true or truer than the original statement
that Sylvester treated our friendship as a
I treated our friendship as a burden.
I looked for and found some truth to this one as
I treated me as a burden.
Some turnarounds dont immediately make
sense until one recognizes that ones own
thinking can be a burden and in this case my
carrying around this thought about Sylvester was
truly weighing me down. I was burdening myself!
I can truly say that I felt differently and
thought differently after just this one session
doing The Work. Whether I take some action or not
is almost beside the point. The point, as Katie
says, is this.
You can take all this to your grave or you can
use inquiry (The Work) to lighten your load and
more fully enjoy every inch of your life, being
open to what Reality actually presents to us,
rather than holding on to and continuing to react
to painful images of the past, or anticipating a
scary or negative future that has not happened.
I strongly encourage any man open to it, to
explore the possibilities of doing The Work to gain
greater freedom and flexibility in life. Boys, as
well as men can be assisted in this process too as
another way to question the notions of masculinity
that cause harm and destruction in their daily
For more information about The Work, simply
You can watch the remarkably clear and loving
Katie doing The Work with others and download
enough free materials to get you started.
* * *
Crutcher has over three decades of experience as a
teacher, counselor, and community
organizer/builder. He is a personal and
professional development coach, facilitator, and
consultant to both large institutions and small
organizations in the public, private, and
non-profit sectors. He has done extensive work with
men and boys to become all they can be having
opened one of the first state grant funded
mens counseling centers in America. He
developed programs to assist men in learning
alternatives to violence, father and son workshops
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