Question Your Thinking: Musings on Love, Sex and Relationships

An excerpt from the new book Question Your Thinking, by Byron Katie. It is published by Hay House and available at all bookstores or online at

Nothing outside you can ever give you what you’re looking for.

Once we begin to question our thoughts, our partners-alive, dead or divorced-are always our greatest teachers. There’s no mistake about the person you’re with; he or she is the perfect teacher for you, whether or not the relationship works out, and once you enter inquiry, you come to see that clearly.

There’s never a mistake in the universe. So if your partner is angry, good. If there are things about him that you consider flaws, good, because these flaws are your own, you’re projecting them, and you can write them down, inquire, and set yourself free. People go to India to find a guru, but you don’t have to: you’re living with one. Your partner will give you everything you need for your own freedom.

When you don’t love the other person, it hurts, because love is your very self. And you can’t make yourself do it! You can’t make yourself love someone. But when you come to love yourself, you automatically love the other person. You can’t not. Just as you can’t make yourself love us, you can’t make yourself not love us. It’s all your projection.

Personalities don’t love; they want something. Love doesn’t seek anything. It’s already complete. It doesn’t want, doesn’t need, has no shoulds (not even for the person’s own good). So when I hear people say that they love someone and want to be loved in return, I know they’re not talking about love. They’re talking about something else.

I can’t feel angry at my partner without suffering. This doesn’t feel natural to me. It doesn’t feel resonant. If I meet my partner with understanding, it feels more like me. So when a thought appears, can I meet that thought with understanding? When I’ve learned to meet my thoughts with understanding, I meet you with understanding.

What could you say about me that I haven’t already thought? There new no new thoughts-they’re all recycled. We’re not meeting anything but thoughts. The external is the internal projected. Whether it’s your thinking or my thinking, it’s the same. Let’s meet it with understanding. Only love heals.

It has been a life’s work to make our partner wrong. Then when we enter inquiry, we lose. It’s a tremendous shock. And it turns out to be grace. Winning is losing. Losing is winning. It all turns around.

When you own your share in something that your partner did to you, it’s the sweetest thing in the world. You just feel humility, without the slightest urge to defend yourself. It leaves you completely vulnerable. This is the kind of vulnerability you want to lick off the pavement, it’s so delicious.

My love is MY business; it has nothing to do with you. You love me, and that isn’t personal. You tell the story that I am this, or I am that, and you fall in love with your story. What do I have to do with it? I am here for your perception, as if I had a choice. I am your story, no more and no less. You have never met me. No one has ever met anyone.

It’s not your job to love me-it’s mine.

When you believe the thought "My husband should understand me," and the reality is that he doesn’t, it’s a recipe for unhappiness. You can do everything in the world to make him understand you, and he’ll end by understanding what he understands. And if he understands you, what do you have? Just validation that your story is true. What he says he understands isn’t even you, because as you manipulate his understanding, he can only understand the story you’re telling. So even at its best, you’re not being understood. We don’t hear what you tell us; we hear what we think you’re telling us. We impose our story on what you say, and that’s what we understand. Are your thoughts what you punish him for?

I love telling a story that happened around 1997, when I was traveling every day, sharing The Work with people all over the world, day after day, constantly on planes, trains and in cars. One night I got on a plane and I was really exhausted. It was a red-eye; that’s what I could afford. I sat down next to a man, picked up his hand, put it in my lap, and fell asleep. I had no qualms about it, because I knew what he really was, and I knew that he loved me, although we’d never met. He was still holding my hand when I woke up hours later. He was so sweet about it. He never asked my name.

But he wasn’t any sweeter than the suitcase that fell from the overhead bin onto my head on another flight. It felt like a kiss as I collapsed. How do I know that I needed a hit on the head? Because that’s what happened! No mistake. When you know that whatever you need is what you get, life becomes paradise. It’s the perfect setup. Everything you need, and even more than you need, is always supplied, in abundance.

When I walk into a room, I know that everyone in it loves me. I just don’t expect them to realize it yet.

The only possibility of being understood by someone else is to understand yourself. It’s a full-time job. So if you inquire and come to see that what is is what you want, it’s the end of any decisions about him. At that point you don’t have to make any decision. There’s no decision to torture him into understanding you. He continues to show you that his understanding is not your business.

What is an example that will prove that you aren’t lovable? Rejection? If someone rejects you-and he could only do that because you don’t match his beliefs about how he wants the world to be-it has nothing to do with you. Only an inflated ego could say that it had anything to do with you. Suppose your hand just moved for no reason, and he turns himself off with what he believes that means-do you have the audacity to think that you had something to do with it? You don’t have that power, ever. If he yells at you and you perceive that that isn’t love, YOU have hurt yourself; he hasn’t. And if you’re yelling within you that he shouldn’t yell at you, that is where the pain begins, not with his yelling at you. You’re arguing with reality, and you lose.

When you say or do anything to please, get, keep, influence, or control anyone or anything, fear is the cause and pain is the result. Manipulation is separation, and separation is painful. Another person can love you totally in that moment and you’d have no way of realizing it. If you act from fear, there’s no way you can receive love, because you’re trapped in a thought about what you have to do for love. Every stressful thought separates you from people.

A dishonest yes is a no to yourself.

When a thought hurts, that’s the signal that it isn’t true.

Look at what you imagine is a flaw in your partner, and notice the ways that it gives you an opportunity to appreciate her. If you can’t find these ways, you’ll eventually have to strike out in anger-or you may just become frustrated by your lack of progress and attack yourself and her mentally. These attacks that you experience along the way are simply areas that need to be questioned, that’s all. If the ways become obvious, you’ll grow and grow into love without limit. And your partner will follow, and so will the rest of the world.

Reality unfolds perfectly. Whatever happens is good. I see people and things, and when it comes to me to move toward them or away from them, I move without argument, because I have no believable story about why I shouldn’t; it’s always perfect. A decision would give me less, always less. So "it" makes its own decision, and I follow. And what I love is that it’s always kind. If I had to name the experience in a word, I would call it "gratitude." Living, breathing gratitude. I am a receiver, and there’s nothing I can do to stop grace from coming in.

Seeking love is how you lose the awareness of love. But you can only lose the awareness of it, not the state. That is not an option, because love is what we all are. That’s immovable. When you investigate your stressful thinking and your mind becomes clear, love pours into your life, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

A friend sat in my room one morning-she’s so courageous-with tears pouring down her face, saying, "I love you, Katie, I love you." The woman had no dignity. I saw her love for herself reflected through me. She saw that, too. And I said to her, "Isn’t it fine to love at such a level and know you’re not ever going to be disappointed in it?"

Sometimes you may appear to trade that love for the story appearing in the moment. It’s like a little side-trip out into illusion. And when you investigate your story, you come back to where you always are.

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Byron Katie, founder of The Work, has one job: to teach people how to end their own suffering. When Katie appears, lives change. She's the author of the bestselling books Loving What Is, I Need Your Love--Is That True? A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are, and the new Question Your Thinking, Change the World. On her website,, you will find her blog, her schedule, a network of facilitators, a free hotline, audio and video clips, articles, and basic information about Katie and The Work, including free materials to download. Copyright © 2007 Byron Katie. All Rights Reserved.



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