The greatest gift a parent can give to a child is the gift of an open and stress-free mind. But of course to pass it on, you need to know how to do it yourself! How many of us can really say that we’ve got the whole ‘thought management’ thing licked? In the current economic climate, you might well believe that it’s pretty impossible not to feel stressed, hassled, fearful or downright depressed.

My work as an Intuitive Mentor and Healer uses a variety of techniques. However I have found that no progress can be made with clients until they learn how to think in a way that eliminates stressful and negative thinking. The core process I use with all clients, before going on to any kind of development or manifestation work, is known as The Work of Byron Katie. It is a very effective tool and once the grown-ups learn how to use it, they can really help to create a very different future for their children by teaching them how to apply it in their lives.

What is The Work?
The Work is a form of ‘thought surgery’. By questioning your thoughts, meeting them face on, then turning them around and opening your mind to look at what you are thinking from a few different angles, the original stressful or negative thought cannot hold its ground and just begins to dissolve.

So how does The Work work?
Unquestioned thoughts are like little children who believe in the monster under the bed.
Imagine your child has come running to you crying hysterically because they believe something scary is under the bed or in the wardrobe etc. What do you say to them? Is there any action you take? Do you just say to them ‘there’s nothing there, it’s not real, there are no monsters, they’re just in stories, now go back to bed’? Or do you also take them to the bedroom, turn the light on, show them inside the wardrobe or under the bed and demonstrate to them that the reality matches the words?
Most parents choose the second option as they have seen that it’s the option that works. But what happens as we grow up? We try to use the first option because that is the option society uses and yet this is the very option that we ourselves know will not work on a little kid!
Turning the light on and looking at what is really there is what The Work does. The part of our brain that creates stress and fear is just like a very young child. We have to lead it by the hand and shine a torch under the bed of ideas that it holds to prove to it that there is nothing there. Fear comes only from an imagined past or an imagined future, and all stressful and negative thinking is rooted in fear. We have an unbelievable ability to scare ourselves silly! However, when a stressful or negative thought is questioned, it dissolves the underlying beliefs and fears in the face of reality.

Doing The Work
First of all, think about who or what is stressing or frightening you most. Then write out all your negative and judgmental thoughts about the situation. Byron Katie’s website, has what she calls ‘Judge Your Neighbour’ worksheets and other resources that people can use to do this. And yes the first step is judgement! According to Katie: “For thousands of years we’ve been told not to judge, but we still do it all the time—how our friends should act, whom our children should care about, what our parents should feel, do, or say. In The Work, rather than suppress these judgments, we use them as starting points for self-realization. By letting the judging mind have its life on paper, we discover through the mirror of those around us what we haven't yet realized about ourselves.”

Now take the thoughts one at a time and apply the questioning process to them. The four questions are:

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?

Then turn the thought around and find three examples in your life of where you have experienced other angles of this thought.

For example let’s say the thought is: ‘She’s mean to me”

‘Is it true’ demands a yes or know answer. ‘Can you absolutely know that it's true?’ opens the first question out a bit more. Your mind is given the chance to consider - Can I really know absolutely? Can I absolutely know what’s behind someone else’s action or behaviour? Am I God?

Now ‘how do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought’ brings you to your feelings and reactions and NOT your ideas about it or your theories, your past history, or your own story about what happened.
So an example answer to: ‘She’s mean to me’: How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought that she’s mean to you?’ could be:
- I feel sad and tense and I get angry. I want to be mean back. It feels tight in my stomach and my heart. My fists clench and my teeth clench too. I stop looking in her eyes. I cry.

‘Who would you be without the thought’, asks the person to drop the thought for just one second and to see that even though nothing else has changed, the thought is suspended. The key here is to give this a bit of time and really let go of the thought, secure in the knowledge that you can have the thought back whenever you want!
Example: Who would you be without the thought that she is mean to you?
- I’d feel lighter, Free and more open. I’d feel relaxed in my body. I’d be nicer to her.

The next stage is to turn the thought around to its opposite, to the other person and to yourself.
For example, ‘She is mean to me’ turns around to:

I am mean to her
I am mean to me
I am kind to her
She is kind to me

And find three examples of situations where you have been mean to her, mean to yourself, kind to her and where she has been kind to you. If you look hard the examples will be there!

Working with Children
To use this with young children the four questions can be simplified, In taking a situation like ‘No one wants to play with me’ , you can soften the question so that your part of the dialogue could sound like:

1. No one wants to play with you, is that true?
2. Is that really, really true that no one wants to play with you? No one ever? I thought you played with Mary last week so is it really, really true that no one wants to play with you?
3. When you think that no one wants to play with you, you must feel sad. Do you? Tell me what that feels like for you and what you think about when you think no one wants to play with you. How do you treat your friends when you think they don’t want to play with you?
4. Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t think that no one wants to play with you. How would that feel?

While it’s better for older children and adults to come to their own turnarounds, with young children you can gently suggest situations that help them to move out of the original thought. In the example above you can offer suggestions such as: Mary wanted to play with you last week, can you think of other times when Mary wanted to play with you? And what about James, doesn’t he/she want to play with you sometimes, can you think of times when that happened? Aren’t there times when you don’t want to go to play with other children? Tell me about a few times when you didn’t want to play with them. And what about the times when you just really want to play on your own with your toys? Aren’t you a real person and don’t you just love playing with you sometimes?

It does take a bit of time and practice to really use this process, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature and the benefits are so worth the effort. As someone who uses this tool regularly with clients, I never fail to be amazed at how rapidly it works and how quickly a client can move on to really start working on what they want to achieve free of the energy drain of negative thoughts. Imagine then how much potential we unlock for children who learn to think in this way from a young age. Maybe when we feel that it’s all impossible, that it’s all too much and that we can’t change the world, we can instead look at how we can change our own selves and in turn our children. In that way we can affect change, one thought at a time.

Author's Bio: 

JM Hurley is a writer and healer. Her life changing book Dance with Life has brought thousands of people to an understanding of what it really means to be alive. She works with clients from all over the world, in person and on the phone and for more information on the various strategies she uses see