Jane Lynch and Byron Katie Do “The Work”

Jane Lynch is the author of a new memoir, Happy Accidents. Byron Katie has written several books, which can be found on her Web site, TheWork.com. She also holds biannual school sessions, always in L.A., for those who want to master her method of self-inquiry. The next one is October 14 to 23.

Byron Katie: OK, give me a stressful thought.
Jane Lynch: I feel guilty that I can’t give my friend money.
BK: You can’t give your friend money. Is that true?
JL: No.
BK: That’s a great relief. Of course you can if you want. You are free. What happens when you think the thought, I can’t give money to my friend?
JL: I’m overwhelmed. I’m mad at him for asking. I fear the pattern I’m setting up.
BK: While you were answering that question, you were watching images of past and future. Stories that you’ve told yourself. But it’s only a movie. When you’re lost in the movie, the mind is busy with anticipation and remembering. Those are its tricks. OK, so turn it around. You can’t give your friend money? Obviously you can.
JL: My friend takes advantage of me.
BK: Now this is juicy. It’s possible to take advantage of you. Your friend is taking advantage of you. Is that true?
JL: Yes. Well, no.
BK: He calls. He asks for money. He begs. He pleads. It doesn’t matter what he does. “He is taking advantage of you.” Is it true?
JL: No.
BK: No. He’s asking for money. He wants money from you. Is he taking advantage? No. He’s asking. How do you react when you think the thought, He’s taking advantage of me?
[Lynch shudders.]
BK: That’s it. And suddenly you don’t want to see him anymore. You don’t want to hear his voice anymore. You feel guilty. There’s shame. So now close your eyes and imagine the situation: He’s asking you on the phone or in person for money. Look at his face. Who would you be without the thought, He’s taking advantage of me?
JL: This is someone who’s really helped me out in the past—taken care of things in my life, gone places for me when I was too busy. Doing it out of the goodness of his heart. I never paid him for it. It was a friend thing. But I feel I’ve been a good friend to him, too.
BK: Just then you moved away from the inquiry we are doing. “I have been kind to him in the past as well.” Right now we’re looking at your assertion that he is taking advantage of you. Let’s turn it around: Can you tell me times you’ve taken advantage of him?
JL: Well, in the past when he did things for me I always thanked him, so I didn’t think I was taking advantage.
BK: I bet if he took money from you now, he’d thank you, too. [Both laugh.] Really this is about you. Other people will mirror back to you what you haven’t taken care of inside of you yet. What we have learned is he has been there for you and not asked for money. He did things freely. And you don’t owe him anything. We’re just getting clear here. It’s all about how we react when we believe certain thoughts.
JL: Part of this is about my own deservingness—why do I get money and success and he hasn’t gotten it?
BK: See him without the thought, He’s taking advantage of me.
JL: OK. Then my heart breaks for him.
BK: No. Your heart breaks because you’re projecting you. [Both laugh.]
JL: [Joking.] No, I’m altruistic. My heart does break. In that way I’m unique.
BK: You’ve been working so hard to have what you have—at times just to eat, maybe. And you project that onto him. That’s what’s breaking your heart—the presumption that like you, he’s worked hard but has not been rewarded. For all you know, he’s gambling. Still, what you can know is he’s giving you a lot if you can hear him—or anyone—asking you for money and be comfortable with it. “He’s taking advantage of me”—another turnaround is “I’m taking advantage of me.” Give me an example of that.
JL: I think sometimes I will give money just so this will go away. Like, “I can’t take this anymore.”
BK: What does your ego say he should do?
JL: Stop calling me. Do something for yourself. Work your problems out yourself. Don’t ask me for money.
BK: “He shouldn’t ask me for money.” Is that true? No. Everyone’s free. They can ask anyone they want for money. And in your position, where you are in the world, you are going to be bombarded by every campaign, every charity, every relative. So it’s good we’re doing this. Yes, they should ask you for money. Of course they should. I need money, I know someone with money—you!—so I should call you. The whole world should. Just know that. In the past, how did you react when you thought, He shouldn’t ask me for money?
JL: I freak out when he does. Like, “You’re not supposed to do this! And it’s not fair to me.”
BK: How do you treat him?
JL: I become shaming and angry and put out and threaten to cut him off from my affection.
BK: So when you believe the thought, He shouldn’t ask me for money, you lose you. That is the false you. When you hang up with him, you just feel yecch. It’s false. That’s where the shame and guilt come in. We see their faces when we come at them like that, and we have created it. It’s living in us. So who would you be without the thought, He shouldn’t ask me for money?
JL: I’d be peaceful with him. I’d be kind and compassionate.
BK: You’d be listening and attentive. You don’t have to fear and defend. Ever. If your time is short, you can say, “Let’s talk about this later. I have to hang up now. I’ve got a commitment.” That’s honest. And then you call back and say, “You know, I listened, and I’ve determined not to give you money. I love you.” Done. And no matter how many times he comes back, you are clear: “I care about you and I’m not giving you money.”
JL: I can’t walk away from that, though, and not worry that the phone’s going to ring again.
BK: Yeah, but now you understand he should ask you for money when he needs it. He’s a friend. And you’ve probably given him money before.

JL: Yes. I sure have. [Laughs.]
BK: So you have trained him to ask you. So he should ask you. He knows that if he cries enough, whines enough, you’re going to give in. He knows that your No’s aren’t No. All these people to whom you gave money when it was not honest for you, you’ve trained them. It doesn’t mean you’re going to have to give it in the future, though. You’re going to listen and say yes or no. It’s something very different when it’s authentic: “I care about you. I listened. I’m not giving you money.” Or if you decide you do want to give him money, it’s so simple: “I’ve put money in a bank account. There’s a limit. Don’t ask me for more.” You know, I have people like that in my life.
JL: I bet.
BK: But because of my clarity, I’m the last person they come to. [Both laugh uproariously.] Except when it’s really valid, I’m the first person they come to. And they should. That doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily see it as valid, but when I do, it feels so good. To give and not to give—it’s equal.
JL: Progress report: I’m not giving the money. But my insides are a little torn up still.
BK: It’s not your friend who’s making you feel that. It’s what you’re believing. It’s unfinished business. What you’re thinking and believing is you.

Photographs by J

ustin Stephens

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