How to Turn a Thought Around (Turnarounds)

This year (well, in 2022) I found Byron Katie’s work and while I want to say I do not follow her work as a spiritual practice I do use a couple of her concepts as tools.

One of those concepts is to do what she calls a “turnaround”. Turnarounds are when you take a thought and look at it from every possible angle and opposite and find a statement as true, or truer than what you had been thinking previously.

I find them to be so freeing. For example, with the thought “I need my daughter to calm down” here’s how I can turn it around:

  • I need me to calm down
  • I don’t need my daughter to calm down
  • My daughter needs me to calm down

When I look at these three statements I can find truth in all of them. Looking at other thought options helps me to experience less stress than my attachment to need her to calm down. Do you see how it works?

Let’s try another statement and see how it works. “I need more time.”

  • I don’t need more time
  • Time needs more me

“I don’t need more time” could show me I have enough time. It could help me to stop procrastinating or wasting the time I do have; I could even be grateful for the time I have.

“Time needs more me” sounds funny at first–like, huh?–but when you take a moment to think about it, it can make sense. The time I do have needs ME to show up more in alignment with what I value. The time I DO have needs more quality from me.

Where in your life do you have thoughts cause you to feel stress? Where in your life are you attached to outcomes? Could a turnaround help you?

Try it: Write the thoughts down exactly as you have them now, and then try and find 2-3 turnarounds for each. Sit with them and see how many turnarounds you can come up with and then ask yourself “Can I find any truth in these statements?”

Choose the statement that causes you too feel less stress. After all, our thoughts create our feelings. So how do you want to feel?

I find turnarounds help me to feel more relaxed, happy, and calm. I love that they’re easy to do in the moment. I love feeling less attached to my own way. The freedom from the exchange is so worth it, to me.

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