When Byron Katie first published “Loving What Is” in 2002, the book became an international phenomenon. Oprah endorsed it, everyone I knew was talking about it, and I found the approach an outstanding way to shake up my thinking.

However Katie came to formulate the questions, they draw on older ideas: those of self-inquiry, which is part of philosophy; ideas that are reflected in narrative therapies, and the power of the spoken and written words, which is as old as literature itself.

I find the four questions particularly powerful in this age of incivility and violence. The more certain someone is that they are right, the more wary of them I become. Are they really so arrogant as to assume that their way is the only way to see the issue at hand?

But what about me? Am I regularly and deeply studying my own beliefs, even the ones --maybe especially the ones--that I hold most dear?

This is where I find the 4 Liberating Questions uniquely helpful. Because they don’t tell me what to think, or what I believe. They remind me that humility is not some nebulous virtue for the pious, but rather an antidote for loneliness and isolation. They give me a remedy for disconnection and disillusionment. The practice of them offers me a rest from certainty, rigidity, and self-righteousness (of which I can sometimes take part quite liberally).

If you’re not familiar with them, they are below. They can be employed as a regular, daily writing practice such as a journal. When I do so, they often change my whole perspective, and subsequently my life.

  1. Is it true?

This first question asks us to hold up a belief, such as “He is not trying,” “They are wrong,” “The world is dangerous”, and simply ask ourselves if the belief is, in fact, true.

  1. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

We take a deeper look and ask again. Sometimes (or often) our answer changes when we ask in this fashion.

  1. How do you react when you believe that thought?

What are my actions, my subsequent thoughts, my feelings when I engage in this thought as a belief?

  1. Who would you be without the thought?

Perhaps even more important than question 3, this question asks us to examine how our identity can be wrapped up in various beliefs, and helps us to imagine other, perhaps better, versions of ourselves where we can practice other beliefs that may serve us, and the world, more effectively and with more integrity.

When we are through journaling, we may come to the same conclusions as before-- there is not necessarily a moral obligation to change our minds every time, or at all. But when I resume my life after this process, I know that I have examined the matter more thoroughly, and I often approach others differently following the experience. Now more than ever, I feel that these practices of “let it begin with me” are the least violent and most effective way for me to manage life in 2024.

For more on the 4 Liberating Questions, see Byron Katie’s book “Loving What Is.”

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Dr Rosalyn Dischiavo

Dr. Rosalyn Dischiavo EdD, MA, CSES, is a sexologist, professor, former family therapist, and a professional sexuality educator. She is the Founder & Director of Institute for Sexuality Education & Enlightenment, and the author of “The Deep Yes, the Lost Art of True Receiving.” Dr. Dischiavo is also currently President of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) as well as past Professional Education Steering Committee Chair on the Board of AASECT. She is a Certified Sexuality Educator and a Certified Sexuality Educator Supervisor.

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