Less Stress for Dads

This may sound ridiculously obvious to you: When dads are happy, we are more flexible, more open minded, more willing to spend time with our kids, and more creative when it comes to handling life’s complexities.

My work as a Stress Relief Educator is focused on helping people learn how to help themselves feel better. My experience of watching how dads operate (including myself), has made one thing very clear: Fathers are at their best when they are feeling good.

When we get stressed, we usually start trying to control our surroundings. We raise our voices and tell everyone to be quiet, we start making new rules and enforcing the old ones and we start blaming our partners for everything under the sun (even if it’s only in our minds!).

Of course we have some other options when we get stressed out. We can play sports, watch sports, listen to some music from when we were eighteen, eat, have a drink, or watch a movie. If we can find a way to start feeling better and forget about whatever it is that stressed us out in the first place, we can start enjoying life again. Then we can continue being the dad we want to be – relaxed, confident, friendly, and loving.

My interest lies in yet another option for stress relief. Something much more powerful than watching a movie: watching ourselves. It can be a really new experience. I’m talking about cultivating an awareness of how we think, how we react to stress, and how we relate to our loved ones under stress. I’m talking about developing an ability to imagine how our lives would be without stress.

My favorite tool as a Stress Relief Educator is quite unique. I teach and facilitate a simple questioning process called “The Work of Byron Katie.” The work is four questions and a “Turnaround” (which I’ll explain later). The whole process fits on the back of a business card. It’s a great tool for a lot of dads I know. There’s nothing to believe, not a lot of reading involved, no preparation, and no cash outlay necessary!

The most unique feature of “The Work” is it’s premise: We can feel better and learn everything we want to know about ourselves by deeply investigating our stressful thoughts. Within every stressful thought is a valuable packet of information, tailor made for us, waiting to be discovered. Every frustration we experience in life, every bummer, is an opportunity for us to grow.

How Does “The Work” Work?

“The Work” invites you to complain, lambast, and be angry about any person, thing, government, school, parent, etc. that you can think of (which is easy for almost everyone I know). Who do you know who would draw a blank if you asked them to find something to complain about?

You start by becoming aware of your angry, negative, or stressful thoughts and writing them down on paper using short, simple statements. But unlike purely venting your anger, which most of us are familiar with, “The Work” then invites you to isolate one of these statements and investigate it deeply using four questions.

– Is it true?
– Can you absolutely know it’s true?
– How do you react when you believe that thought?
– Who would you be without that thought?

These four questions invite you to notice how a stressful thought is affecting your life, and discover how your life would be without it.

The final step in doing “The Work” is to turn your original statement around. There are several ways to do this. You are basically finding opposites, or different polarities of your original statement.

For example, “My kids are too noisy” becomes:

– My kids are not too noisy.
– My kids are too quiet.
– I am too noisy.

– My thinking is too noisy.

And there may be others.

The Turnarounds are based on the opposite of your initial stressful statement. When we find them, we ask ourselves, “Is there any truth to that? Can I find some examples of how that turnaround is true in my life?” They are statements that broaden your thinking, expand your awareness, and help you know yourself and others in a new way. Turnarounds can change your life! They have been monumental in mine.

I had been a dad for five years when I first started doing “The Work.” My worksheets swelled with statements about my dad, my kids, my wife, my schooling, mean people, and the state of the world. And once I began to investigate these statements using “The Work,” the most miraculous thing happened – I started feeling better! The most challenging parts of my life were now bringing me my greatest insights!

“The Work” is just four questions and a turnaround. It’s not a philosophy of life. The questions make no recommendations, offer no suggestions, and give no advice about how to live or how to be happy. The Work is a tool you can use to find your own answers. So, try it out! Find something that is causing you stress. Have your wife or partner ask you the four questions about that statement. Give yourself the gift of growth and insight. Blow your mind: You are the only one who can truly do it!

When you feel good, you are more intelligent, more creative, more flexible and more fun to be with. The most powerful way to connect with your family and the rest of the world is to feel good, enjoy your life, and become somebody your wife and kids want to respect, be with, and be like.

If you believe being a father is an unending job full of difficult challenges, power struggles, and unforseen pitfalls – it will be. I would question a thought like that, turn it around, and get a new perspective. Because, if you believe fathering is easy, fruitful, and enjoyable – it will be!

Mike Biskup is a Stress Relief Educator, Artist, and Father residing in Washington State. You can learn more about Mike, his work, and his trainings by visiting: www.mikebiskup.com.


To learn more about Byron Katie and “The Work”, visit www.thework.com.

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