I’m irked with a situation and a person right now. I don’t want to give any details, so I’ll just say that I inquired about taking an advanced class that I had not taken the prerequisites for. I explained in my email the experience I already had, the classes I had taken at a different institution, and the name of a private instructor I took lessons from. I also attached media to document my abilities.
I was turned down.
I received a long email explaining why, and it didn’t seem to really be about my abilities. She started by praising my work. But then she went on to say she wanted me to start back at the beginner level class. I don’t know her, but the email sounded totally arrogant to me, like she thought no one else could have given me a decent foundation in this skill. She went on and on about how important the basics were, and how their courses at their institution made sure everyone had a solid foundation.
My reaction is that I want to prove her wrong and prove myself right. My desire to be right has an angry charge to it. I want to SHOW HER. I got the email an hour or so ago, and I’m still stewing about it.
So I’m going to do some self-coaching here on the page. The technique that I’m using is The Work of Byron Katie. I’m going to write out the conversation I am having with myself as both coach and client, and I’ll try to explain the process as I go along.
My painful belief: I need to prove to this person that I am skilled enough for her class.
Coach’s question: Is it true that I need to prove to this person that I am skilled enough for her class?
Me as the client: No, I don’t NEED to prove it. Yes, I want to, but no, I don’t NEED to.
Coach’s question: How do I react when I believe I have to prove to this person that I’m skilled enough for her class?
Me as the client: I write angry emails in my head. I think about contacting my former private instructor, and indignantly tell her my tale (she knows the people involved). I clench my teeth. I frown and hunch my shoulders forward. I obsess about it and can’t focus on what I’m doing in the present.
Coach’s question: Who would I be in the same situation if I magically couldn’t think the thought, ‘I need to prove to this person that I’m skilled enough for her class’?
Me as the client: I would just shrug and figure I wasn’t meant to take that class. I would look for other ways to learn the thing I want to learn. In fact, I’d thank my lucky stars that I avoided signing up for a class taught by someone whose energy I didn’t like.
The final step of The Work of Byron Katie is to turn the original statement around, playing with the words to see if you can find a statement that is as true or truer. The turnaround to the opposite would be, “I DON’T need to prove to this person that I’m skilled enough for her class.”
Coach’s question: Is that as true or truer?
Me as the client: Well, yes. I can’t actually find any reason that I truly NEED to prove this.
The turnaround to the ‘other,’ meaning the other party in my statement, would be, “The person needs to prove to me that she’s a skilled enough teacher for me to take her class.”
Coach’s question: Is this as true or truer than the original statement?
Me as the client: Well, yes. A skilled teacher respects other teachers. A skilled teacher doesn’t think they are the only path for a student to learn. A skilled teacher WANTS students. A skilled teacher has good energy toward her students or potential students.
Finally, the turnaround to me is, “I need to prove to myself that I’m skilled enough for MY class.
Coach’s question: Is this as true or truer?
Me as the client: Well, yes. Only I know my skill level. Only I know what I need to learn or practice. I am in charge of my growth. I am in charge of my training. I am empowered to go out and find instruction that feels good to me.
The amazing thing about the thought-dissolving process is that you don’t ever try to let go of the original, painful thought. You don’t try to make that thought go away. You just look for other, related thoughts that are as true or truer, and the original thought shows itself as so obviously false that it just drops away. In the time it’s taken me to write this out, that first angry thought has lost its power, and I can just shrug and let it go. And thank my lucky stars that I don’t have to take a class from someone whose energy comes across as arrogant.