By Dr. Pedro Cortina, Managing Partner at the Innerland Institute
Originally published in Linkedin Publications
We have been socialized to be constantly on the go: movin’, shakin’, achievin’ and fixin’ anything and everything we can. For what purpose? Well, of course we could say for ourselves, for our families, for the world, even for the future. We may also say we do this in order to succeed, to be happy, to feel alive, or even to achieve inner congruency. Also, when we engage in this goal-reaching frenzy, we would generally tend to agree that giving up is basically unimaginable and is generally associated with defeat, depression, annihilation or even suicide.
It is important to scrutinize how this movin’, shakin’, achievin’ and fixin’ approach has actually served us so far. Are we there yet? Has it worked for you? Maybe you are one of the very few that can count themselves in a really selective and highly inaccessible club comprised of that 5 or even 10% of the entire human population that actually, and (way more importantly) honestly feel that things are really great, or that they have realized their true potential after all the hard work. Nevertheless, if you are part of the sincere remaining 90% who are still looking to find a way, please, allow me to present an alternative approach.
Surprisingly enough, “giving up” is actually not about defeat, depression, annihilation or suicide. When we truly, completely, and profoundly give up, we give up all payoff (and therefore there is no defeat), we give up all quarrel with life (and therefore there is no depression), we give up all defense (and therefore there is no fear of annihilation), and we give up all self-doubt (and therefore there is also no need to consider suicide).
Contrary to what we generally may believe,giving up, in the most essential of its expressions, actually leaves us open and in contact with the exquisite and always unique present moment.
Truly giving up is a process by which we profoundly surrender to life as it is happening every instant. When we do this, there is absolutely no expectation of something happening that is actually not already happening. Period. This is a truly profound, exciting, peaceful, active and engaging model by which to live our human existence. Interestingly enough, as we actually “give up”, our options counter-intuitively widen instead of narrow, we become more connected instead of more absent, we naturally become compassionate and understanding as well as inclusive, grounded, active and wholeheartedly driven.
In order to do this though, we need to gently realize that our source of suffering in life does not originate from outside phenomena (even if we are really convinced about this some times), but rather, that suffering in our life actually originates from our own interpretation of these exact same phenomena.
In essence, if we look at it deeply enough we will clearly realize that suffering is an inside job.
We also need to understand that absolutely all attempts to fix, transform, improve, or conquer our internal suffering through manipulating our internal experience will definitely not work. They may certainly improve things for a while or get our juices going. We may certainly get some of the results we want, or achieve some of the goals we set up for a while, nevertheless, sooner or later this profoundly innocent and well-intended effort will end up crumbling in front of our very eyes. Why? Simply because as we fight our internal negative experiences with internal positive experiences, we are actually inadvertently strengthening a future relapse of the same negative experiences we are fighting without even noticing we are doing so.
A good analogy for this phenomenon is to imagine our internal world as if it were a full-fledged 3D virtual reality video game. In this video game you would be able to find the traditional “good guys” (presented in this case as happiness, joy, contentment, growth, or trust) in a constant battle and struggle against the usual “bad guys” (sorrow, sadness, dissatisfaction, stagnation and doubt). The very peculiar and strangely interesting part of this analogical video game model is that in this virtual space, the more the good guys fight the bad guys, the stronger the bad guys become and vice versa. In this virtual reality, this constant fighting ends up generating an apparently endless pendular cycle of happiness conquering suffering just for suffering to come back and conquer happiness once again. This seemingly endless pendular loop is also generally experienced as a continuum accompanied by insecurity, apprehension and affliction with highlights of fleeting joy and contentment, counterbalanced with periods of suffering and uncertainty throughout our life. Sounds familiar?
We also seem to be convinced of the need to finally achieve a truly hopeful and definitive positive outcome “the next time around”. We do this based on the premise that if we try really, really hard the next time, if we finally discover the hidden secret to defeat our suffering for good, then this next fight will certainly be the last one. The fight to end all fights! It would be the fight that decisively conquers and attains this elusive sense of peace and understanding that we have been longing for. Sadly, the result is that while enduring this sincere and tenacious effort to conquer our own internal pain, the legions of doubt, resentment and insecurity inadvertently and unsuspectedly become enhanced and fuelled as a result of this same fight. Oh such paradox!
A way to resolve this profound existential conundrum is to gently and compassionately “give up” and open up to what would be essentially counter-intuitive in this regard: instead of fighting, allowing; instead of defending, surrendering; instead of constructing, deconstructing; instead of strategizing; trusting; instead of fixing, appreciating things as they are; and instead of wanting what we do not have, actually and honestly finding the exquisite beauty that is already there for us.
As we move along in our quest towards “giving up” it is paramount to understand that this tendency to “fix” our own internal experience as well as to “fix” the internal experience of others is a profoundly innocent and deeply ingrained part of our identity or our sense of self.
It is also truly important to understand that this process needs as much patience, compassion and understanding on our part as humanly possible.
In my experience, the best possible way to move forward is through engaging with a truly precise, effective and transformational methodology. A methodology designed to engage in a process of questioning and reframing the thoughts that are the source of this apparently endless and contradictory cycle of suffering. A methodology that would allow us to gently but consistently move from rigidity and tension towards openness, clarity and understanding. For me, this methodology, without a single doubt, is The Work of Byron Katie.
The Work of Byron Katie is indeed a simple yet profoundly effective and razor-sharp method of inquiry that allows ourselves to address the thoughts that cause and strengthen our reiterative cycles of suffering. When we practice The Work of Byron Katie we do four basic things:
1. We inquire: We invite ourselves to seriously and genuinely question the validity and reliability of the premises and thoughts that cause our suffering.
2. We allow: We permit ourselves to examine the far-reaching implications and the huge personal cost that is derived from holding these thoughts as consistently and inflexibly real. We do this not with the aim to attack our thoughts, transform them, attempt to dispose of them, or to win over them. Rather, we allow ourselves to explore these thoughts with the aim of offering a space to hold them while we bequest them with our deep understanding.
3. We open up: We sincerely explore the possibilities that would genuinely arise when experiencing life without the particular limiting beliefs that bind us and that we are now questioning.
4. We act: We engage, connect and participate in this world with clarity, insight and spontaneity. We do so in new and unforeseen ways that were previously not available to us and that now are true, wholehearted, peaceful, inclusive, compassionate and life-giving.
As we practice The Work of Byron Katie we actually “give up” in a way where we genuinely, wholeheartedly, and honestly stop working against ourselves. We finally end the self-sustainment and self-enhancement of our own suffering. This “giving up” is a giving up that allows for profound space to manifest in our lives. An exquisite space that finally allows for life, clarity, compassion, spontaneity, efficiency, action, connection and understanding to now become the natural radiating essence of our minds. In this way, we can slowly and gently continue to “give up” in a way in which our apparent darkness will end up becoming the same space where infinite light naturally and spontaneously joins who we truly are.
To learn more about The Work of Byron Katie, please visit thework.com or visit our website at innerland.com. If you are interested in bringing The Work into your organization as a leadership development tool or as a clarifying methodology to address foundation obstacles and team perceptional limitations, please feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Pedro Cortina is the Managing Partner at the Innerland Institute www.innerland.com. He is an author, speaker, counselor, facilitator, trainer, transformation specialist and leadership consultant. He is the author of Curflexion: Living the Infinite Space of Being, a guide for moving away from our underlying human experience of separation and unfulfillment.
ABOUT THE INNERLAND INSTITUTE
We specialize in working within the grounding realm of individuals, teams and organizations. This is the space where intangible internal impediments such as defeating beliefs, assumptions, mindset, preconceptions and blind spots can seriously get in the way of our passion, purpose, and direction.
Our approach is tailored considering the nature and complexity of each situation. Our methodologies are based on profoundly effective and proven approaches of inquiry and facilitation such as The Work of Byron Katie and Philosophical Counseling. Our objective is to transform any impediment into a clear opportunity, with a clear course of action.