Jessie: Have you ever had thoughts filled with shoulds? I certainly have.
- They should be doing their job.
- My students should just listen the first time.
- These families should realize that I’m exhausted, and that I don’t need to get 100 emails about the same thing!
Joel: I am right there with you. And what about our superlative thoughts?
- I never can get this done on time.
- My students never listen to the feedback I give them.
- My colleagues are always late to our meetings!
You are not alone with these feelings. Today, we will be talking about the magical power of questioning yourself.
Jessie: The inspiration for this episode comes from Bryon Katie’s process called The Work, but we’ll put our Marigold Force twist on things through the lens of educators. Welcome to today’s episode! The Life-Changing Magic of Questioning Yourself: The 4 Questions That Forever Changed Our Teaching.
Our Own Challenging Thoughts
Jessie: Joel, you mentioned that the inspiration for this podcast came from the inquiry process of Byron Katie. We did some bonus episodes on this over the summer. Why are we bringing this back?
Joel: Well, not only has it been a YEAR, but we hear from teachers regularly how stressed they are and how they wish they had some simple tools to deal with the stress. Yet, the more I actually listened to others, and myself, I realized everyone was more stressed about our thoughts of reality than actual reality. Bryon Katie says, “Peace doesn’t require two people; it requires only one. It has to be you. The problem begins and ends there.”
And I want to make a few disclaimers before we get personal.
- Bryon Katie truly has a gift with this. If you want to go deeper, all of her stuff is available for free online. You can also YouTube her and watch this work in great detail with tons of specifics.
- Often when we do the work of inquiry, it gets tough. That’s okay. We are not trying to change, shift, or deny our thoughts. This work is all about accepting what is.
- Inquiry is a process. You will most likely have ah-ha moments but it never ends. You will find peace with a few thoughts and then another thought will creep in. That’s okay. We are all human beings. The more you practice this inquiry work, the easier and more natural it becomes.
Jessie: Thank you for that! Before we get to 4 Questions that Forever Changed Our Teaching – let’s share some of our own experiences with challenging thoughts.
- What thoughts have been the most difficult for you this year?
- Do you tend to live in the land of shoulds, superlatives, or both? Why do you think that is?
- If you had to name one thought that causes the most suffering/stress for you, what would it be? Why?
Joel: Like the good educators that we are, I want to remind all of you Marigolds that reflection and introspection are so important to doing the work. Inquiry work is just a strategy until you connect it to your personal why and story. When you are aware of the why, it is so much easier to do the work of applying and reapplying these insights. It is also okay to not be ready or able to do this inquiry work at this moment. If that’s the case, save this podcast for later. This is definitely a good episode AND it is one that you have to be willing and ready for.
The 4 Questions and the Turnaround
Joel: Let’s get to the Life-Changing Magic of Questioning Yourself. The flow will be a little different for this episode. I will share Byron Katie’s four inquiry questions. Then, we will examine one of your thoughts, Jessie, using the four questions. Then, we will examine one of my thoughts using the four questions. And finally, we will share how that process went, where we struggle, what we are working on, and why this work has changed our teaching!
Byron Katie’s 4 Questions
- “Is that true?”
- “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?”
- “How do you respond when you believe the thought?”
- “Would you be without the thought?”
Call to Action
Jessie: Now Marigolds, it’s time for your action step. Before you do anything, make sure you take a moment to reflect on your current thoughts that are negatively impacting your life. Think about the shoulds and the superlatives. (If the thought isn’t stressful and isn’t causing harm to others, there is no need to question it!) Once you identify the thought or thoughts, write them down. And then use the four questions to examine those thoughts. If you want to go even deeper, check out Byron Katie’s work.
Joel: Putting pen to paper is so important to help you stay accountable to yourself and your thoughts, and it helps you notice patterns in your thinking. As always, know that you have permission to ask another Marigold in your life to support you with this. You heard how important it was for us to do this inquiry work together. This is why we have our Marigolds! Questioning our thoughts – especially if we have been struggling with them for a long time – is challenging!
Jessie: Write and map out your thoughts and responses to the four questions in order to take the action steps towards changing your life and your teaching. Do this now.