Byron Katie on the Turnaround in The Work

Byron Katie

Ray: Katie, why is the turnaround so important in The Work? Is it because it shows us other possibilities than our own judgmental thoughts?

Katie: Yes. It shows the mind what is as true or truer than the original thought. People usually find that the turnaround is as true or truer than the stressful thought they began with.

What’s an example? Let’s say the thought is “John should apologize.” Turned around: “I should apologize to John.” And if your mind is closed, you might not be able to see how that turnaround is true: “Me? But he’s the one who hurt me. He owes me the apology.”

Or: “I should apologize to John? Well, okay, I really did do this and that to him. But he deserved it!”

But if you’re really doing The Work, you’ll be able to see how every turnaround is true: “I should apologize to John. Let me do what I expect him to do. Let me get my own house in order here.”

Even more, you’ll find genuine examples of why apologizing to John is a good thing. And if you think it’s difficult for you to apologize, then you begin to understand why it’s so difficult for John to apologize to you.

Your job is to turn it around; to see what you have done, what your part is; and then to apologize and go back to that person and ask how you can make it right. Usually you don’t even have to ask—you know.

One thing about inquiry is that it is the end of gossip. It is the end of passing on negative thoughts about people. It is the end of talking about a world that’s so terrible.

Rather than making judgments like that, you begin to live in observations that can be worked with intelligently and changed and shifted.

I have an expression: “I’m in a hurry.” Of course, that’s not true in one sense. I have all the time in the world, because I have seen that there’s no such thing as time, or the world for that matter.

But what I mean is that it’s so easy to break through the suffering on this planet, if the mind is open to doing so. I just want to make this work available to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Everyone has a right to know it exists, and that’s my job.

I don’t want anyone to suffer the way I suffered before I found this work.

If you’re in a hurry, too, if you want enlightenment, it’s so simple when you really listen to people. For example, if someone says to me, “Katie, you’re wrong,” I immediately think, “Could she be right? Is it possible she’s right?”

I find it inside rather than attacking outward through my defense. I go inward, not outward, and realize for myself—self-realization—to see what’s true for me.

And I can say, “You know, you’re right. I just came to see that I’m wrong.” Or, if I can’t find it, I can say, “I’m not able to find that right now. I really believe I’m right. So, tell me, how am I wrong? I’m open to hearing your reasons. I really want to know.”

I’m standing there with a friend—no one is an enemy—who can give me information and really enlighten me. She can add to what I’ve got.

It doesn’t mean I’m going to lose or change what I’m believing. But I’ll have more information, so what I’m believing or not believing will be much more intelligent. Who knows? I could be wrong.

I love to not defend—ever—and to open my mind and receive what can always add to me, not take away from me.

So, if someone says, “Katie, you are out of order,” over something I’ve said, if I defend myself or justify myself, then I have just started the war.

If people say, “You’re wrong,” and you react with, “How dare you say that?” or, “No, I can prove that I’m right, and here’s why,” or, “No, you are wrong, and I think you’re rude”—and even if you don’t say it out loud, maybe you think it, and even that’s stressful—that’s the moment you’ve started the war.

Defense is the first act of war. I see that clearly.

*Read my full interview with the divine, shimmering Katie at and learn more about her at

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