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The work (Byron Katie)

Byron Katie's Work is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It is a way of finding peace within yourself and in the world. The old, the young, the sick, the healthy, the educated, and the uneducated--anyone with an open mind can do this Work.


Byron Kathleen Reid suffered from severe depression after turning thirty. Over ten years, her depression deepened and Katie (as she is called) spent nearly two years barely able to get out of bed and obsessed with the idea of suicide. Suddenly one morning, from the depths of despair, she had a revelation that transformed her life.

Katie realized that when she believed that something should be different than how it was ("My husband should love me more," "My children should appreciate me"), she suffered, and that when she didn't believe these thoughts, she felt peace. She saw that the cause of her depression was not the world around her, but what she believed about that world. In a sudden inner awakening, Katie understood that our effort to find happiness was convoluted: instead of trying, futilely, to change the world to fit our thoughts of how it "should" be, we can question these thoughts and, by meeting reality as it is, experience an unimaginable freedom and joy. Katie developed a simple yet powerful inquiry method called The Work that made this transformation achievable. As a result, a depressed and suicidal woman filled herself with love for all that life brings


The Work is a simple yet powerful inquiry process that teaches how to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It is a way to understand what is hurting you, and to confront the cause of your problems with clarity.

People who consistently do The Work usually report results that have transformed their lives.

Relief from depression: Finding resolution, and even happiness, in situations that were once debilitating

Reduced stress: Learning to live with less anxiety or fear

Improved relationships: Experiencing deeper connection and intimacy with your partner, parents, children, friends, and yourself

Less anger: Understanding what produces anger and resentment, and becoming less reactive with less frequency and intensity

Increased mental clarity: Living and working more effectively and intelligently, and with integrity

More energy: Experiencing a new sense of continuous vigor and well-being

More peace: Discovering how to become a "lover of what is"


The simplest way to do The Work is:



For thousands of years we have been taught not to judge others; however, we do it all the time: we believe we know how our friends should act, who our children should be interested in, what our parents should feel, do or say. In Byron Katie's Work, instead of suppressing these judgments, you use them as a starting point for your self-realization. By letting the judging mind have its own life, in writing on paper, you discover what you still don't know about yourself through the mirror of those you have judged.

Fill out the "JUDGE YOUR NEIGHBOR" worksheet. A copy can be downloaded here.

Download PDF • 69KB


Now investigate each of the statements on the Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet using the Four Questions and Turnarounds below. The Work is meditation. It's about awareness, not trying to change your thoughts. Ask the questions, then give yourself time; internalize and wait for the deeper answers to emerge.

In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and one or more turnarounds. For example, the first thought that you might investigate from the previous worksheet is "Pablo doesn't listen to me." Find someone in your life about whom you have had that thought, and let's do The Work.

"[Name] doesn't listen to me."

Is it true?

Can you absolutely know that it's true?

How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

Who would you be without the thought?

Then, turn the thought around (to the opposite), and don't forget to find three genuine, specific examples for each turnaround.


After investigating your statement with the four questions, it's time to reverse the concept you're questioning.

Each reversal is an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you originally believed.

The statement can be reversed to its opposite, towards the other person, and towards oneself (and sometimes to "my thoughts," when that seems appropriate).

Find at least three genuine and specific examples of how each reversal is true in your life, and then allow yourself the time and presence to deeply feel each one.

For example, "Pablo doesn't understand me" is reversed to: "Pablo does understand me." Quiet yourself and observe as your mind reveals examples of how this reversal is true.

Those examples could be:

He understands that when I'm angry, it always passes.

He understood me last week when he laughed at the joke I told him.

He understood me yesterday when I told him I really needed to go out with friends. He even stayed home with the kids.

Another reversal is "I don't understand myself." Again, find at least three genuine and specific examples of the times when you haven't understood yourself.

A third reversal is "I don't understand Pablo." Let go, close your eyes, and with an open mind, observe how the images and emotions inside you begin to show you, example by example, where you haven't understood Pablo. Be very kind and thorough.

When I started to live, or practice, the reversals, I realized that everything I said about you applied to me. It was just my projection. Now, instead of trying to change the world around me (this never worked in my 43 years), I can fix my thoughts by writing them down on paper, then investigating them, reversing them, and finding that I'm just like I thought you were. The moment I see another person as selfish, I'm being selfish (by deciding how the other person should be). The moment I judge another person as rude or cruel, I'm being rude or cruel to them. If I believe that another person should stop waging war, I mentally wage war with them.

Reversals are the recipe for achieving happiness. Live what you've been prescribing to others. The world is waiting for just one person to awaken to this truth, and that person is you.

—Byron Katie

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