Byron Katie and The Four Questions That Dispel Negative Emotions

Sign Up For Weekly Tips! Get Trevor’s Weekly Tips Straight To Your Inbox!

If you’ve read my tips for any length of time, you must wonder where all these ideas come from.

So, just in case you’re wondering if I might be a plagiarist, let me remove all doubt!  I get most of my great ideas from clients or books or podcasts or other information sources.  Then I think about them, often apply them somewhere, discard what I think is wrong/irrelevant/uninteresting and filter it through my own lens.  For you!

I’m like a guy getting out of the shower and dripping all over the bathmat.  And you’re the bathmat.  And books are the shower.  If that picture is too graphic for you, don’t worry – I heard that in a talk during my college days (35 years ago) and it stuck with me, so that’s stolen too.

But today’s tip I can give attribution for.  It comes from Byron Katie, and it’s a simple 4 question model to change how you think about bad things that happen in your life.

In her words:

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being.”

So next time you have a destructive thought, write the thought down and try her 4 questions:

Byron Katie’s Four Questions

Is it true?

Be still and ask yourself if the thought you wrote down is true.

Can you absolutely know that it is true?

Do you know that for sure?

How do you react when you believe that thought?

Does believing this unexamined thought make the situation better or worse?  Does it help or hurt?

Who would you be without the thought?

Imagine now that you didn’t believe the thought.  How would your life be different?  How would you feel about the situation (or the person)?  Which do you prefer?  Life with or without that thought?

Let’s make it practical

Now let’s take the Byron Katie questions and apply them to a real situation:

Negative thought:  My jerk of a boss needs to appreciate me.

Is it true?

No, it’s not true.  You could work elsewhere.  You’re not a slave to that job.  No one has a gun to your head forcing you to stay.  Also, does your boss really need to appreciate you?  Maybe they don’t want to.  Perhaps they don’t have the capacity to.  Possibly they don’t know how.  You can only control yourself, not any other person.  Your boss really doesn’t need to appreciate you.

How do you react when you believe that your boss needs to appreciate you?

Are you resentful, bitter, caustic, or closed off?

Do these behaviours make your boss appreciate you more or less?  Do your behaviours help you get the appreciation you want?

Who would you be without the thought?

Would you be happier, more content, more at peace?  Would you feel free of the resentment of your unfulfilled expectations?

The Turnaround

Once you’ve gone through the questions, turn the situation around.  In this case the turnaround looks like this:

It’s not that my boss should appreciate me more, it’s that I should appreciate my boss more.

Which point of view will make you a happier person?

Give Byron Katie and her four questions a try,

pic hero trevor

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here:

Recommended Resources:

Uncover your strengths and weaknesses with our complimentary assessment. Boost your effectiveness at work and with your team.

Free Resource Library: Access our extensive collection of valuable resources for instant support in your personal and professional growth.

Explore Our Course Library:

Enhance your leadership skills with our diverse selection of courses. Take your abilities to the next level and become a more effective leader and team player.
Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


Our Clients Love the Professional Leadership Institute

Your team will, too! Check out some reviews from our students.
The PLI program was invaluable to our network.
The range of topics delivered, the open dialogue, experience, and examples that PLI brought to each session were outstanding and provided a path for our Franchisees and Managers to look at leadership, coaching, and connecting with their teams in a new light. Many have implemented these strategies in their bakeries and have seen immediate results.
Michelle C.
COBS Bread
Highly recommend to help your team move forward
We have locations around BC and Alberta, so getting people on the same page can be very difficult... Until now. Our entire management team and location managers take the same great courses and then meet monthly online with our coach to apply it to our situation. People are engaged, the courses are excellent, we love our coach, and we are all learning together!
Jason Fawcett
President, Kelson Group
The result has been a transformation of our culture. 
We decided to implement PLI's strategies across the country in over 150 locations and over 3500 employees.  The result has been a transformation of our culture.  People's lives have been positively impacted - professionally and personally.  Morale is high and sales and profits are up as a result.
Daryl Verbeek
Daryl Verbeek
We’ve learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all
The roadmap laid out set our business up to quintuple in sales.  We've learned how to fix ongoing personnel issues once and for all, attract top talent, and spend our time focused on results, not internal staffing problems.  I highly recommend PLI to you - it's worked for us!
John DeJong
Satisfied Client
I had no idea that running a business could be this fun!
In less than 18 months of working with Trevor, he has transformed my business from being average to exceptional, where mediocrity is not acceptable, where being great is standard.  Working with PLI has allowed me to realize my dream of not simply owning a job, but owning a business.
Justin Bontkes
Principal, Caliber Projects
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year
Our culture has taken major steps forward this year with Trevor’s help.  He is funny, relatable, and his tools are very very practical and have helped us focus and upgrade our teams throughout our retail network. Trevor recently spoke to an employee group, and one person remarked, “I could listen to Trevor all day.”   We would highly recommend Trevor.
Stan Pridham
Founder, KMS Tools
The results have been remarkable
At first, we resisted, “This just won’t work with a law firm.” But we persisted and the results have been remarkable: our client base and profits have steadily improved, and staff engagement and morale is the healthiest its ever been.
Doug Lester
Partner, RDM Lawyers
Helped our fast-growing business become what it is today
I've experienced PLI's approach first hand and it's been crucial to sustaining our growth.  I can't imagine a business that wouldn't benefit greatly from his help.
Brian Antenbring
Founder, TEEMA
Provided practical ways to make positive changes
Trevor was incredibly well-received by the entire organization. He was able to articulate people issues that many of our franchisees were experiencing and provided them with practical ways to make positive changes. We have implemented the Star Chart tool across the organization and see it as vital to building happy, effective teams.
Aaron Gillespie
President, COBS Bread
Scroll to Top

Start Learning Today

For Individuals

Unlock your potential and accelerate your career with sought-after management and leadership skills.


Transform Your Organization

For Teams

Book a consultation to discuss your challenges and discover how we can help you build a winning team.


Sign Up For Weekly Tips!

Get Weekly Coaching Tips Straight To Your Inbox Every Monday.