The focus of this episode is on the importance of recognizing challenging emotions and responding to them in a healing manner. Robert encourages listeners to value and care for themselves during these times and offers strategies such as self-acceptance, informal prayer, and identifying supportive thoughts. Guided meditation is also recommended as a helpful tool for effectively responding to personal challenges. By cultivating an awareness of our challenging emotions and developing an observer or witness within ourselves, we can learn to care for ourselves and identify our essential needs.
It is essential to acknowledge and meet self-rejection with a gradual and increasing self-acceptance as the rejection will hinder us from achieving an overall sense of well-being. It is also beneficial to approach difficult emotions with humility, honesty, and resourcefulness and develop our practice of self-compassion, self-forgiveness, and self-love. The episode concludes with a call to action for listeners to continue discovering their needs and increasing our ability to fulfill them to live a more inspired and peaceful life.
Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast. Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. For an exact quote or comment, please contact us.
Awareness That Heals, Episode 97.
The Awareness That Heals podcast helps its listeners learn to develop the capacity to have a more healing response to emotions and situations rather than becoming stuck. Your host, Robert Strock, has practiced psychotherapy for more than 45 years. He wrote the book, “Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges,” to help develop self-caring and the capacity to respond in an effective way to life’s challenges. Especially at times when we are most prone to be critical or to withdraw Together, we will explore how to become aware of our challenging feelings, and at the same time find alternative ways to live a more fulfilling and inspiring life.
Robert Strock (00:46):
Thanks again so much for joining us at Awareness That Heals where we do our very best to focus on bringing heart and wisdom to our life challenges. We start again and again with being aware of what is most difficult for us and how these difficulties are universal for all of us, whether we recognize them or not, and how we can care for ourselves at these crucial times. Now, this might sound simple, this might sound pat, but being able just to notice our difficulties and to value that and to look for caring is an evolutionary step that most of us have not gone through. So please take that in. And today we’re gonna explore more deeply how you can move in a transforming direction. And by you doing a guided meditation, it gives you a great chance to discover and to support what you most need when you have a challenging feeling and are rejecting yourself at the same time.
It highlights the importance of being aware of what is difficult for you and deepening your realization that without it, we can’t really move into a healing direction with our wisdom. Even when we realize a challenging feeling and can also see we don’t like it, we are being encouraged to say to ourselves, no matter what we feel, oh good, I can see it and have a chance to evolve, rather than, oh shit, not that feeling again. This gives you and all of us the best chance to use the awareness to move us in a direction that is the beginning of a healing direction, rather than getting sidetracked by suppressing it, judging it, misunderstanding or misinterpreting it. This is a humongous victory each time we can observe what we feel without any distancing or judging. Before I go further into it, I’d like to introduce Dave, my partner at The Global Bridge Foundation and my closest friend for almost 55 years.
Robert, thank you. I think that there is no more important element of awareness that heals than greeting and handling difficult emotions and seeing the potential of wisdom in them and transforming them in that way and greeting them instead of turning away, but turning into it with a hope that you can find that wisdom. So thank you.
Robert Strock (03:41):
Yes, and in addition, I just add, adding the element of seeing that self-rejection and being able to work with that as well and, and I think that this is truly something that sounds relatively simple, but in life going so fast, it really requires something like a guided meditation to slow it down so you can see it much more closely. So just begin by asking yourself, what emotion or state do you judge the most? And while you’re doing that, you also want to ask yourself, doesn’t it make sense when I see that, that I move toward an accepting, rather than a rejecting, so that I can get back, so that you can get back to the original challenging feeling? So when you have a feeling like anxiety and you’re familiar with it and you’re disgusted with it or you’re, or you’re repelled by it or you wanna suppress it, you wanna overwrite it, you think you’re overriding it, but actually you’re suppressing it, then it makes sense to deal with that rejection and say, no, I’m not gonna reject it, I’m going to see the part of me that’s rejecting myself.
And as I see it, I’m going to say in my own awareness, I accept that this feeling is there, but I don’t accept that it’s going to reject my difficult feeling. I’m going to go back to the difficult feeling and say, sorry, self-rejection, you are not going to help me. I’m going back to my original challenge, which is much more potent to me. So we’re going to be focusing on three different ways that we can deal with self-rejection and challenging emotions. So, the first way we can approach our challenging feelings is by asking the question, “How can I best support you while I’m in this feeling?” The second one, the second way we can approach this is what might be called a certain kind of prayer or a heart quality where we can ask for the virtually exact opposite feeling as a challenging feeling itself. So, for example, if we’re in fear, we might be going inside and just asking, may I access as much courage as I can?
If you’re experiencing anger, maybe you might ask, may I experience a sense of tolerance? So you’re looking for a sense of the opposite quality, which is going to move you in the direction of what you need because the opposite quality of our challenging feelings is going to be a part, an essential part of what we need. And the third practice is asking yourself, what would be the thoughts that would be most supportive while I’m in this state? What specific thoughts would be most helpful? Again, let’s start with fear. And we may say to ourselves, you’re not doing this on purpose. Be kind to yourself while you’re afraid. You can accept yourself while you’re afraid. Those thoughts are gold when we’re afraid, cuz usually fear spreads itself and sometimes can take total ownership. Whereas if we have the awareness and we lead with thoughts that are supportive of ourselves and the fear and the relationship to fear, that helps create a level of reaction. So, as we go into this guided meditation, we’re gonna be highlighting the three ways that you can support yourself when you’re not only in your challenging feeling, but you’re also dealing with self-rejection.
Guided meditation is for so many people the best way to truly gain benefit in your response to personal challenges. As you invest and bring your own experience to the guided meditations, you’ll give yourself the best chance to change long-standing patterns from suffering toward a state of well-being, peace and healing. It’s important to put yourself in a comfortable body position, in a private space where you’re not disturbed, turn off your phone and be ready to really be alert.
So, just let yourself settle in an easy position where your body is relaxed and take note where it’s harder to relax and see if you can support yourself by just moving a little bit and giving yourself permission to continue to move for your own body’s comfort. And notice your body sensations. Does your knee hurt? Is your stomach growling? Are you at peace? Are you relaxed? And just maybe even start by saying, body, I want you to relax as much as possible and ask yourself the question, what is your most challenging emotion, either during this time period or perhaps it’s right now, and one that I really dislike. And see if you can identify your challenging emotion, which may be the same one through all the meditations that we do, or it might be different ones. But see if you can identify it really crisply, clear and simple, and do the same for your attitude toward the emotion.
So, if you’re feeling annoyed, see if you can notice, does that make you happy, or do you feel disgusted or do you feel annoyed that you’re annoyed? Just see what your, your emotion is that is rejecting you or that is not nice to you at least. And don’t add judgments, if possible. Just try to stay aware, this is my challenging feeling and this is the way that my emotions judge me or my thoughts judge me. And let yourself meet that with I see you, I am the observer, the place that I wanna foster so much in my life because that observer gives me the best chance of seeing myself rather than acting out against myself or against anybody else. And that observer can guide you to ask the question, do I want to care for myself while I’m feeling this challenging emotion and to be absurd or would I rather punish myself?
And hopefully that lets you crack a little bit of a smile. We realize, of course, I wanna support myself, but in real life it happened so fast, it’s not of course. And that’s why the observation is so important so that you can see distinct steps of challenging feelings, finding a place that wants to care, that starts to care. And then it leads you to a crucial question that is just the beginning of how can I best care for myself when I’m feeling my particular challenging emotion? Which all the way through this time, stay really aware of your challenging emotion and let yourself feel it and stay aware of your desire to care and stay aware of if there’s any reaction that is critical of you, rejecting of you, including something that would be more like self-abandoning where you’re withdrawing from yourself, so you don’t even see the challenging emotion anymore.
And instead, let this observer or this witness guide you to these crucial steps of awareness of the challenging emotion, finding the desire to care, activating it, and noticing if there’s the obstruction of self-rejection. And if so, meeting it with your awareness that says, I can tolerate you, but you’re not my number one focus. I’m going back to my challenging emotion because I want to take care of myself, because I want to be able to live a life where my essential needs, which connect the best to the world possible are activated. So, I want my awareness to work for me. I want my observer to work for me, not just selfishly, because when I really live in my essential needs, it takes care of everybody else too. And so return to that question though that says, what emotion do I feel the most aversion toward? Because that can so subtly lead you down a rabbit hole, down quicksand.
And if you can see it, you can say to it, I see you, I’m not gonna let you take me away from what is my bigger challenge. Now that challenging feeling could be anxiety, depression, emptiness, exhaustion, impatience, annoyance, irritation. That is so important to honor by allowing yourself to hold it in your awareness and not add any more judgements. See if you can appreciate that you have this observer that can see what might be called this dreaded state of this challenging feeling. And I say that with a smile on my face that dreaded state as if it’s so dramatic. When sometimes, of course it is very serious, but being able to be aware of it is your hope. It’s the beginning of the direction of caring for yourself. And again, you then pivot toward, do I want to care for myself? How do I care for myself?
And you find a place inside your heart that says, of course I want to care for myself while I’m feeling this difficult feeling. You can have the most major influence by identifying more and more with your observer, with your awareness that can see everything as it looks inside. In a sense that awareness of whatever your difficult emotion is, your desire to care, your self-rejecting emotions, that observer is very likely the best definition of who you are. And the more you identify with being the observer, the more resourceful you can be, the more independent you can be to be a healing influence while you’re in your challenging emotion. And without this awareness, you will go amuck, it will get worse, or it will at least be stably injuring you. But with that awareness, it gives you that reminder, I can care for myself. Oh, I can care for myself.
So, at the start of really entering into this awareness of these variety of states, you may be able to care for yourself 1%, and after you do it 10 times, you might be able to care for yourself 5%. And the whole point is you’re just trying to increase the amount that you’re able to care for yourself and then identify specifically what your needs are that you want to foster in both your thoughts and the immediate and the actions that may be immediate or maybe in the future. Or it may be developing qualities that are gonna help you deal with emotions like impatience and intolerance. When you see your challenging emotion or you see the self-rejection, it’s so important that this observer says something like, and see if you can do it right now. It’s okay that you are a part of my inner life and it’s okay that you may be rejecting me, but I see you now.
I have no more need for you because you aren’t serving me. Rejecting me for the way I am isn’t going to help. And so, I’m going to foster this intention to care for myself and discover specifically the needs that will help me. I wanna move toward an accepting awareness and ask, how can I best support you when you’re in this state? So you’re asking yourself that question right now, and look what thoughts arise as to what might allow you to be more at peace or more in strength while you’re experiencing it. And recognize this is just the beginning. You’re going to be having much more guidance as time goes on as to how you can make this move from the challenging feeling toward the essential needs. But you need to be very, very versatile. What your challenging feeling is in your awareness of it and in your awareness of the essential needs that will help guide you.
In addition to this inquiry questioning, there’s a second option as to how you can respond to yourself when you’re in your challenging feeling. And there might be self-rejection there. And that’s moving into what might be called an informal kind of prayer. It’s a heart quality, and you’re asking for that quality, which is very close to the exact opposite of what you’re feeling. So if you’re feeling impatient, you might be really asking, can I find patience? If you’re irritable? Can I find or focus more in my tone of voice or just my inner tone on being more patient or more tolerant? There’s also a third practice, and that would be asking yourself, what would the thoughts be that would be the most supportive? What specific thoughts would be most helpful when I’m feeling this challenging emotion? Ask yourself that question now, it may be something like, it’s okay that you’re there and I’m here to support you and I’m a partnership with you, and we’re gonna brainstorming this together.
You’re gonna be challenged emotionally, and I’m gonna be the one that’s resourceful. I’m gonna be the observer that’s gonna keep asking you what are those thoughts that are gonna help you? If you’re in fear, tolerance is probably first. Now only you would know what might be those thoughts. But as you’re inquiring, how do I support myself with both my challenging feeling and my self-rejection, you have the possibility of asking yourself a question. You have the possibility of sending a quality that’s close to the exact opposite of the quality that your challenging feeling is in. Or you can find the thoughts that would most guide you and your observer can help you with all of those. You may and likely will need to do this meditation many, many times because it’s not something that you’ve learned that was taught in high school or junior high school or by your parents. So don’t expect yourself to get it right away. Just stay appreciative, if you can find that appreciation that you’re endeavoring to go to a place that is not utterly familiar to you, and that you have the courage and the humility to go for it. Following this guidance will help you move toward an empathetic, compassionate awareness in a place where it’s usually grossly lacking. It gives you a chance to pivot, it gives you a move. It could almost make you look forward to once you get it, not feeling well, because you can practice how to be resourceful.
And see, as we end this meditation, if you can appreciate your sincere effort to stay with yourself and to be aware of how to care, how to be honest and humbly noticing what’s happening and recognizing that all of this effort will create you and those that you love enormous benefit.
So how does this leave you? Where are you left? Do you feel like you have some resourcefulness to work with your self-rejection? Do you feel like when you have your challenging feeling, you will ask yourself that question of whether you like it and whether you really are better prepared to go back to the challenging feeling and move toward your needs? And look at where you might be most challenged in implementing this. It might be that you’ll forget to ask the question. It might be that you’re going to have difficulty letting go of the self-rejection, but whatever it is, let yourself know, this is where I have the greatest challenge, and I am going to support myself not to let the self-rejection rule me, distract me, or make me disassociate. So as you are going through, not only the guided meditation, but the whole podcast, can you appreciate yourself that you can discover and work with being humble and honest with your challenging feelings, asking if you like the feeling, and then responding with one of the three practices and caring enough, with courage, to meet yourself with your challenging feeling and moving toward your well-being in your heart.
And that moving toward your well-being in your heart is something that will be covering in the next several podcasts. And that is once you’ve discovered the challenging feeling, what are the multiple ways that you can really move toward finding and discovering your needs? And I again remind you that if it’s not very clear to you what your challenging feelings are, download the Introspective Guides at awarenessthatheals.org. And it’s crucial for all these podcasts, that have guided meditations, to have that list available. And I wanna say to you that we can all do this if we try, but we need to focus our will on being humble and honest enough with ourselves that we have these certain challenging feelings and that we want to deal with them. And we also have this tendency to reject ourselves, and we don’t want that to be empowered and see how much faith you have and see if you’re open to keep working on this so that you can turn your challenging feelings into an opportunity to discover your needs and an opportunity to be more fulfilled and inspired in this life, which is really the reason why we’re alive. I wish this for you and for all of us.
Join The Conversation
Thanks for listening to Awareness That Heals. Please click subscribe, so you won’t miss an episode. If you love the podcast, the best way to help spread the word is to rate and review the show. This helps other listeners, like you, find this podcast. We’re deeply grateful you’re here and that we have found each other. We encourage you to download our Introspective Guides at awarenessthatheals.org; they will be helpful to you while listening to our podcast.
Visit our podcast archive page